Why is this

There is increasing recognition of the importance of the first 1000 days of life to child growth and development for the prevention of under and overnutrition, both in childhood as well as in later adult life. Sub-optimal feeding, care, and dental hygiene practices within this period increase the risk of nutrition-related diseases across the life course such as dental caries, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease alongside worse intellectual development.


The Nurture Early for Optimal Nutrition (NEON) Programme is a multi-phase project led by Prof. Monica Lakhanpaul and Dr. Logan Manikam with academic colleagues at UCL and a multidisciplinary research team that aims to optimise infant feeding, care, and dental hygiene practices among children <2 years old from South Asian origin in East London using participatory learning and action (PLA) cycles facilitated by a multi-lingual community facilitators. 


The first phase (formative research and intervention development in British Bangladeshis) was funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North Thames (£301,693) in partnership with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.


The current second phase (pilot feasibility randomised controlled trial and intervention development in all South Asians) is funded by the NIHR Academy (£805,854) in partnership with the Tower Hamlets GP Care Group CIC and the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Waltham Forest.


If successful, a cluster randomised controlled trial will follow in East London with subsequent scale-up across the UK.


A detailed 2-page summary is available here.

Click here for NEON Partners and Funders.



The PLA group approach used by the NEON programme has been widely documented as a low-cost, culturally adaptable, and effective method to achieve improvements in maternal and infant survival. It is being reverse innovated to the UK from developing countries for the first time. 

PLA groups have been recommended by the World Health Organisation and have demonstrated:

  • Reduction in maternal and new-born deaths (49% reduction in maternal mortality and 33% reduction in neonatal mortality)

  • The ability to address social determinants of health 

  • Adaptability to different cultural and country contexts (India, Malawi, Bangladesh, Nepal)

The PLA approach is informed by significant evidence on participatory approaches to community development. It involves forming community groups facilitated by multi-lingual local champions who then follow a four-phase meeting cycle supported via community-led facilitation. The four phases are aimed at enabling participants to identify health problems (PLA - phase 1), identify local solutions to these problems (PLA - phase 2), implement these solutions (PLA - phase 3) and evaluate and reflect on the success of the group (PLA - phase 4).



We are supported by a diverse expert team of Investigators that include:

Dr. Michelle Heys

Associate Professor in Child Health Research

Population Policy and Practice Programme, UCL GOS-ICH

Prof. Andrew Hayward

UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Healthcare Director

Dept. of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL IEHC

Dr. Neha Batura

Lecturer in Health Economics and Centre for Global Health Economics Deputy Director

UCL Institute for Global Health

Dr. Clare Llewellyn

Associate Professor in Child Health Research

Population Policy and Practice Programme, UCL GOS-ICH

Dr. Rajalakshmi Lakshman

Consultant in Public Health Medicine

MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine

Shereen Al Laham

Research Associate

UCL and Aceso Global Health Consultants (AGHC) 

Corinne Clarkson

Public Strategist for Maternal and Clinical Health

Waltham Forest Council

Amanda Nutkins

Health Visitor

NELFT NHS Foundation Trust

Delceta Daley

HV Operational Lead

Chingford Health Centre Waltham Forest

Mary Marsh

Head of Universal Services 0-19

Waltham Forest Council

Kelley Webb-Martin

Director of Delivery, Compliance, and Transformation

Children's Health 0-19 and HeadStart Service, Newham Council

Carol Irish

Head of Children's Health 0-19 Service 

Children's Health 0-19 Service, Newham Council

Chanel Edwards

Health Visiting Research and Quality Improvement Lead

Children's Health 0-19 Service, Newham Council

Jenny Gilmour

0-19 Service Development Lead

Tower Hamlets GP Care Group

Dr. Logan Manikam

NIHR Advanced Fellow and Honorary Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Aceso Global Health Consultants Director, and Co-Director of the CHIP Consortium

Dept. of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL IEHC

Prof. Monica Lakhanpaul

Professor of Integrated Community Child Health, and Co-Director of the CHIP Consortium

Population Policy and Practice Programme, UCL GOS-ICH






Seema Bajwa

Newham Community Facilitator (Pakistani/Urdu)

Jasvir Bhachu

Newham Community Facilitator (Indian/Punjabi)

