2017-2020 NIHR Stillbirth Project




The NIHR Global Health Research Group on Stillbirth Prevention and Management in Sub-Saharan Africa at the University of Manchester is a three-year programme funded by the National Institute of Health Research.


There are 2.6 million stillbirths each year, 98% of which occur in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) (Lawn et al., 2016). Stillbirth is a tragedy for women and families, who suffer long lasting grief for their baby and are at high risk of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder; most have little support and care(Heazell et al.,Lancet, 2016). In low income countries, including Sub-Saharan Africa, over half of stillbirths happen during labour (WHO, 2017, Yakoob et al., 2010).

Many stillbirths are preventable (Bhutta et al., 2014) with good quality maternity care, e.g. identification, monitoring and managing a woman  whose baby is failing to grow during pregnancy, can result in a positive outcome. Unfortunately, progress in preventing stillbirth has been far too slow to reach international targets (of less than 12 per 1,000 births by 2030) and many women still do not receive respectful care after their baby dies. A major problem is the lack of understanding of causes, how to change practice and provide better care in the countries most affected.

In recent years the University of Manchester (UoM), through THET managed Department for International Development (DFID) funds has fostered the activity of the Lugina African Midwives Research Network (LAMRN) to train midwives in research methodologies in order to increase the application of evidence-based practice in midwifery, and improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes(LAMRN, 2015).

This collaboration has led to the creation of the Global Health Research Group on Stillbirth Prevention and Management in Sub-Saharan Africa at the University of Manchester. This three years programme (2017-2020) funded by the National Institute of Health Research (UK), is implemented by the UoM in partnership with LAMRN.

This programme aims to promote knowledge sharing and capacity building in the area of stillbirth prevention and management in low resource setting.

Aims and objectives

The NIHR Stillbirth Group aim is to reduce the number of stillbirths in Sub-Saharan Africa by undertaking high quality research.

The group will tackle three areas of care:

  1. Prevention of stillbirth through improved identification of women with high risk pregnancies.
  2. Better childbirth care by examining factors which influence how women seek and access care, the quality of the care received and specific causes of stillbirth in local healthcare facilities, using new effective tools.
  3. Ensuring humane and respectful care for bereaved parents through understanding the experiences of women, partners and health workers after stillbirth.

Through this work the research group will gain an understanding of the issues in improving stillbirth prevention, childbirth and bereavement care in low income settings; develop culturally relevant studies for further investigation in this unexplored area and establish itself in the Global arena as a catalyst for change.

By undertaking these activities, the team aims to develop research capacity amongst health professionals in LMICs and build capacity amongst UK group members in global health research.


For more information visit our website NIHR Stillbirth prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa


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