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UK midwives aim to help improve childbirth in Africa

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Manchester midwives are to lead a major research project to improve midwifery services for women and babies in six East African countries.

A team from the University of Manchester will work closely with midwives in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Tanzania to identify ways to improve maternal and child health.

The project will take two years to complete and is being funded with £626,780 from the Department for International Development through its Health Partnership Scheme.

It will be known as The Lugina Africa Midwives Research Network, in memory of midwife Professor Helen Lugina who was one of the forerunners in developing midwifery services in East Africa.

Professor Dame Tina Lavender, from the university’s school of nursing, midwifery and social work, will lead the project. It has four components:

  • supporting senior midwifery partners to develop research leadership skills
  • working with 120 midwives to identify the main areas of maternal health in each country where research to aid improvements is needed
  • providing workshops for 120 midwives to improve evidence-based practice skills
  • developing a buddy system with three midwives in each country to develop research projects in areas identified locally as key, for example, obstructed labour or postpartum haemorrhage

Professor Lavender said: “This project is bringing together some of the most dedicated midwives in sub-Saharan Africa to work collaboratively to improve care for women and babies.

“The goal is to develop a thriving, collaborative and sustainable research network of midwives with the capacity and skills to strengthen maternity services and improve care for women and babies.”

Manchester University will collaborate with six Africa based partners including the University of Malawi, University of Nairobi, Muhimbili University Tanzania, University of Zambia, University of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Health in Uganda.

International development secretary Justine Greening said: “British nurses, midwives and medical teams are among the best in the world.

“The Health Partnership Scheme allows us to harness their expertise to help give developing countries the skills needed to improve the health of some of the world’s poorest people.”

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