Evaluating a Large-Scale Community-Based Intervention to Improve Pregnancy and Newborn Health Among the Rural Poor in India

Am J Public Health. 2015 Jan;105(1):144-152. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302092.


Objectives. We evaluated the effectiveness of the Sure Start project, which was implemented in 7 districts of Uttar Pradesh, India, to improve maternal and newborn health. Methods. Interventions were implemented at 2 randomly assigned levels of intensity. Forty percent of the areas received a more intense intervention, including community-level meetings with expectant mothers. A baseline survey consisted of 12 000 women who completed pregnancy in 2007; a follow-up survey was conducted for women in 2010 in the same villages. Our quantitative analyses provide an account of the project's impact. Results. We observed significant health improvements in both intervention areas over time; in the more intensive intervention areas, we found greater improvements in care-seeking and healthy behaviors. The more intensive intervention areas did not experience a significantly greater decline in neonatal mortality. Conclusions. This study demonstrates that community-based efforts, especially mothers' group meetings designed to increase care-seeking and healthy behaviors, are effective and can be implemented at large scale.