Highlights of 2016


We have just completed the second year of our 3 year Big Lottery Funded programme in Malawi.  We are working in 80 villages to provide maternal and newborn health information through the establishment of women’s groups so people are aware of the risks of pregnancy and childbirth and can seek medical assistance early.

Maternal and newborn health promotion
In the first 2 years of the project we have established 50 women’s groups in 50 villages with another 30 scheduled in the coming year.  A programme of 20 sessions is run in each village providing information on maternal and newborn healthcare, nutrition, hygiene, family planning, women’s equality and general healthcare.  A total of 2,417 people have been attending these meetings to learn about the risks to look for during pregnancy and when to seek help.  86% of women attending women’s groups are now aware of the 3 danger signs to look for during pregnancy.  95.2% reported a positive experience and would recommend local healthcare to a friend or relative in the future.

Income generation and women’s empowerment
We’ve provided seed funding and training to 937 people initially this year to enable them to set up their own small businesses.  The women use this seed funding (approximately £20), training and support to generate their own income through trading, setting up small shops in the village, investing in bicycle taxis and other small-scale ventures.  They re-pay the interest-free seed funding over a period of 4 months.  The money returned each month is then given to the next person on the list to receive seed funding, so the money is always in constant use.  The first batch of seed funding for 375 women was all repaid in full within 4 months and has already been reinvested; so far it has benefitted 1,006 women.
By enabling women to earn their own money and to become financially independent we are empowering them to become the decision makers about their own healthcare choices.  The income generation programme is run alongside the health promotion sessions in the villages, so there is a direct link between increased empowerment, income and knowledge around maternal and newborn healthcare. This in turn has led to an increase in the number of women giving birth at the health centres.

Training skilled staff
We have trained 67 Health Surveillance Assistants (who are employed by the Government to provide healthcare in rural areas) to also provide maternal and newborn health information when in the villages.
We have also trained 24 skilled birth attendants, which means that once women have decided to give birth at a health facility there are fully trained staff available to assist them.  Deliveries with a skilled birth attendant present at a health centre have increased from 63% at the beginning of the project to 83.5% half way through the programme, so the staff training along with the health promotion and income generation has already made a huge impact on the number of safe deliveries.

Student midwives
Our two student midwives in Malawi are doing exceptionally well in their course. Robert will complete his course in Spring 2017 and we are currently fundraising to employ him as a midwife in one of the rural health centres in Zomba.  This year our annual Muffins for Midwives campaign raised enough to fully fund 2 additional student midwives in Malawi, so they will start their course in the new year.

Shipping container
In the summer we were lucky enough to be donated a 40 foot shipping container to Malawi for free by Maersk (a major international shipping company).  We launched an urgent appeal for donations to fill the container and received £25,000 worth of donated items in 4 weeks!  The donations included blood pressure monitors, medical equipment, uniforms, solar powered torches and floodlights (for use during the regular power cuts), medical textbooks, furniture, computers, knitted baby vests and blankets and lots more.  We were overwhelmed with the generosity of our supporters and the team in Malawi were amazed when the container finally arrived!

Malawi Bike Ride
We held our first ever Malawi bike ride this autumn which saw 14 cyclists cycle across southern Malawi and spend some time visiting the villages and health centres where we are working.  The incredible cyclists have already raised over £20,000 which will make a huge difference to the number of women we support.



The building of our Maternity Centre in Kiryabutuzi was finally completed in the summer.  We have recruited 2 midwives who have already started to set up and run health promotion sessions in the 14 surrounding villages.  They will provide antenatal sessions for pregnant women in the rural and remote villages and advise them where to deliver their baby.

Within a week of the health centre being open we have already had 2 deliveries and our midwives accompanied 2 mothers to Hoima where they required emergency caesareans.  All 4 mothers and babies are doing well and these early experiences demonstrate how much a rural maternity centre is needed.  Over the next year we hope to increase the number of midwives at the health centre and will be providing a programme of 24 health promotion sessions in each of the 14 villages along with ante-natal care for pregnant women and the income generation programme which has proved to be so successful in Malawi.

Here is baby Nelson Junior, born weighing 3.4kg, with his proud parents Alice and Nelson with our midwife Aziza.  Alice gave birth to her first baby at home due to the long distance to the nearest health centre.  After attending a health promotion session in her village, run by the Village Health Volunteer we have trained, decided to come to the maternity centre to give birth this time.

It costs just £1,700 a year to employ a Junior Midwife in Uganda so your kind regular support really does make a huge difference.  We have very ambitious plans to expand our programmes in 2017 and help more mothers to give birth safely.



