EquiNaM: building evidence to support equitable improvement in newborn and maternal health

Tanja Houweling

EquiNaM builds evidence to support an equitable improvement in newborn and maternal health. In particular, we generate evidence on: (1) how socio-economic inequalities translate into inequalities in newborn and maternal mortality within countries; (2) how to address the exclusion of poor and otherwise marginalised groups from efforts to achieve the MDGs; and (3) how to reduce socio-economic inequalities in newborn and maternal and newborn mortality.

Millennium Development Goals

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been highly uneven. Poor and otherwise disadvantaged groups lag behind their more fortunate compatriots for most MDGs. To make things worse, effective interventions are known, but rarely reach those who need them most. Unfortunately, little is known about how to effectively reach poor and otherwise disadvantaged groups, and how to address socio-economic inequalities in mortality.

EquiNaM uses an integrated approach to support an equitable improvement in newborn and maternal health by (i) generating evidence using high-quality data and randomised controlled trials and (ii) learning from and engaging with stakeholders to support the uptake of our newly generated evidence base.

Maternal and newborn mortality studies

EquiNam builds on a global network of demographic surveillance sites that provides some of the largest population-bases of prospectively collected data for maternal and newborn mortality studies in low and middle income countries. We use data from six sites, in India (Mumbai and Orissa & Jharkhand), rural Nepal (Dhanusha, and Makwanpur districts), rural Bangladesh and rural Malawi, with a combined population of over 2 million.

The surveillance sites were set up to evaluate the impact of community mobilisation interventions on neonatal mortality. The intervention consists of women’s groups, facilitated by a local woman, that meet monthly. The facilitator leads the groups through a participatory action cycle, in which they identify and prioritise maternal and newborn health problems in the community, collectively select relevant strategies to address them, implement the strategies, and evaluate the results.

Principal Investigator

Tanja AJ Houweling, PhD

    Involved Researchers & Departments

    • Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam
    • UCL Institute for Global Health, London, UK
    • MaiMwana, Mchinji, Malawi
    • Perinatal Care Project (PCP), Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (BADAS), Dhaka, Bangladesh
    • Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA), Mumbai, India
    • Ekjut, Chakradharpur, India
    • Mother and Infant Research Activities (MIRA), Kathmandu, Nepal

    Countries Involved 

    India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malawi




    Contact info

    Tanja A.J. Houweling, Dr., PhD (Public Health)

    Visit the EquiNaM website for more information on this project

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