Maternal and Child Wellbeing

Maternal and Child Wellbeing

The Center has documented shockingly high levels of childhood malnutrition among poor urban populations, largely driven by poor feeding practices in the first year of life. We have also generated evidence on how to improve feeding
practices for infants, specifically by promoting breastfeeding at household, community and workplace levels, as well as in health facilities. We must go deeper, however, to improve understanding of the contextual and relevant
influences on mothers regarding child nutrition, especially in the first 1,000 days of life, and how to promote and sustain good breastfeeding practices.

The Center has also initiated research to develop and test models of service delivery for maternal, newborn and child health within urban slum populations. These models have not yet been tested at scale and their utility in other marginalized communities is unknown. The overarching goal of this Unit is to understand the social and physical determinants of maternal health and child survival and potential to thrive, in order to develop effective intervention strategies for their promotion as part of the global push for improved maternal and child health outcomes. Three programmatic areas will define this agenda:

The signature issue for this Unit will be breastfeeding optimization. Situated within a broader Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition research agenda, this program aims to understand multiple influences of, and strategies to optimize, early nutrition, including but not limited to the magnitude of visible and hidden maternal and child malnutrition, and the impacts of preconception nutrition and nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life on long-term health and human capital trajectories. The program will continue its work on developing and assessing interventions to optimize nutrition, specifically breastfeeding. At the macro level, the program will aim to characterize the nutrition transition in the African context and its influence on maternal and child nutrition and health.

The second program of work will be Early Childhood Development (ECD), to understand and promote contextual strategies to optimize early childhood development and understand the factors, interactions and pathways that
shape child health, development and early learning.

The Unit will also contribute to broader Maternal, Newborn and Child Health issues by monitoring MNCH health outcomes and influences in different contexts, including obstacles to access for MNCH services for vulnerable populations.

Featured Project

Kenya Baby-Friendly Workplace Intervention, Evaluation, and Implementation Research

Program: Maternal and Child Wellbeing

Interventions that promote breastfeeding are critical for optimal growth, development and survival of children, the wellbeing and productivity of their mothers and families. Work environments can either support or inhibit successful breastfeeding.

Evidence on effective strategies to improve breastfeeding for women working in agriculture, the sector which employs the most women not only in Kenya, but all of Africa, is scant.

APHRC seeks to better understand the influence of workplaces and devise ways of improving workplace support for breastfeeding and child care and its impact on the wellbeing of employees, their economic productivity, and the optimal growth and development of their children. In partnership with the Ministry of Health, Kenya Private Sector Alliance, a commercial agricultural farm, and UNICEF, APHRC is assessing a model of workplace support for breastfeeding.

The Kenya Baby-Friendly Workplace Intervention, Evaluation, and Implementation Research study aims to inform the design and implementation of a potentially scalable model of workplace support for breastfeeding in an agricultural setting in Kenya, investigate the model’s potential operational feasibility and effectiveness, and determine its cost benefit analysis.


  • Start Date: March 2016
  • End Date: September 2018


  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Through UNICEF)


  • UNICEF, Kenya Country Office
  • UNICEF, Headquarters
  • Government of Kenya, Ministry of Health
  • Kenya Private Sector Alliance
  • Loughborough University, UK
  • University of Warwick, UK
  • McGill University, Canada

Project Funders

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  • unicef

    UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. ...

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  • Kenya Private Sector Alliance ...


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