Pregnancy & Infancy

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Enable is a community-based home visiting programme that connects nearly 1500 pregnant women and their infants to health education, social support, and onwards referrals through a locally recruited “Mentor Mother” workforce. A process evaluation aims to identify how implementation and contextual factors influence programme outcomes. The project consists of two phases, with Phase 1 taking place from 2016 – 2019. Phase 2, set to commence in 2020, has been delayed by the events of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In Phase 1, key project activities included monitoring & evaluation support, interviews with Mentor Mothers, clients, and supervisors, and home visit audio recordings, to add context to Enable’s program progress. The Institute team also engaged with 17 Mentor Mothers to provide continuous opportunities to participate in training sessions related to data quality, team dynamics, and self-care.


Eastern Cape,

South Africa

Mentor Mothers, supervisors, mother-infant pairs


Zithulele Births Follow Up Study (ZiBFUS)

The Zithulele Births Follow Up Study (ZIBFUS) is a cohort study of 470 mothers and their infants from birth through the first years of life. To date, ZiBFUS has built a comprehensive picture of healthcare, feeding practices, HIV, social support, mental health, food security and infant disease and mortality in this rural South African community.


The team are currently planning a new follow-up wave to be administered in 2021, when the children turn 8 years old. The Zithulele research team participated in the Ukwanda 9th Annual Rural Health Research Day in May 2019.

Zithulele, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Mother-infant pairs

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Eastern Cape Supervision Study (ECSS)

The Eastern Cape Supervision Study is a cluster randomised controlled trial, evaluating the impact of increased supervision and support for government community health workers on maternal and child health outcomes. In total, 873 participating women and their children were recruited during pregnancy and up to two years post-birth.

The 3, 6, 15 and 24 month assessments of mothers and infants took place between 2019 and 2020. During the COVID- 19 lockdowns, the 24 month assessments were paused and later resumed through telephonic interviews with participants. Data collection is due to be completed at the end of April 2021.

Zithulele, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Mother-child pairs


Evidence for Better Lives Study (EBLS) 

The Evidence for Better Lives Study (EBLS) is an epidemiological study of exposure to violence and adversity during pregnancy in eight low- and middle-income countries (Jamaica, Ghana, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam), led by Cambridge University (United Kingdom). A total of 1200 pregnant women were assessed during the last trimester of pregnancy and 2-6 months after birth to gather information about experiences of violence, nutrition and food security, and child and maternal wellbeing.

Data collection for the South African cohort took place in Worcester, with 150 women assessed during pregnancy and an 85% follow-up rate for the post-birth assessment. A policy impact workshop with local government staff and policy makers, health care professionals and interested researchers took place at the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School in Worcester to present the study findings and discuss implications for practice. 

Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa

Mother-infant pairs