CMNH launches new obstetric care course to save mothers’ lives

News article 14 Sep 2018

Experts from the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health (CMNH) have designed and developed an innovative course to improve the quality of care provided to women undergoing caesarean section and assisted vaginal delivery. For the next two weeks, this unique course will be delivered to two sets of healthcare providers in a hospital in Kwara State, Nigeria.

The five-day training course is aimed at healthcare providers who deliver obstetric surgery, including theatre and maternity staff, anaesthetists, surgeons, medical officers and peri-operative nurses. It aims to increase capacity to improve:

  • Decision-making and leadership of maternity care teams
  • Pre-operative care
  • Caesarean section
  • Assisted vaginal delivery

Following a pilot course in Cambodia in January 2018 funded by GIZ, this is the first time the course will be rolled out in full. It will be delivered by CMNH technical staff, as well as volunteer anaesthetists, who contributed to the course content. It includes two bespoke manuals for facilitators and participants, as well as lectures and short videos designed specifically by the CMNH team.  

The course fulfils a neglected area of care; previous CMNH research on maternal death surveillance and response work in Kenya has shown that too many women die following caesarean sections. The content of this course therefore has a strong focus on improving surgical skills, to reduce the risk of post-caesarean haemorrhage and other complications. Improved surgical skills are also essential to prevent fistulas (an abnormal connection or opening formed between two anatomical areas). Fistula is a devastating condition that affects over one million women in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. CMNH’s Dr Helen Allott has written a blog about the impact it has on millions of women, and how our new training course can help to prevent this treatable condition.

Dr Helen Allott, Senior Technical Officer at CMNH, who developed the course said:
“This course fills a crucial gap in quality of care for the 15% of women who require obstetric interventions for a safe delivery. We hope that through improved decision making, we can save lives. This course is all about ensuring that healthcare providers do the most safe thing, so that the right decisions are being made for the right women at the right time. This course is not just needed in Nigeria – it is needed in many low- and middle-income countries around the world. This course can be adapted and rolled out in many other countries, and we hope to obtain funding over the coming months to do exactly that.”

The new course in Nigeria is funded by Johnson and Johnson, who have supported our work in capacity strengthening in Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care and Quality Improvement across the country since 2015. It complements CMNH’s existing emergency obstetric and early newborn ‘skills and drills’ training, which promotes the use of the partograph as a decision-making tool to prevent prolonged obstructed labour.


Photo Credit: Akintunde Akinleye NURHI, Nigeria, 2012, Courtesy of Photoshare