Geromini Pushpakanthan

Newham Community Facilitator (Sri Lankan/Tamil)

Cllr. Lakmini Shah

LBN Councillor and Director of Conversation Cafes 

Newham Council

Sabiha Malek

Newham Community Facilitator (Indian/Gujarati)


Lily Islam

Tower Hamlets Community Facilitator (Bangladeshi/Bengali and Sylheti)


Oliver Lloyd-Houldey

Independent PLA Consultant (Formerly Women and Children First)


Prof. Audrey Prost

Professor of Global Health, Expert in participatory interventions to improve maternal and neonatal in LMICs

Institute for Global Health UCL

Prof. Atul Singhal

Professor of Paediatric Nutrition

Population Policy and Practice, UCL GOS-ICH

Dr. Edward Fottrell

Epidemiologist in Community Health, Intervention Development, and Evaluation

Institute for Global Health, Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

Vaikuntanath Kakarla



Dr. Sonia Ahmed

Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Department of Anthropology, Durham University

Ashlee Teakle

Assistant Public Health Strategist

Newham Council

Dr. Ian Warwick

Associate Professor in Education Practice and Society

Education, Practice, and Society; UCL Institute of Education

Sumaira Tayyab

Public Health Programme Manager, Maternity and Early Years

Tower Hamlets Council

Dr. Zenobia Sheikh

GP and Clinical Quality Improvement Lead 

UCL Partners

Dr. Jennifer Martin

Global Project Director

Women in Global Health Finland

Prof. Mitchel Blair

Professor of Paediatrics and Child Public Health

Imperial College London

Dr. Helen Crawley

Director of First Steps Nutrition Trust, Infant and Young Child Dietitian, Registered Nutritionist

First Steps Nutrition Trust 

Joanna Drazdzewska

Head of Programmes

Women and Children First (UK)

Dr. Alex Nelson

Voluntary Sector Children and Youth Forum Coordinator

Volunteer Sector Tower Hamlets (VSTH)

Joanna Drazdzewska

Head of Programmes

Women and Children First (UK)

Phoebe Kalungi

Community Child Healthy Weight Lead

Tower Hamlets GP Care Group

Amelie Gonguet

Community Child Healthy Weight Advisor

Tower Hamlets GP Care Group

Where NEON

Currently Operates

Sub-optimal feeding, care, and dental hygiene practices have shown to be particularly prevalent in the UK South Asian population. The London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Waltham Forest have one of the largest South Asian communities in the country alongside higher than average rates of child poverty and obesity.



24 NOV 2020

NEON publication and e-poster accepted to the NIHR Academy Members’ Conference (2020)

The recent publication, "Community engagement through the Nurture Early for Optimal Nutrition (NEON) programme to improve infant feeding, care and dental hygiene practices in South Asian infants aged < 2 years in East London" and e-poster produced by the Nurture Early for Optimal Nutrition (NEON) programme team has been accepted to the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Academy Members’ Conference 2020. This publication, written by Dr. Logan Manikam, Shereen Al Laham, Dr. Michelle Heys, Dr. Clare Llewellyn, Dr. Neha Batura, Prof. Andrew Hayward, Dr. Rajalakshmi Lakshman, Jenny Gilmour, Kelley Webb-Martin, Carol Irish, Chanel Edwards, Corinne Clarkson, Mary Marsh, Delceta Daley, Amanda Nutkins, Prof. Monica Lakhanpaul, highlights how community engagement can help to develop low-cost interventions to address key public health issues.

11 SEP 2020

NEON programme presents Publication at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Online Conference (2020)

The first 1000 days of a child’s life are key to child development. Sub-optimal nutrition before the age of 5 can increase health risks such as obesity and dental problems later in life. The Nurture Early for Optimal Nutrition NEON programme is tackling this and will be presenting at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Online Conference 2020 with the poster “Nurture Early for Optimal Nutrition (NEON) Programme: Qualitative study of drivers of infant feeding practices in a British-Bangladeshi population” by Prof. Monica Lakhanpaul, Dr. Lorna Benton, Oliver Lloyd-Houldey, Dr. Logan Manikam, Diana Margot Rosenthal, Shereen Al Laham, Dr. Michelle Heys. See it here

©2021 Aceso GHC


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