Community-Based Care to Improve Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health

Authors: Zohra Lassi, Rohail Kumar, Zulfiqar Bhutta


Summarizes evidence on the impact of community-based programs for improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) by (1) describing contextual factors affecting implementation; (2) considering issues of cost-effectiveness; and (3) highlighting research gaps, the challenges of scaling up, and the way forward. As countries grow due to increased global economic development, existing health care systems prove ill equipped to deal with the new population increments. Even with the expansion of health care systems, resources may remain limited or facilities may prove inaccessible to increasing segments of the population. Maternal, neonatal, and child mortality and morbidity continue as persistent challenges, particularly in rural areas. Issues of cultural barriers, political instability, poverty, and poor educational systems contribute to ill health. Improving RMNCH requires successful community engagement, and the integration of community care subsystems into the primary care health system will have wide-ranging effects on the sustainability, effectiveness, and longevity of community health systems.