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Cambridge Reproduction

Traditional midwives in Liberia receive clean delivery kits after training

Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 September 2020
1pm - 5pm each day

Please note: this workshop was posponed from March 2020, and took place online over two afternoons. Each day, the main workshop sessions was followed by a Zoom breakout session to discuss ideas for future research and development. The programme is available here. Recordings from the sessions are available here.

This workshop will bring together researchers and graduate students with an interest in any aspect of maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. There will be presentations from external researchers and practitioners on aspects of history, policy and biomedical research, in order to catalyse discussion and encourage participants to build relationships with colleagues outside their own immediate fields.

Following this initial ‘scoping’ workshop, we aim to organise a series of more focused events that will bring together researchers within our SRI and outside the University to examine this topic in greater depth. We will explore how new research in a variety of fields such as genetics, immunology, obstetric epidemiology, and social and biological anthropology might lead to new ideas and a greater understanding of the tragedy of maternal mortality in the SSA region.

Although we welcome external registrations, priority will be given to attendees from the University of Cambridge if the event is over-subscribed. Early career researchers are particularly encouraged to attend.


The external speakers are:

  • Estelle Monique Sidze, Research Scientist, African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Oliver Norah Nabacwa, Midwife, Mulago Specialised Women & Neonatal Hospital, Kampala, Uganda
  • Shane Doyle, Professor of African History, University of Leeds, UK
  • Anne Løkke, Professor of Danish History, Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Anna Kristiane Mortensen, Research Assistant at Link-Lives, Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


To attend the workshop, please register on Eventbrite:


In 2019, the SRI adopted ‘Maternal Mortality’ as an interdisciplinary research theme. An important strand of this theme will be a series of events devoted to various aspects of maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, from history and culture to policy, and from obstetrics to epidemiology. In Sub-Saharan Africa, although maternal mortality rate (MMR) has declined from 870 to 533 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births between 2000 and 2017, this rate is still one of the largest in the world and regional differences are striking (source: WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and UNPD (MMEIG) from September 2019). In stark contrast, average MMR in Europe and North America is 15. Why do maternal mortality rates in much of the Africa region remain so stubbornly high despite numerous campaigns and interventions? And what is the role of regional and urban/rural disparities here? To address these questions, our meetings will bring together new angles from medical, social, economic and historical approaches to the subject.

Image: Traditional midwives in Liberia receive clean delivery kits after training. Photo: C. Bailey, USAID.