Scaling up community mobilisation through women's groups for maternal and neonatal health: experiences from rural Bangladesh

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2012 Jan 24:12:5. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-12-5.


Background: Program coverage is likely to be an important determinant of the effectiveness of community interventions to reduce neonatal mortality. Rigorous examination and documentation of methods to scale-up interventions and measure coverage are scarce, however. To address this knowledge gap, this paper describes the process and measurement of scaling-up coverage of a community mobilisation intervention for maternal, child and neonatal health in rural Bangladesh and critiques this real-life experience in relation to available literature on scaling-up.

Methods: Scale-up activities took place in nine unions in rural Bangladesh. Recruitment and training of those who deliver the intervention, communication and engagement with the community and other stakeholders and active dissemination of intervention activities are described. Process evaluation and population survey data are presented and used to measure coverage and the success of scale-up.

Results: The intervention was scaled-up from 162 women's groups to 810, representing a five-fold increase in population coverage. The proportion of women of reproductive age and pregnant women who were engaged in the intervention increased from 9% and 3%, respectively, to 23% and 29%.

Conclusions: Examination and documentation of how scaling-up was successfully initiated, led, managed and monitored in rural Bangladesh provide a deeper knowledge base and valuable lessons.Strong operational capabilities and institutional knowledge of the implementing organisation were critical to the success of scale-up. It was possible to increase community engagement with the intervention without financial incentives and without an increase in managerial staff. Monitoring and feedback systems that allow for periodic programme corrections and continued innovation are central to successful scale-up and require programmatic and operational flexibility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Community Networks / organization & administration*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / education
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / organization & administration*
  • Infant Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Postnatal Care / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult