Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Special supplement in Journal of Perinatology

27 November 2008

A newborn child
WHO/P. Virot

Approximately one million newborn deaths could be avoided every year through the promotion of optimal newborn care practices at home. To be most effective, these interventions need site-specific information on existing newborn care practices, barriers and facilitating factors for adopting optimal practices. They also need information on how to reach those who are the decision-makers in the family in a convincing and motivating way.

Such information is often collected in the context of research projects, as part of the “formative research” for intervention design. Despite its value, this information often goes unpublished.

To meet this need, WHO's Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development (CAH) organized a workshop on formative research for newborn health interventions in Udaipur, India, in April 2006. The workshop brought together the experience in conducting formative research from recently completed and ongoing studies to evaluate newborn health interventions. Investigators from nine studies in five countries in South Asia and Africa participated in the workshop.

A collection of papers resulting from these studies has been edited by CAH staff and is due to appear as a special supplement to the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Perinatology.

As the studies addressed different maternal and newborn care practices, it was possible to examine and present in the supplement a comprehensive range of areas of care. Studies focused on childbirth practices, early initiation of breastfeeding, umbilical cord care, low-birth-weight care, and care seeking for neonatal illness. The last two papers in the supplement describe the process of use of formative research findings in the design of a women's group intervention in Nepal and that of a home-based newborn care intervention in Ghana.

The information in the supplement is applicable to many developing countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, for developing and implementing programmes for improving newborn care practices.

An electronic copy of the supplement will be available for download at: