Simon Cousens

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (238)2557.1 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Background: In 2013, an estimated 2.8 million newborns died and 2.7 million were stillborn. A much greater number suffer from long term impairment associated with preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, congenital anomalies, and perinatal or infectious causes. With the approaching deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, there was a need to set the new research priorities on newborns and stillbirth with a focus not only on survival but also on health, growth and development. We therefore carried out a systematic exercise to set newborn health research priorities for 2013-2025. Methods: We used adapted Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) methods for this prioritization exercise. We identified and approached the 200 most productive researchers and 400 program experts, and 132 of them submitted research questions online. These were collated into a set of 205 research questions, sent for scoring to the 600 identified experts, and were assessed and scored by 91 experts. Results: Nine out of top ten identified priorities were in the domain of research on improving delivery of known interventions, with simplified neonatal resuscitation program and clinical algorithms and improved skills of community health workers leading the list. The top 10 priorities in the domain of development were led by ideas on improved Kangaroo Mother Care at community level, how to improve the accuracy of diagnosis by community health workers, and perinatal audits. The 10 leading priorities for discovery research focused on stable surfactant with novel modes of administration for preterm babies, ability to diagnose fetal distress and novel tocolytic agents to delay or stop preterm labour. Conclusion: These findings will assist both donors and researchers in supporting and conducting research to close the knowledge gaps for reducing neonatal mortality, morbidity and long term impairment. WHO, SNL and other partners will work to generate interest among key national stakeholders, governments, NGOs, and research institutes in these priorities, while encouraging research funders to support them. We will track research funding, relevant requests for proposals and trial registers to monitor if the priorities identified by this exercise are being addressed.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2016
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    ABSTRACT: An estimated 2·6 million third trimester stillbirths occurred in 2015 (uncertainty range 2·4–3·0 million). The number of stillbirths has reduced more slowly than has maternal mortality or mortality in children younger than 5 years, which were explicitly targeted in the Millennium Development Goals. The Every Newborn Action Plan has the target of 12 or fewer stillbirths per 1000 births in every country by 2030. 94 mainly high-income countries and upper middle-income countries have already met this target, although with noticeable disparities. At least 56 countries, particularly in Africa and in areas affected by conflict, will have to more than double present progress to reach this target. Most (98%) stillbirths are in low-income and middle-income countries. Improved care at birth is essential to prevent 1·3 million (uncertainty range 1·2–1·6 million) intrapartum stillbirths, end preventable maternal and neonatal deaths, and improve child development. Estimates for stillbirth causation are impeded by various classification systems, but for 18 countries with reliable data, congenital abnormalities account for a median of only 7·4% of stillbirths. Many disorders associated with stillbirths are potentially modifiable and often coexist, such as maternal infections (population attributable fraction: malaria 8·0% and syphilis 7·7%), non-communicable diseases, nutrition and lifestyle factors (each about 10%), and maternal age older than 35 years (6·7%). Prolonged pregnancies contribute to 14·0% of stillbirths. Causal pathways for stillbirth frequently involve impaired placental function, either with fetal growth restriction or preterm labour, or both. Two-thirds of newborns have their births registered. However, less than 5% of neonatal deaths and even fewer stillbirths have death registration. Records and registrations of all births, stillbirths, neonatal, and maternal deaths in a health facility would substantially increase data availability. Improved data alone will not save lives but provide a way to target interventions to reach more than 7000 women every day worldwide who experience the reality of stillbirth.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · The Lancet

  • No preview · Article · Jan 2016
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    ABSTRACT: In Burkina Faso, a comprehensive 35-month radio campaign addressed key, multiple family behaviors for improving under-5 child survival and was evaluated using a repeated cross-sectional, cluster randomized design. The primary outcome of the trial was postneonatal under-5 child mortality. This paper reports on behavior change achieved at midline. Fourteen community radio stations in 14 geographic areas were selected based on their high listenership. Seven areas were randomly allocated to receive the intervention while the other 7 areas served as controls. The campaign was launched in March 2012. Cross-sectional surveys of about 5,000 mothers of under-5 children, living in villages close to the radio stations, were conducted at baseline (from December 2011 to February 2012) and at midline (in November 2013), after 20 months of campaigning. Statistical analyses were based on cluster-level summaries using a difference-in-difference (DiD) approach and adjusted for imbalances between arms at baseline. In addition, routine health facility data were analyzed for evidence of changes in health facility utilization. At midline, 75% of women in the intervention arm reported recognizing radio spots from the campaign. There was some evidence of the campaign having positive effects on care seeking for diarrhea (adjusted DiD, 17.5 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.5 to 32.5; P = .03), antibiotic treatment for fast/difficult breathing (adjusted DiD, 29.6 percentage points; 95% CI, 3.5 to 55.7; P = .03), and saving money during pregnancy (adjusted DiD, 12.8 percentage points; 95% CI, 1.4 to 24.2; P = .03). For other target behaviors, there was little or no evidence of an impact of the campaign after adjustment for baseline imbalances and confounding factors. There was weak evidence of a positive correlation between the intensity of broadcasting of messages and reported changes in target behaviors. Routine health facility data were consistent with a greater increase in the intervention arm than in the control arm in all-cause under-5 consultations (33% versus 17%, respectively), but the difference was not statistically significant (P = .40). The radio campaign reached a high proportion of the primary target population, but the evidence for an impact on key child survival-related behaviors at midline was mixed.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Global Health: Science and Practice
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    ABSTRACT: Small-for-gestational-age (SGA) and preterm births are associated with adverse health consequences, including neonatal and infant mortality, childhood undernutrition, and adulthood chronic disease. The specific aims of this study were to estimate the association between short maternal stature and outcomes of SGA alone, preterm birth alone, or both, and to calculate the population attributable fraction of SGA and preterm birth associated with short maternal stature. We conducted an individual participant data meta-analysis with the use of data sets from 12 population-based cohort studies and the WHO Global Survey on Maternal and Perinatal Health (13 of 24 available data sets used) from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). We included those with weight taken within 72 h of birth, gestational age, and maternal height data (n = 177,000). For each of these studies, we individually calculated RRs between height exposure categories of <145 cm, 145 to <150 cm, and 150 to <155 cm (reference: ≥155 cm) and outcomes of SGA, preterm birth, and their combination categories. SGA was defined with the use of both the International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century (INTERGROWTH-21st) birth weight standard and the 1991 US birth weight reference. The associations were then meta-analyzed. All short stature categories were statistically significantly associated with term SGA, preterm appropriate-for-gestational-age (AGA), and preterm SGA births (reference: term AGA). When using the INTERGROWTH-21st standard to define SGA, women <145 cm had the highest adjusted risk ratios (aRRs) (term SGA: aRR 2.03, 95% CI: 1.76, 2.35; preterm AGA: aRR 1.45, 95% CI: 1.26, 1.66; preterm SGA: aRR 2-13, 95% CI: 1.42, 3.21). Similar associations were seen for SGA defined by the US reference. Annually, 5.5 million term SGA (18.6% of the global total), 550,800 preterm AGA (5.0% of the global total), and 458,000 preterm SGA (16.5% of the global total) births may be associated with maternal short stature. Approximately 6.5 million SGA and/or preterm births in LMIC may be associated with short maternal stature annually. A reduction in this burden requires primary prevention of SGA, improvement in postnatal growth through early childhood, and possibly further intervention in late childhood and adolescence. It is vital for researchers to broaden the evidence base for addressing chronic malnutrition through multiple life stages, and for program implementers to explore effective, sustainable ways of reaching the most vulnerable populations.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Journal of Nutrition
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    ABSTRACT: We report a cluster-randomised trial of a home-based counselling strategy, designed for large-scale implementation, in a population of 1.2 million people in rural southern Tanzania. We hypothesised that the strategy would improve neonatal survival by around 15%. In 2010 we trained 824 female volunteers to make three home visits to women and their families during pregnancy and two visits to them in the first few days of the infant's life in 65 wards, selected randomly from all 132 wards in six districts in Mtwara and Lindi regions, constituting typical rural areas in Southern Tanzania. The remaining wards were comparison areas. Participants were not blinded to the intervention. The primary analysis was an intention-to-treat analysis comparing the neonatal mortality (day 0-27) per 1,000 live births in intervention and comparison wards based on a representative survey in 185,000 households in 2013 with a response rate of 90%. We included 24,381 and 23,307 live births between July 2010 and June 2013 and 7,823 and 7,555 live births in the last year in intervention and comparison wards, respectively. We also compared changes in neonatal mortality and newborn care practices in intervention and comparison wards using baseline census data from 2007 including 225,000 households and 22,243 births in five of the six intervention districts. Amongst the 7,823 women with a live birth in the year prior to survey in intervention wards, 59% and 41% received at least one volunteer visit during pregnancy and postpartum, respectively. Neonatal mortality reduced from 35.0 to 30.5 deaths per 1,000 live births between 2007 and 2013 in the five districts, respectively. There was no evidence of an impact of the intervention on neonatal survival (odds ratio [OR] 1.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.9-1.2, p = 0.339). Newborn care practices reported by mothers were better in intervention than in comparison wards, including immediate breastfeeding (42% of 7,287 versus 35% of 7,008, OR 1.4, CI 1.3-1.6, p < 0.001), feeding only breast milk for the first 3 d (90% of 7,557 versus 79% of 7,307, OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.8-2.7, p < 0.001), and clean hands for home delivery (92% of 1,351 versus 88% of 1,799, OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0-2.3, p = 0.033). Facility delivery improved dramatically in both groups from 41% of 22,243 in 2007 and was 82% of 7,820 versus 75% of 7,553 (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.2-2.0, p = 0.002) in intervention and comparison wards in 2013. Methodological limitations include our inability to rule out some degree of leakage of the intervention into the comparison areas and response bias for newborn care behaviours. Neonatal mortality remained high despite better care practices and childbirth in facilities becoming common. Public health action to improve neonatal survival in this setting should include a focus on improving the quality of facility-based childbirth care. NCT01022788.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · PLoS Medicine
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    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015

  • No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · The Lancet
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    ABSTRACT: Families in high mortality settings need regular contact with high quality services, but existing population-based measurements of contacts do not reflect quality. To address this, in 2012, we designed linked household and frontline worker surveys for Gombe State, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Uttar Pradesh, India. Using reported frequency and content of contacts, we present a method for estimating the population level coverage of high quality contacts. Linked cluster-based household and frontline health worker surveys were performed. Interviews were conducted in 40, 80 and 80 clusters in Gombe, Ethiopia, and Uttar Pradesh, respectively, including 348, 533, and 604 eligible women and 20, 76, and 55 skilled birth attendants. High quality contacts were defined as contacts during which recommended set of processes for routine health care were met. In Gombe, 61% (95% confidence interval 50-72) of women had at least one antenatal contact, 22% (14-29) delivered with a skilled birth attendant, 7% (4-9) had a post-partum check and 4% (2-8) of newborns had a post-natal check. Coverage of high quality contacts was reduced to 11% (6-16), 8% (5-11), 0%, and 0% respectively. In Ethiopia, 56% (49-63) had at least one antenatal contact, 15% (11-22) delivered with a skilled birth attendant, 3% (2-6) had a post-partum check and 4% (2-6) of newborns had a post-natal check. Coverage of high quality contacts was 4% (2-6), 4% (2-6), 0%, and 0%, respectively. In Uttar Pradesh 74% (69-79) had at least one antenatal contact, 76% (71-80) delivered with a skilled birth attendant, 54% (48-59) had a post-partum check and 19% (15-23) of newborns had a post-natal check. Coverage of high quality contacts was 6% (4-8), 4% (2-6), 0%, and 0% respectively. Measuring content of care to reflect the quality of contacts can reveal missed opportunities to deliver best possible health care.
    Preview · Article · May 2015 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: Many people recognise that mass media is important in promoting public health but there have been few attempts to measure how important. An ongoing trial in Burkina Faso (, NCT01517230) is an attempt to bring together the very different worlds of mass media and epidemiology: to measure rigorously, using a cluster-randomised design, how many lives mass media can save in a low-income country, and at what cost. Application of the Lives Saved Tool predicts that saturation-based media campaigns could reduce child mortality by 10-20%, at a cost per disability-adjusted life-year that is as low as any existing health intervention. In this Viewpoint we explain the scientific reasoning behind the trial, while stressing the importance of the media methodology used. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · The Lancet

  • No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
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    Shefali Oza · Joy E Lawn · Daniel R Hogan · Colin Mathers · Simon N Cousens
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To estimate cause-of-death distributions in the early (0–6 days of age) and late (7–27 days of age) neonatal periods, for 194 countries between 2000 and 2013. Methods For 65 countries with high-quality vital registration, we used each country’s observed early and late neonatal proportional cause distributions. For the remaining 129 countries, we used multinomial logistic models to estimate these distributions. For countries with low child mortality we used vital registration data as inputs and for countries with high child mortality we used neonatal cause-of-death distribution data from studies in similar settings. We applied cause-specific proportions to neonatal death estimates from the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, by country and year, to estimate cause-specific risks and numbers of deaths. Findings Over time, neonatal deaths decreased for most causes. Of the 2.8 million neonatal deaths in 2013, 0.99 million deaths (uncertainty range: 0.70–1.31) were estimated to be caused by preterm birth complications, 0.64 million (uncertainty range: 0.46–0.84) by intrapartum complications and 0.43 million (uncertainty range: 0.22–0.66) by sepsis and other severe infections. Preterm birth (40.8%) and intrapartum complications (27.0%) accounted for most early neonatal deaths while infections caused nearly half of late neonatal deaths. Preterm birth complications were the leading cause of death in all regions of the world. Conclusion The neonatal cause-of-death distribution differs between the early and late periods and varies with neonatal mortality rate level. To reduce neonatal deaths, effective interventions to address these causes must be incorporated into policy decisions.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Bulletin of the World Health Organisation
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    Shefali Oza · Simon N Cousens · Joy E Lawn
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    ABSTRACT: The days immediately after birth are the most risky for human survival, yet neonatal mortality risks are generally not reported by day. Early neonatal deaths are sometimes under-reported or might be misclassified by day of death or as stillbirths. We modelled daily neonatal mortality risk and estimated the proportion of deaths on the day of birth and in week 1 for 186 countries in 2013. We reviewed data from vital registration (VR) and demographic and health surveys for information on the timing of neonatal deaths. For countries with high-quality VR we used the data as reported. For countries without high-quality VR data, we applied an exponential model to data from 206 surveys in 79 countries (n=50 396 deaths) to estimate the proportions of neonatal deaths per day and used bootstrap sampling to develop uncertainty estimates. 57 countries (n=122 757 deaths) had high-quality VR, and modelled data were used for 129 countries. The proportion of deaths on the day of birth (day 0) and within week 1 varied little by neonatal mortality rate, income, or region. 1·00 million (36.3%) of all neonatal deaths occurred on day 0 (uncertainty range 0·94 million to 1·05 million), and 2·02 million (73.2%) in the first week (uncertainty range 1·99 million to 2·05 million). Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest risk of neonatal death and, therefore, had the highest risk of death on day 0 (11·2 per 1000 livebirths); the highest number of deaths on day 0 was seen in southern Asia (n=392 300). The risk of early neonatal death is very high across a range of countries and contexts. Cost-effective and feasible interventions to improve neonatal and maternity care could save many lives. Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives programme. Copyright © 2014 Oza et al. Open Access article distributed under the terms of CC BY. Published by .. All rights reserved.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2014 · The Lancet Global Health
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    ABSTRACT: In diverse fields of empirical research—including many in the biological sciences—attempts are made to decompose the effect of an exposure on an outcome into its effects via a number of different pathways. For example, we may wish to separate the effect of heavy alcohol consumption on systolic blood pressure (SBP) into effects via body mass index (BMI), via gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), and via other pathways. Much progress has been made, mainly due to contributions from the field of causal inference, in understanding the precise nature of statistical estimands that capture such intuitive effects, the assumptions under which they can be identified, and statistical methods for doing so. These contributions have focused almost entirely on settings with a single mediator, or a set of mediators considered en bloc; in many applications, however, researchers attempt a much more ambitious decomposition into numerous path-specific effects through many mediators. In this article, we give counterfactual definitions of such path-specific estimands in settings with multiple mediators, when earlier mediators may affect later ones, showing that there are many ways in which decomposition can be done. We discuss the strong assumptions under which the effects are identified, suggesting a sensitivity analysis approach when a particular subset of the assumptions cannot be justified. These ideas are illustrated using data on alcohol consumption, SBP, BMI, and GGT from the Izhevsk Family Study. We aim to bridge the gap from “single mediator theory” to “multiple mediator practice,” highlighting the ambitious nature of this endeavor and giving practical suggestions on how to proceed.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Biometrics
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    ABSTRACT: Background Trend data for causes of child death are crucial to inform priorities for improving child survival by and beyond 2015. We report child mortality by cause estimates in 2000–13, and cause-specific mortality scenarios to 2030 and 2035. Methods We estimated the distributions of causes of child mortality separately for neonates and children aged 1–59 months. To generate cause-specific mortality fractions, we included new vital registration and verbal autopsy data. We used vital registration data in countries with adequate registration systems. We applied vital registration-based multicause models for countries with low under-5 mortality but inadequate vital registration, and updated verbal autopsy-based multicause models for high mortality countries. We used updated numbers of child deaths to derive numbers of deaths by causes. We applied two scenarios to derive cause-specific mortality in 2030 and 2035. Findings Of the 6·3 million children who died before age 5 years in 2013, 51·8% (3·257 million) died of infectious causes and 44% (2·761 million) died in the neonatal period. The three leading causes are preterm birth complications (0·965 million [15·4%, uncertainty range (UR) 9·8−24·5]; UR 0·615–1·537 million), pneumonia (0·935 million [14·9%, 13·0–16·8]; 0·817–1·057 million), and intrapartum-related complications (0·662 million [10·5%, 6·7–16·8]; 0·421–1·054 million). Reductions in pneumonia, diarrhoea, and measles collectively were responsible for half of the 3·6 million fewer deaths recorded in 2013 versus 2000. Causes with the slowest progress were congenital, preterm, neonatal sepsis, injury, and other causes. If present trends continue, 4·4 million children younger than 5 years will still die in 2030. Furthermore, sub-Saharan Africa will have 33% of the births and 60% of the deaths in 2030, compared with 25% and 50% in 2013, respectively. Interpretation Our projection results provide concrete examples of how the distribution of child causes of deaths could look in 15–20 years to inform priority setting in the post-2015 era. More evidence is needed about shifts in timing, causes, and places of under-5 deaths to inform child survival agendas by and beyond 2015, to end preventable child deaths in a generation, and to count and account for every newborn and every child. Funding Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · The Lancet
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    ABSTRACT: Bacterial infections are a leading cause of the 2·9 million annual neonatal deaths. Treatment is usually based on clinical diagnosis of possible severe bacterial infection (pSBI). To guide programme planning, we have undertaken the first estimates of neonatal pSBI, by sex and by region, for sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and Latin America. METHODS We included data for pSBI incidence in neonates of 32 weeks' gestation or more (or birthweight ≥1500 g) with livebirth denominator data, undertaking a systematic review and forming an investigator group to obtain unpublished data. We calculated pooled risk estimates for neonatal pSBI and case fatality risk, by sex and by region. We then applied these risk estimates to estimates of livebirths in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and Latin America to estimate cases and associated deaths in 2012. FINDINGS We included data from 22 studies, for 259 944 neonates and 20 196 pSBI cases, with most of the data (18 of the 22 studies) coming from the investigator group. The pooled estimate of pSBI incidence risk was 7·6% (95% CI 6·1-9·2%) and the case-fatality risk associated with pSBI was 9·8% (7·4-12·2). We estimated that in 2012 there were 6·9 million cases (uncertainty range 5·5 million-8·3 million) of pSBI in neonates needing treatment: 3·5 million (2·8 million-4·2 million) in south Asia, 2·6 million (2·1 million-3·1 million) in sub-Saharan Africa, and 0·8 million (0·7 million-1·0 million) in Latin America. The risk of pSBI was greater in boys (risk ratio 1·12, 95% CI 1·06-1·18) than girls. We estimated that there were 0·68 million (0·46 million-0·92 million) neonatal deaths associated with pSBI in 2012. INTERPRETATION The need-to-treat population for pSBI in these three regions is high, with ten cases of pSBI diagnosed for each associated neonatal death. Deaths and disability can be reduced through improved prevention, detection, and case management. FUNDING The Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through grants to Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) and Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives programme.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · The Lancet Infectious Diseases
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    Sapna Desai · Tara Sinha · Ajay Mahal · Simon Cousens
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    ABSTRACT: Background Community-based health insurance has been associated with increased hospitalisation in low-income settings, but with limited analysis of the illnesses for which claims are submitted. A review of claims submitted to VimoSEWA, an inpatient insurance scheme in Gujarat, India, found that fever, diarrhoea and hysterectomy, the latter at a mean age of 37 years, were the leading reasons for claims by adult women. We compared the morbidity, outpatient treatment-seeking and hospitalisation patterns of VimoSEWA-insured women with uninsured women. Methods We utilised data from a cross-sectional survey of 1,934 insured and uninsured women in Gujarat, India. Multivariable logistic regression identified predictors of insurance coverage and the association of insurance with hospitalisation. Self-reported data on morbidity, outpatient care and hospitalisation were compared between insured and uninsured women. Results Age, marital status and occupation of adult women were associated with insurance status. Reported recent morbidity, type of illness and outpatient treatment were similar among insured and uninsured women. Multivariable analysis revealed strong evidence of a higher odds of hospitalisation amongst the insured (OR = 2.7; 95% ci. 1.6, 4.7). The leading reason for hospitalisation for uninsured and insured women was hysterectomy, at a similar mean age of 36, followed by common ailments such as fever and diarrhoea. Insured women appeared to have a higher probability of being hospitalised than uninsured women for all causes, rather than specifically for fever, diarrhoea or hysterectomy. Length of stay was similar while choice of hospital differed between insured and uninsured women. Conclusions Despite similar reported morbidity patterns and initial treatment-seeking behaviour, VimoSEWA members were more likely to be hospitalised. The data did not provide strong evidence that inpatient hospitalisation replaced outpatient treatment for common illnesses or that insurance was the primary inducement for hysterectomy in the population. Rather, it appears that VimoSEWA members behaved differently in deciding if, and where, to be hospitalised for any condition. Further research is required to explore this decision-making process and roles, if any, played by adverse selection and moral hazard. Lastly, these hospitalisation patterns raise concerns regarding population health needs and access to quality preventive and outpatient services.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · BMC Health Services Research
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    ABSTRACT: In Sub-Saharan Africa over one million newborns die annually. We developed a sustainable and scalable home-based counselling intervention for delivery by community volunteers in rural southern Tanzania to improve newborn care practices and survival. Here we report the effect on newborn care practices one year after full implementation. All 132 wards in the 6-district study area were randomised to intervention or comparison groups. Starting in 2010, in intervention areas trained volunteers made home visits during pregnancy and after childbirth to promote recommended newborn care practices including hygiene, breastfeeding and identification and extra care for low birth weight babies. In 2011, in a representative sample of 5,240 households, we asked women who had given birth in the previous year both about counselling visits and their childbirth and newborn care practices. Four of 14 newborn care practices were more commonly reported in intervention than comparison areas: delaying the baby’s first bath by at least six hours (81% versus 68%, OR 2.0 (95% CI 1.2-3.4)), exclusive breastfeeding in the three days after birth (83% versus 71%, OR 1.9 (95% CI 1.3-2.9)), putting nothing on the cord (87% versus 70%, OR 2.8 (95% CI 1.7-4.6)), and, for home births, tying the cord with a clean thread (69% versus 39%, OR 3.4 (95% CI 1.5-7.5)). For other behaviours there was little evidence of differences in reported practices between intervention and comparison areas including childbirth in a health facility or with a skilled attendant, thermal care practices, breastfeeding within an hour of birth and, for home births, the birth attendant having clean hands, cutting the cord with a clean blade and birth preparedness activities. A home-based counselling strategy using volunteers and designed for scale-up can improve newborn care behaviours in rural communities of southern Tanzania. Further research is needed to evaluate if, and at what cost, these gains will lead to improved newborn survival. Trial registration Trial Registration Number NCT01022788 (, 2009)
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · BMC Pediatrics
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    ABSTRACT: Each year almost 3 million newborns die within the first 28 days of life, 2.6 million babies are stillborn, and 287,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth worldwide. Effective and cost-effective interventions and behaviours for mothers and newborns exist, but their coverage remains inadequate in low- and middle-income countries, where the vast majority of deaths occur. Cost-effective strategies are needed to increase the coverage of life-saving maternal and newborn interventions and behaviours in resource-constrained settings. METHODS A systematic review was undertaken on the cost-effectiveness of strategies to improve the demand and supply of maternal and newborn health care in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Peer-reviewed and grey literature published since 1990 was searched using bibliographic databases, websites of selected organizations, and reference lists of relevant studies and reviews. Publications were eligible for inclusion if they report on a behavioural or health systems strategy that sought to improve the utilization or provision of care during pregnancy, childbirth or the neonatal period; report on its cost-effectiveness; and were set in one or more low-income or lower-middle-income countries. The quality of the publications was assessed using the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards statement. Incremental cost per life-year saved and per disability-adjusted life-year averted were compared to gross domestic product per capita. RESULTS Forty-eight publications were identified, which reported on 43 separate studies. Sixteen were judged to be of high quality. Common themes were identified and the strategies were presented in relation to the continuum of care and the level of the health system. There was reasonably strong evidence for the cost-effectiveness of the use of women's groups, home-based newborn care using community health workers and traditional birth attendants, adding services to routine antenatal care, a facility-based quality improvement initiative to enhance compliance with care standards, and the promotion of breastfeeding in maternity hospitals. Other strategies reported cost-effectiveness measures that had limited comparability. CONCLUSION Demand and supply-side strategies to improve maternal and newborn health care can be cost-effective, though the evidence is limited by the paucity of high quality studies and the use of disparate cost-effectiveness measures. TRIAL REGISTRATION PROSPERO_ CRD42012003255.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
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    ABSTRACT: Nearly a decade ago, The Lancet published the Neonatal Survival Series, with an ambitious call for integration of newborn care across the continuum of reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition (RMNCH). In this first of five papers in the Every Newborn Series, we consider what has changed during this decade, assessing progress on the basis of a systematic policy heuristic including agenda-setting, policy formulation and adoption, leadership and partnership, implementation, and evaluation of effect. Substantial progress has been made in agenda setting and policy formulation for newborn health, as witnessed by the shift from maternal and child health to maternal, newborn, and child health as a standard. However, investment and large-scale implementation have been disappointingly small, especially in view of the size of the burden and potential for rapid change and synergies throughout the RMNCH continuum. Moreover, stillbirths remain invisible on the global health agenda. Hence that progress in improvement of newborn survival and reduction of stillbirths lags behind that of maternal mortality and deaths for children aged 1–59 months is not surprising. Faster progress is possible, but with several requirements: clear communication of the interventions with the greatest effect and how to overcome bottlenecks for scale-up; national leadership, and technical capacity to integrate and implement these interventions; global coordination of partners, especially within countries, in provision of technical assistance and increased funding; increased domestic investment in newborn health, and access to specific commodities and equipment where needed; better data to monitor progress, with local data used for programme improvement; and accountability for results at all levels, including demand from communities and mortality targets in the post-2015 framework. Who will step up during the next decade to ensure decision making in countries leads to implementation of stillbirth and newborn health interventions within RMNCH programmes?
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · The Lancet

Publication Stats

15k Citations
2,557.10 Total Impact Points


  • 1989-2015
    • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
      • • Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
      • • Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health
      • • Department of Nutrition and Public Health Interventions Research
      • • Tropical Epidemiology Group (TEG)
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2013
    • Save the Children
      Вэстпорт, Connecticut, United States
  • 2010
    • NHS Blood and Transplant
      Watford, England, United Kingdom
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of International Health
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2007
    • Centre National de Recherche et de Formation sur le Paludisme
      Wagadugu, Centre, Burkina Faso
  • 2004
    • Institute for Child Health Policy (ICHP)
      International Falls, Minnesota, United States
    • University of São Paulo
      • School of Public Health (FSP)
      San Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 2003
    • National Ear Care Centre Kaduna Nigeria
      Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria
  • 2001-2003
    • Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
      • Department of Glaucoma Services
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1997
    • Ahmadu Bello University
      • Department of Ophthalmology
      Заря, Kaduna, Nigeria
  • 1994
    • Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital
      Заря, Kaduna, Nigeria
  • 1993
    • University of London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom