Health Research Program

Care-Seeking & Referral Community

Welcome to the Care-Seeking & Referral for maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) Community of Practice (CoP)! Here you will find a vibrant online discussion community, monthly webinars, opportunities for southtosouth exchange and technical assistance, and an online exchange platform where members will have the opportunity to discuss with leading experts. 

Please explore this page for valuable tools and best practices in implementation research to advance care-seeking and referral practices for mothers, newborns, and children in developing countries.

Making the Case

Women and their families need to know when, how, and where to seek appropriate treatment, a normal delivery, and care for life-threatening conditions. When these life threatening conditions can be identified in advance, referral is routine, but oftentimes an emergency arises for mother or baby requiring urgent care and emergency transport. Functioning referral systems and continuity of care–from household to health facility and if necessary between facilities and back–are critical for improved MNCH outcomes. Ultimately, appropriate care-seeking, functional referrals, and continuity of care contribute to effective coverage, defined as receipt of necessary MNCH preventive and curative services that are timely and of sufficient quality to achieve health impact.

For a long time we have been using the three delays model–deciding to seek care, identifying and reaching care, and receiving adequate and appropriate treatment at the facility1This CoP aims to move beyond this model and think about helping women access care in emergencies and when different referrals take place, both routine and emergency, in a health system that gets the right women and newborns to the right place at the right time.

To get us thinking we are using the model developed by Campbell and colleagues2.


The Care-Seeking and Referral for MNCH Community of Practice (CoP) provides a virtual platform where people can exchange technical knowledge, share resources and experiences, ask and answer questions, and help to connect people who might not ordinarily interact. We host regular webinars on care-seeking and referral and an online exchange platform where you will have the opportunity to discuss with leading experts in the topic.


MaNe: The Kampala Maternal Newborn Health Project (MaNe) will collect evidence and test innovations to achieve better maternal and newborn outcomes for urban poor populations in Kampala.
ACERS: The Acute Care and Emergency Referral (ACERS) Project aims to contribute to the improvement of maternal and newborn health survival by increasing pregnant women’s use of caregivers and improve caregivers’ provision of quality emergency obstetric and newborn care (EmONC) services.


Below we propose some links to articles and resources to help policymakers and program implementers identify strategies and approaches for improving care-seeking and referral practices for MNCH in developing countries.



Quality of care

Emergency Transport