Informed decisions for actions in maternal and newborn health

Jargon buster

Jargon buster

It is important to be precise about what certain terms mean, as words mean different things depending on the context they are being used in. This section will define some of the words IDEAS uses.

Actionable measurement

There are 3 elements to actionable measurement:

  1. The collection, analysis and synthesis of data and experience;
  2. Time to reflect and develop insights;
  3. A willingness and ability to change and adapt.

These elements form the basis of actionable measurement that will lead to informed decisions and actions; e.g. IDEAS is using a set of guidelines and learning questions that ensure we will collect the most relevant data to inform future maternal and newborn health programme decisions.


An investigation into whether, why and how results are or are not achieved. e.g. Quantitative evaluation: IDEAS will estimate the extent to which breastfeeding within an hour of birth has increased as a result of our project partner’s innovations, through collecting data via household surveys. Qualitative evaluation: IDEAS will conduct interviews with key stakeholders to find out why maternal and newborn innovations were taken up in neighbouring districts, or why not.

Frontline health workers

Frontline workers include facility-based staff, shopkeepers who families see regularly, and trained community members who visit families where healthcare facilities are scarce. All give health advice and basic health services. They are often the first point of contact with the health system for rural families in low-income settings. They are relatively inexpensive to train and support, and are capable of providing many life-saving interventions. (

Health Development Army

The Army aims to increase awareness and change health-seeking behaviour at the kebele (village) level through networks of female volunteers from 1-5 “model families”, i.e. families who are making the right choices to ensure a healthy family like getting antenatal maternal health, and making sure their children get the proper series of immunizations. Each network has a leader chosen by the community and is organised into development groups. These groups meet and share what they have learned about proper health and development.

Health Extension Programme

A community-based health service delivery programme designed to reach rural communities with the philosophy that in if the right knowledge and skill is transferred to households, they can enhance and maintain their own health.  The Health Extension Programme is implemented sizeable cadre of salaried Health Extension Workers, who are trained to implement healthcare activities at the kebele (village) level. The programme is the main avenue for bringing key maternal, neonatal and child health interventions to the community.

Implementation project

One of several projects funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation implementing innovations to improve the interactions between frontline health workers and families, and enhance the existing health system.


A community-based approach to enhancing health, which is new to the context, e.g. in Uttar Pradesh, India, frontline health workers are provided with mobile phones that they can take on family visits. The phones can be used to call for health assistance or show illustrations on safe birth practices. This is an innovation. It should be possible to scale up, as a stand-alone innovation or in conjunction with others. The innovation might be new - developed by the project - or may have been used elsewhere and implemented for the first time in the project area.


A life-saving procedure or behaviour that has a proven direct biological benefit for the mother or newborn, e.g. cutting the umbilical cord with a sterilised blade to prevent the baby becoming infected.


Learning from measurement and evaluation results and changing strategies accordingly. Learning includes sharing results with others so they can also use them to inform decisions and/or actions; e.g. IDEAS aims to share results with local, national and global policy makers to inform decisions and actions.

Primary Health Care Unit

Lowest level of essential health care provided through a network comprising 1 health centre and 5 health posts, service a total of 25,000 rural people.


An increase in the coverage of health innovations, that have been tested in pilot and experimental projects, in order to benefit more people. It includes increasing the reach of a health programme so it benefits more people over a larger geographical area, increasing programme inputs in the form of financial, human or capital resources, and broadening the scope or range of innovations within a health programme.