Background: The United Nations Millennium Development Goals look to substantial improvements in child and maternal survival. Morbidity and mortality during pregnancy, delivery and the postnatal period are prime obstacles to achieving these goals. Given the increasing importance of urban health to global prospects, Mumbai's City Initiative for Newborn Health aims to improve maternal and neonatal health in vulnerable urban slum communities, through a combination of health service quality improvement and community participation. This protocol describes a trial of community intervention aimed at improving prevention, care seeking and outcomes. Objective: To test an intervention that supports local women as facilitators in mobilising communities for better health care. Community women's groups will build an understanding of their potential to improve maternal and infant health, and develop and implement strategies to do so. Design: Cluster-randomized controlled trial. Methods: The intervention will employ local community-based female facilitators to convene groups and help them to explore maternal and neonatal health issues. Groups will meet fortnightly through a seven-phase process of sharing experiences, discussion of the issues raised, discovery of potential community strengths, building of a vision for action, design and implementation of community strategies, and evaluation. The unit of allocation will be an urban slum cluster of 1000–1500 households. 48 clusters have been randomly selected after stratification by ward. 24 clusters have been randomly allocated to receive the community intervention. 24 clusters will act as control groups, but will benefit from health service quality improvement. Indicators of effect will be measured through a surveillance system implemented by the project. Key distal outcome indicators will be neonatal mortality and maternal and neonatal morbidity. Key proximate outcome indicators will be home care practices, uptake of antenatal, delivery and postnatal care, and care for maternal and neonatal illness. Data will be collected through a vital registration system for births and deaths in the 48 study clusters. Structured interviews with families will be conducted at about 6 weeks after index deliveries. We will also collect both quantitative and qualitative data to support a process evaluation. [Trial registration: Current controlled trials ISRCTN96256793].
Trials (2008) 9 (7) [doi:10.1186/1745-6215-9-7].