Our achievements in maternal and neonatal health research

Our work has influenced maternal and neonatal health care delivery in Bangladesh and globally.

We have a long history of developing maternal and child health interventions, and ensuring they are adopted into policy and practice in Bangladesh and globally. Several of our innovations have been implemented widely across Bangladesh. Evidence from our studies has influenced policy-making and our implementation research has shaped how healthcare is delivered.

We actively participate in the development of national policy. We also seek opportunities to apply the learning gained in Bangladesh in other resource-poor settings.

Examples of our achievements include:

Community health worker-based family planning programme

  • In the late 1970s, icddr,b pioneered an innovative approach to family planning based on large numbers of female community health workers
  • The initiative had a dramatic impact on use of contraception and fertility rates, and generated lasting health and economic benefits
  • It led to major changes in the Government’s approach to family planning and has been highly influential internationally

Chlorhexidine to prevent umbilical cord infections and management of neonatal sepsis

  • Findings from icddr,b’s Projahnmo trial and the follow-on chlorhexidine trial were influential in shifting the global focus to newborn health and also convinced national policy-makers in Bangladesh to develop policies and strategies to address newborn health issues.
  • Our findings on use of the antiseptic chlorhexidine to prevent umbilical cord infections and management of neonatal sepsis at community level have influenced national and global policy-making.
  • icddr,b clinical trials showed that treatment of the umbilical cord with chlorhexidine soon after birth reduced the risk of infection and significantly cut mortality.
  • These findings informed the WHO’s recommendations on chlorhexidine use, as well as the Government of Bangladesh’s decision to introduce chlorhexidine nationally.

Arifeen SE et al. The effect of cord cleansing with chlorhexidine on neonatal mortality in rural Bangladesh: a community-based, cluster-randomised trial. Lancet. 2012;379(9820):1022–8.

Menstrual regulation with medication

  • A high-level working group was formed to advise the Government on programme- and policy-related actions needed to address the critical concerns related to unintended pregnancies and safe menstrual regulation services in Bangladesh.

Misopostrol for prevention of PPH

  • In an operations research project mispostrol was distributed among 53,897 pregnant women through clean delivery kit (CDK).
  • Misoprostol distribution in CDKs protected 60% of births in the project from post partum hemorrhage (PPH) that would not have otherwise been protected. This study contributed the inclusion of Misopostrol in the national maternal health strategy for prevention of PPH.

Frequently asked questions by adolescents

  • icddr,b researchers consulted a wide range of adolescents from varying backgrounds, in order to develop a databank of reproductive health ‘frequently asked questions’.
  • Study findings have been used to update a reproductive health information booklet series – Nijeke Jano – which has been approved by a Technical Committee of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, for use by the Government of Bangladesh and other adolescent-targeted programmes.

National surveys and strategies

  • icddr,b researchers wereinvolved in development of the National Neonatal Health Strategy and Guidelines for Bangladesh in 2009.
  • icddr,b researchers havealso contributed toBangladesh Demographic and Health Surveys and Bangladesh Maternal Mortality Surveys.