Determinants of effectiveness and sustainability of a novel community health workers programme in improving maternal and child health in Nigeria


Determinants of effectiveness and sustainability of a novel community health workers programme in improving maternal and child health in Nigeria (REVAMP)


Despite cutting maternal and infant mortality by half between 1990 and 2008, maternal and child health (MCH) remains a priority in Nigeria. Between 2012 and 2015, the Government of Nigeria implemented a Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) to invest the revenue from fuel subsidy reduction into a social protection fund to improve lives of vulnerable populations.

One component focused on improving access to MCH services and outcomes (SURE-P/MCH) through combination of supply and demand-side issuesThe supply-side measures involved recruitment of additional midwives and community health workers (CHWs), infrastructure development and provision of supplies and medicines. The demand-side measures involved mobilisation of Ward Development Committees and provision of conditional cash transfers (CCTs) to pregnant women to facilitate their uptake of ante-natal care, deliver at a health facility, and encourage post-natal care such as vaccinations. 

Aims & Objectives

his research seeks to inform strengthening, scaling up, and sustainability of changes achieved by CHW programmes. We investigated to what extent, and under what conditions, a Nigerian CHW programme promoted equitable access to quality services; improved MCH outcomes and under what conditions these changes can be sustained following withdrawal of programme support. 

The specific objectives are to: 

  1. Understand the context and the process of implementation of the interventionsincluding relationships between health workforce and infrastructure and supplies. 

  1. Identify, assess and compare the intervention outputs and outcomes during and after withdrawal of targeted support to the programme. 

  1. Develop a model of complex relations between the actors, context, implementation processes, outputs and outcomes of the interventions during, and after withdrawal of targeted support to the programme. 

  1. Assess the role of different advocacy and lobbying efforts in entrenching  MCH on the political agenda and strengthening service provision, following the suspension of targeted support to SURE-P/MCH; 

  1. Develop transferable best practices for scalability (expansion within a broadly similar context) and generalizability (expansion to different contexts) of the interventions. 


Realist evaluation provides an overall methodological approach to guide the development, testing and refining of middle-range programme theories and the analysis of the relationships between context, mechanisms and outcomes. This five-year multi-disciplinary and mixed methods studycombines four disciplines of health policy and systems research: health economics, social sciences and statistics.  

Research methods Nigeria LIHS

We use combination of quantitative (surveys, analysis of data from health management information systems) and qualitative (in-depth interviews and focus groups).

Further details of our methodology are available in the REVAMP Study Protocol published in Implementation Science and Methods Handbook. Please also see the methodological paper which how examines how we considered different contexts in developing the Logic model for the SURE-P/MCH.

Project outputs

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What makes a successful maternal and child health (MCH) programme?

Peer-reviewed publications:

Policy briefs:

Policy Briefs REMAP LIHS


Newspaper reports:

Sustaining the gains of the SURE-P programme.


Lessons from this study inform the improvements to similar CHW programmes and health systems strengthening more generally in Nigeria and beyond. The study results should also inform strengthening the individual components of the national health system, for example best practices in staff performance management and further demand-side financing schemes.

Project Partners

The Nuffield Centre team


Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development, University of Leeds

Professor Tolib Mirzoev (Principal Investigator)

Professor Tim Ensor

Dr Joseph Hicks

Dr Bassey Ebenso

Dr Reinhard Huss (until December 2019)

Professor James Newell (until December 2018)

School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds

Dr Ana Manzano

Health Policy Research Group, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (COMUNEC)

Professor Benjamin Uzochukwu

Professor Obinna Onwujekwe

Professor Nkoli Ezumah

Dr Enyi Etiaba