Comprehensive review of the evidence regarding the effectiveness of community-based primary health care in improving maternal, neonatal and child health: 4. child health findings

J Glob Health. 2017 Jun;7(1):010904. doi: 10.7189/jogh.07.010904.


Background: This paper assesses the effectiveness of community-based primary health care (CBPHC) in improving child health beyond the neonatal period. Although there has been an accelerated decline in global under-5 mortality since 2000, mortality rates remain high in much of sub-Saharan Africa and in some south Asian countries where under-5 mortality is also decreasing more slowly. Essential interventions for child health at the community level have been identified. Our review aims to contribute further to this knowledge by examining how strong the evidence is and exploring in greater detail what specific interventions and implementation strategies appear to be effective.

Methods: We reviewed relevant documents from 1950 onwards using a detailed protocol. Peer reviewed documents, reports and books assessing the impact of one or more CBPHC interventions on child health (defined as changes in population coverage of one or more key child survival interventions, nutritional status, serious morbidity or mortality) among children in a geographically defined population was examined for inclusion. Two separate reviews took place of each document followed by an independent consolidated summative review. Data from the latter review were transferred to electronic database for analysis.

Results: The findings provide strong evidence that the major causes of child mortality in resource-constrained settings can be addressed at the community level largely by engaging communities and supporting community-level workers. For all major categories of interventions (nutritional interventions; control of pneumonia, diarrheal disease and malaria; HIV prevention and treatment; immunizations; integrated management of childhood diseases; and comprehensive primary health care) we have presented randomized controlled trials that have consistently produced statistically significant and operationally important effects.

Conclusions: This review shows that there is strong evidence of effectiveness for CBPHC implementation of an extensive range of interventions to improve child health and that four major strategies for delivering these interventions are effective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Services*
  • Developing Countries
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic