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Delays to seek medical help can contribute to maternal deaths particularly in community settings at home or on the road to a health facility. Community engagement (CE) can improve care-seeking behaviours and complements community-based interventions strengthening maternal health. The purpose of this paper is to describe the process undertaken to develop and implement a large-scale community engagement strategy in rural southern Mozambique. The CE strategy was developed within the context of the “Community-Level Interventions for Pre-eclampsia” (NCT01911494) conducted between 2015–2017 in southern Mozambique. Key CE messages included pregnancy complications and their warning signs, including pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, as well as emergency readiness, birth preparedness, decision-making mechanisms, transport options and information about the trial. CE meeting logs were used to record quantitative and qualitative information on demographic data and feedback. Quantitative data was analyzed using RStudio (RStudio Inc, Boston, United States) and community feedback was qualitatively analyzed on NVivo12 (QSR International, Melbourne, Australia). CE activities reached 19,169 participants during 4,239 meetings. CE activities were reported to be well received by community members though there was a relatively lower participation of men (3565 /18.6%). The use of recognized local leaders and personnel, such as community leaders, nurses and community health workers, allowed for greater acceptance of CE activities and maximized coverage of health messages in the community setting. Our CE strategy was effective in integrating maternal health promoting activities in routine care of community health workers and nurses in the area. Understanding district differences, engaging husbands, partners, mothers-in-law and community-level decision-makers to build local support for maternal health and flexibility to tailor messages to local needs were important in developing sustainable forms of CE. Better strategies are needed to effectively engage men in maternal health promotion who were less available due to working outside of the home or neighbourhoods.

Original publication




Journal article


PLOS Global Public Health

Publication Date