WHO: Women's groups can help fight newborn deaths

Groups of women should co-operate as part of a new type of intervention to promote safe motherhood and boost the health of mothers and children, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

The body has been developing and testing the process in four partner countries based on a UCL Institute for Global Health report, which found that being exposed to women’s groups could cut neonatal mortality by a fifth.

Higher levels of participation led to improved outcomes too. Where women’s group programmes had involved at least 30 per cent of pregnant women, maternal mortality also fell by nearly 50 per cent, while neonatal deaths declined by a third.

Building on the research, WHO has developed the intervention to enable women to collaborate on identifying pregnancy, delivery and post-partum difficulties.

Based on their findings, they will then develop and introduce strategies to tackle the issues and evaluate their work.

“The WHO recommendation acknowledges that creating a forum for women to come together, discuss and address problems that matter for their health and that of their infants can actually save lives,” says Dr Audrey Prost, who led the UCL research.

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