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Thanks to the Government of Odisha's commitment and support from the UK, mums-to-be and new mums can now get advice and support from day one in every village. Support now starts well before a baby's due date, and continues until their first birthday. Community health worker, Rebati, gives babies like Adilya, polio and other life saving vaccinations for at least the first year of their lives. Britain is working with the Government of Odisha, one of India's poorest states, and UNICEF to save the lives of thousands of mums and babies., Babies born in the poorer states of India – a country where more people live in poverty than the whole of Africa – now have a better chance of surviving than ever before. Thanks to the Government of Odisha's commitment and support from the UK, mums-to-be and new mums can get advice and support from day one in every village. Vital ante and post-natal care that helps mums bring their babies into the world safe and well. See how community health workers, nurses, soap opera stars and granny self help groups are together helping save the lives of thousands of babies in our gallery. UPDATE, June 2012: In 2011-12, 150,000 children like Baby Sethy have been delivered safely in India with the help of skilled birth attendants thanks to support from Britain. And across the world's poorest countries, UK aid has made sure half a million mums had the help of skilled doctors and nurses to have their babies in the last two years. ------------------------------ The Government of Odisha is working with the UK Government to improve health services, support community health workers and increase take up from families in every village - helping to save the lives of thousands of mums and babies. Britain is supporting the governments of three of India's poorer states (Odisha, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh) and UNICEF to bring healthcare to everyone, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged. All pictures © Pippa Ranger / Department for International Development For more information, visit

In a new paper published with the World Health Organization, JP Onnela, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and his colleagues took a close look at Malegaon, India to examine patterns that emerge in social networks and communities that refuse polio vaccines. They found that households with strong social networks are more likely to be hesitant about vaccines that could prevent the disease.

“The most surprising aspect of the study was the finding regarding the extent to which vaccine-refusing households are surrounded by either vaccine-reluctant or vaccine-refusing households,” Onnela says. “In short, vaccine-refusing households had 189% more social ties to other vaccine-refusing households than vaccine-accepting households did. This is relatively large effect. We concluded in the paper that the investigated social networks contain clusters or ‘pockets’ of vaccine-refusing households.”

What does this mean for polio prevention in South Asia? Onnela believes the findings can help improve communication strategies to improve vaccine acceptance and community perceptions of immunization programs for polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases. “Taking into account people’s social network position can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of public health messaging and interventions,” he says.

The co-authors of the paper include Bruce Landon, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Anna-Lea Kahn, World Health Organization, Danish Ahmed, National Polio Surveillance Project, WHO, India, Harish Verma, World Health Organization, A. James O’Malley, Department of Biomedical Data Science, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Sunil Bahl, National Polio Surveillance Project, WHO, India,  Roland W. Sutter, World Health Organization, and Nicholas A. Christakis, Yale Institute for Network Science.


Click here to read the paper.