Comprehensive review of the evidence regarding the effectiveness of community-based primary health care in improving maternal, neonatal and child health: 2. maternal health findings

J Glob Health. 2017 Jun;7(1):010902. doi: 10.7189/jogh.07.010902.


Background: We summarize the findings of assessments of projects, programs, and research studies (collectively referred to as projects) included in a larger review of the effectiveness of community-based primary health care (CBPHC) in improving maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH). Findings on neonatal and child health are reported elsewhere in this series.

Methods: We searched PUBMED and other databases through December 2015, and included assessments that underwent data extraction. Data were analyzed to identify themes in interventions implemented, health outcomes, and strategies used in implementation.

Results: 152 assessments met inclusion criteria. The majority of assessments were set in rural communities. 72% of assessments included 1-10 specific interventions aimed at improving maternal health. A total of 1298 discrete interventions were assessed. Outcome measures were grouped into five main categories: maternal mortality (19% of assessments); maternal morbidity (21%); antenatal care attendance (50%); attended delivery (66%) and facility delivery (69%), with many assessments reporting results on multiple indicators. 15 assessments reported maternal mortality as a primary outcome, and of the seven that performed statistical testing, six reported significant decreases. Seven assessments measured changes in maternal morbidity: postpartum hemorrhage, malaria or eclampsia. Of those, six reported significant decreases and one did not find a significant effect. Assessments of community-based interventions on antenatal care attendance, attended delivery and facility-based deliveries all showed a positive impact. The community-based strategies used to achieve these results often involved community collaboration, home visits, formation of participatory women's groups, and provision of services by outreach teams from peripheral health facilities.

Conclusions: This comprehensive and systematic review provides evidence of the effectiveness of CBPHC in improving key indicators of maternal morbidity and mortality. Most projects combined community- and facility-based approaches, emphasizing potential added benefits from such holistic approaches. Community-based interventions will be an important component of a comprehensive approach to accelerate improvements in maternal health and to end preventable maternal deaths by 2030.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Services*
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic