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      Correlates of the Women’s Development Army strategy implementation strength with household reproductive, maternal, newborn and child healthcare practices: a cross-sectional study in four regions of Ethiopia

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          To address the shortfall in human resources for health, Ethiopia launched the Health Extension Program (HEP) in 2004, establishing a health post with two female health extension workers (HEWs) in every kebele (community). In 2011, the Women’s Development Army (WDA) strategy was added, using networks of neighboring women to increase the efficiency of HEWs in reaching every household, with one WDA team leader for every 30 households. Through the strategy, women in the community, in partnership with HEWs, share and learn about health practices and empower one another. This study assessed the association between the WDA strategy implementation strength and household reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health care behaviors and practices.


          Using cross-sectional household surveys and community-level contextual data from 423 kebeles representing 145 rural districts, an internal comparison group design was applied to assess whether HEP outreach activity and household-level care practices were better in kebeles with a higher WDA density. The density of active WDA leaders was considered as WDA strategy implementation strength; higher WDA density in a kebele indicating relatively high implementation strength. Based on this, kebeles were classified as higher, moderate, or lower. Multilevel logit models, adjusted for respondents’ individual, household and contextual characteristics, were used to assess the associations of WDA strategy implementation strength with outcome indicators of interest.


          Average numbers of households per active WDA team leader in the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles of the kebeles studied were respectively 41, 50 and 73. WDA density was associated with better service for six of 13 indicators considered ( p < 0.05). For example, kebeles with one active WDA team leader for up to 40 households (higher category) had respectively 7 (95% CI, 2, 13), 11 (5, 17) and 9 (1, 17) percentage-points higher contraceptive prevalence rate, coverage of four or more antenatal care visits, and coverage of institutional deliveries respectively, compared with kebeles with one active WDA team leader for 60 or more households (lower category).


          Higher WDA strategy implementation strength was associated with better health care behaviors and practices, suggesting that the WDA strategy supported HEWs in improving health care services delivery.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s12884-018-1975-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data--or tears: an application to educational enrollments in states of India.

          Using data from India, we estimate the relationship between household wealth and children's school enrollment. We proxy wealth by constructing a linear index from asset ownership indicators, using principal-components analysis to derive weights. In Indian data this index is robust to the assets included, and produces internally coherent results. State-level results correspond well to independent data on per capita output and poverty. To validate the method and to show that the asset index predicts enrollments as accurately as expenditures, or more so, we use data sets from Indonesia, Pakistan, and Nepal that contain information on both expenditures and assets. The results show large, variable wealth gaps in children's enrollment across Indian states. On average a "rich" child is 31 percentage points more likely to be enrolled than a "poor" child, but this gap varies from only 4.6 percentage points in Kerala to 38.2 in Uttar Pradesh and 42.6 in Bihar.
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            Achieving child survival goals: potential contribution of community health workers.

            There is renewed interest in the potential contribution of community health workers to child survival. Community health workers can undertake various tasks, including case management of childhood illnesses (eg, pneumonia, malaria, and neonatal sepsis) and delivery of preventive interventions such as immunisation, promotion of healthy behaviour, and mobilisation of communities. Several trials show substantial reductions in child mortality, particularly through case management of ill children by these types of community interventions. However, community health workers are not a panacea for weak health systems and will need focussed tasks, adequate remuneration, training, supervision, and the active involvement of the communities in which they work. The introduction of large-scale programmes for community health workers requires evaluation to document the impact on child survival and cost effectiveness and to elucidate factors associated with success and sustainability.
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              Community-based interventions for improving perinatal and neonatal health outcomes in developing countries: a review of the evidence.

              Infant and under-5 childhood mortality rates in developing countries have declined significantly in the past 2 to 3 decades. However, 2 critical indicators, maternal and newborn mortality, have hardly changed. World leaders at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000 agreed on a critical goal to reduce deaths of children <5 years by two thirds, but this may be unattainable without halving newborn deaths, which now comprise 40% of all under-5 deaths. Greater emphasis on wide-scale implementation of proven, cost-effective measures is required to save women's and newborns' lives. Approximately 99% of neonatal deaths take place in developing countries, mostly in homes and communities. A comprehensive review of the evidence base for impact of interventions on neonatal health and survival in developing-country communities has not been reported. This review of community-based antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal intervention trials in developing countries aimed to identify (1) key behaviors and interventions for which the weight of evidence is sufficient to recommend their inclusion in community-based neonatal care programs and (2) key gaps in knowledge and priority areas for future research and program learning. Available published and unpublished data on the impact of community-based strategies and interventions on perinatal and neonatal health status outcomes were reviewed. Evidence was summarized systematically and categorized into 4 levels of evidence based on study size, location, design, and reported impact, particularly on perinatal or neonatal mortality. The evidence was placed in the context of biological plausibility of the intervention; evidence from relevant developed-country studies; health care program experience in implementation; and recommendations from the World Health Organization and other leading agencies. A paucity of community-based data was found from developing-country studies on health status impact for many interventions currently being considered for inclusion in neonatal health programs. However, review of the evidence and consideration of the broader context of knowledge, experience, and recommendations regarding these interventions enabled us to categorize them according to the strength of the evidence base and confidence regarding their inclusion now in programs. This article identifies a package of priority interventions to include in programs and formulates research priorities for advancing the state of the art in neonatal health care. This review emphasizes some new findings while recommending an integrated approach to safe motherhood and newborn health. The results of this study provide a foundation for policies and programs related to maternal and newborn health and emphasizes the importance of health systems research and evaluation of interventions. The review offers compelling support for using research to identify the most effective measures to save newborn lives. It also may facilitate dialogue with policy makers about the importance of investing in neonatal health.

                Author and article information

                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
                BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
                BioMed Central (London )
                24 September 2018
                24 September 2018
                : 18
                Issue : Suppl 1 Issue sponsor : Publication of this supplement has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The articles have undergone the journal's standard peer review process for supplements. The Supplement Editors declare that they have no competing interests.
                [1 ]GRID grid.414835.f, Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, Health Extension and Primary Health Service Directorate, ; Sudan Street, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
                [2 ]Last 10 Kilometers Project (L10K) 2020, JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc, Bole Sub-City, Kebele 03/05, Hs #, 2111 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0425 469X, GRID grid.8991.9, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, , London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, ; Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT UK
                © The Author(s). 2018

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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