The Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research is a partnership committed to improving maternal and infant health outcomes and building health research capacity in resource-poor settings by testing cost-effective, sustainable interventions. One of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by the year 2015 among children under 5 years old. Given that 38% of child deaths under age 5 years occur in the first 4 weeks of life, part of the focus has to be on preventing neonatal deaths. The Global Network supports and conducts clinical trials in resource-limited countries by pairing foreign and U.S. investigators, with the goal of evaluating low-cost, sustainable interventions to improve maternal and child health and simultaneously building local research capacity and infrastructure. These activities are designed to facilitate independent continuation of local research activities that will ultimately lead to improved health care systems and personal health.
The Global Network was initiated in 2001 as a public-private partnership between the NICHD and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The NICHD provides scientific oversight for the Global Network and all of its activities.
The Global Network currently includes a Data Coordinating Center (DCC) and seven multidisciplinary research units around the world, each comprising a partnership between a research institution in a developing nation and one in the United States. The Global Network, which was re-competed in 2013, currently comprises dyads of investigators in the United States paired with senior foreign investigators in India, Pakistan, Guatemala, Zambia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Initially, the Global Network included 10 sites and a DCC, and it conducted 10 large, individual studies of interventions for important health problems in pregnancy and birth. Today, the Global Network focuses on community-based common protocols, conducted at three or more sites, that address major maternal and newborn health challenges with the goals of evaluating low-cost, sustainable interventions to improve maternal and child health (MCH), evaluating trends in MCH mortality over time, and simultaneously building local research capacity and infrastructure. This unique position gives the NICHD the ability to identify gaps between science and practice and disseminate the research findings to inform local and national health policy. Each study examines either a novel evidence-based treatment or an innovative use of a proven treatment to improve the health, well-being, and survival of pregnant women and infants. All studies conform to U.S. and international ethical and safety guidelines.
During the Global Network's tenure, several NIH Institutes and Centers, including the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the Fogarty International Center, and the National Cancer Institute, in addition to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have supported projects or parts of projects conducted by the Network.
The Global Network builds partnerships with national, international, and nonprofit organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the United States Agency for International Development, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Through these partnerships, the Global Network provides evidence that can be used for program development and advocacy, informs decisions about health policy, assists in scaling up effective interventions, and builds infrastructure.
The Global Network's DCC, RTI International (which is based in North Carolina), provides protocol and data management, information technology, and logistical and statistical support to Global Network projects.
Current trials include: