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Designing for action: adapting and implementing a community-based newborn care package to affect national change in Uganda
Department of Health Policy, Planning and Management, School of Public Health, College of Health Science, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
Department of Health Policy, Planning and Management, School of Public Health, College of Health Science, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
Saving Newborn Lives, Save the Children, Cape Town, South Africa.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH). (Internationell barnhälsa och nutrition/Persson)
2015 (English)In: Global Health Action, ISSN 1654-9716, E-ISSN 1654-9880, Vol. 8, 24250Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


There is a lack of literature on how to adapt new evidence-based interventions for maternal and newborn care into local health systems and policy for rapid scale-up, particularly for community-based interventions in low-income settings. The Uganda Newborn Study (UNEST) was a cluster randomised control trial to test a community-based care package which was rapidly taken up at national level. Understanding this process may help inform other studies looking to design and evaluate with scale-up in mind.


This study aimed to describe the process of using evidence to design a community-based maternal and newborn care package in rural eastern Uganda, and to determine the dissemination and advocacy approaches used to facilitate rapid policy change and national uptake.


We reviewed UNEST project literature including meeting reports and minutes, supervision reports, and annual and midterm reports. National stakeholders, project and district staff were interviewed regarding their role in the study and perceptions of what contributed to uptake of the package under evaluation. Data related to UNEST formative research, study design, implementation and policy influence were extracted and analysed.


An advisory committee of key players in development of maternal and newborn policies and programmes in Uganda was constituted from many agencies and disciplines. Baseline qualitative and quantitative data collection was done at district, community and facility level to examine applicability of aspects of a proposed newborn care package to the local setting. Data were summarised and presented to stakeholders to adapt the intervention that was ultimately tested. Quarterly monitoring of key activities and events around the interventions were used to further inform implementation. The UNEST training package, home visit schedule and behaviour change counselling materials were incorporated into the national Village Health Team and Integrated Community Case Management packages while the study was ongoing.


Designing interventions for national scale-up requires strategies and planning from the outset. Use of evidence alongside engagement of key stakeholders and targeted advocacy about the burden and potential solutions is important when adapting interventions to local health systems and communities. This approach has the potential to rapidly translate research into policy, but care must be taken not to exceed available evidence while seizing the policy opportunity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 8, 24250
Keyword [en]
newborn health; maternal health; community health worker; pregnancy; postnatal care; Uganda; formative research; health policy
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-251593DOI: 10.3402/gha.v8.24250ISI: 000377758400001PubMedID: 25843494OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-251593DiVA: diva2:806747
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Available from: 2015-04-21 Created: 2015-04-21 Last updated: 2016-07-25Bibliographically approved

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