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The Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research is at the Forefront of the Fight Against Maternal and Infant Mortality in Developing Countries

Among the Millennium Development Goals, those that aim to reach significant reductions in maternal and child mortality have been proving the hardest to achieve. There are an estimated 10 million women worldwide who experience severe pregnancy-related complications each year, of whom about 358,000 died in 2008. Newborn mortality remains high, with 3.1 million deaths estimated in 2010, accounting for 40% of deaths in children and creating a major obstacle to the achievement of MDG4.  Added to these tragic numbers of deaths, approximately 2.6 million stillbirths happened in 2009, of which about one third occurred during labor and delivery. The vast majority of these deaths, about 98% occurred in low- and middle-income countries, about 82% of them in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the quality of data on maternal and neonatal mortality and stillbirths is the poorest.

Adrien and Linda Wright who attended her last GN meeting as GN director
Adrien and Linda Wright who attended her last GN meeting as GN director

The Global Network (GN) for Women’s and Children’s Health Research is an organization devoted to the cause of increasing maternal and infant health throughout the world in general, particularly in developing countries. Its objective is to improve maternal and infant health outcomes and to strengthen health research capacity in low-resource settings by developing, testing, and implementing cost-effective, sustainable health programs and interventions.

Currently, the GN includes a Data Coordinating Center (DCC), which is the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), and seven multidisciplinary research units around the world, each comprising a partnership between a research institution in a developing nation and one in the United States.


The current GN international sites are:

  • Site 02: The Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Site 03: Zambia
  • Site 06: Guatemala
  • Site 08: India-Belgaum
  • Site 09: Pakistan
  • Site 11: India-Nagpur
  • Site 12: Kenya

Among GN’s current ongoing research studies, there are:

  • Antenatal Corticosteroids Trial in Preterm Births to Increase Neonatal Survival in Developing Countries. This parallel cluster randomized controlled trial aims the reduction of neonatal mortality by improving the identification of women at risk of preterm delivery and increasing the use of antenatal corticosteroids.
  • Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR). The objective of the MNHR project is to develop a vital registry system that will allow the Global Network not only to document health outcomes for mothers and newborns but also, and most importantly, to design research studies in order to address the major causes of poor health outcomes.
  • Women First: Preconception Maternal Nutrition. This individually randomized controlled trial will test the hypothesis that for women in poor communities a comprehensive maternal nutrition intervention commencing at least 3 months prior to conception and continuing throughout pregnancy will be associated with a significantly greater newborn length than for offspring whose mothers start to receive the same intervention at 12 weeks gestation or who do not receive the intervention at all.
  • Ultrasound use to improve pregnancy outcomes in low income country settings.  This study explores whether obstetric ultrasound screening in poor-resource settings can have an impact on maternal and infant mortality.
GN Steering Committee Meeting in Washington, DC, June 2013
GN Steering Committee Meeting in Washington, DC, June 2013

The last GN Steering Committee Meeting took place in June 23-26, 2013 at Loews Madison Hotel, Washington, DC. Research from GN sites as well as experts from Bill and Melinda Gates, USAID and various renowned institutions attended the meeting.

This summer Adrien is is performing analyses to better understand the cause of death among pregnant women in low-resource settings worldwide.  He works under the GN Center Principal Investigator, assisting her and the 2 protocol managers in reviewing the research protocols, the case report forms and the implementation strategies.

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