We are delighted to announce that Lensa, our first ever student midwife, has graduated this summer, finishing 3rd in her cohort.  Lensa is keen to work in a rural health centre so as soon as a vacancy comes up she will move there.  The three waiting houses we built in Ethiopia have now been handed over to the local Government to run and are being well used by pregnant women waiting to give birth in the health centre next-door.

We really value your continued support for our ambitious plans in 2017, thank you.

RCOG World Congress 2016

Mary RCOG - June 2016Three of our Trustees, Dr Adrian Brown (Chair), Prof Andy Shennan and Mary Russell, attended the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) World Congress in Birmingham in June to present a poster on the work of Maternity Worldwide in Ethiopia and the fingings from Phase 1 of the CRADLE 3 research project.

The first day of the conference had a focus on global health.  It was a great opportunity to network and to hear of all the exciting initiatives that are being undertaken to improve maternal health throughout the world.

RCOG 2016Mary and Adrian presented the poster they and Katherine Lattey, a MW volunteer, wrote: entitled ‘Ten years in Ethiopia: what difference did the Millennium Development Goals really make?‘.  The poster focussed on the detailed maternal health needs assessments which was carried out in Gimbie, Ethiopia in 2004 and again in 2014 to determine what impact initiatives from our integrated maternal health programme have had on reducing maternal mortality.

The abstract for this poster was published in a special online RCOG World Congress 2016 supplement of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG).


You can download a copy of the poster here.

Andy was involved with a number of presentations and the congress, including the presentation of findings of Phase 1 of the CRADLE 3 trial with Adrian and Nicky Vousden.  Nicky’s excellent presentation of these findings was awarded overall Best Oral Presentation of the congress.

The abstract for this presentation was also published in the special congress supplement of the BJOG.


Malawi Appeal – Thank You!

In June Maersk very generously donated a 40 foot shipping container to go from our office in Brighton to Malawi for free so we launched an urgent appeal for donations of medical equipment and supplies to send on 30th June.

Thank you

We have been overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of our supporters who have donated almost £7,000 worth of equipment, supplies and textbooks.  This was alongside additional donations of medical equipment, baby clothes, knitted blankets and baby vests, medical textbooks, bicycles, wheelchairs, nursing uniforms and an incredible donation of 548 blood pressure monitors which will help to save lives in pregnancy and childbirth.

A special thank you goes to Dave Hack, from Blue Sky Operations, who generously donated a truck full of furniture including desks, chairs, fridges, air con units and cabinets which will be used to kit out our medical reference library and training centre in Zomba Central Hospital.  He also took even more time off, along with his partner Lucy, to help us load the container.  We are very grateful to Dave, Lucy and all of our amazing volunteers who helped us to load the container on Thursday morning and those who helped us to pack up the donations in the week before – we couldn’t have done it without you, thank you!

Grace, our Country Director in Malawi, was visiting the UK for a short time in June and came to visit us in the office whilst we were in the middle of packing up some of the donations.  She was overcome by people’s generosity and had this emotional message for everyone who has donated and helped with our appeal:

Items donated from our wishlist included:

  • 5 x First Aid Kits
  • 2100 x Examination Gloves
  • 31 x Stethoscopes
  • 1900 x Sterile Wipes
  • 19 x Rechargeable Torches
  • 6 x Medical Ear Thermometers
  • 12 x Headtorches
  • 540 x Pregnancy Tests
  • 6 x Fans
  • 1 x Medical Privacy Screen
  • 5 x Blood Pressure and Stethoscope Set
  • 5 x Desk Lamps
  • 8 x Battery Charging Ports with 144 x Rechargeable Batteries
  • 16 x Waterproof Jackets for Community Healthcare Workers
  • 3 x External Hard-drives and 25 x USB Memory Sticks
  • 2 x Fridges
  • 50 x Baseball Caps for Staff
  • 312 x Hand Sanitiser
  • 7 x Rechargeable Floodlights for Health Centres
  • 270 x Notebooks for Training Staff
  • 14 x Pregnancy Wheels plus over 30 more donated
  • 23 x Pinard Fetal Stethoscope
  • 1 x Female Pelvic Muscle & Organ Anatomical Model
  • 71 x Nurses Fob Watch
  • 1 x Fetal Doppler
  • 6 x Baby Weighing Scales
  • 70 x Classic Thermometers
  • 82 x Rucksacks for our Community Healthcare Workers
  • Along with lots of medical textbooks and stationery














Thank you once again to everyone who made this possible, it is due to arrive in Malawi in late September so we’ll have an update then!

Edge Hill University – International Day of the Midwife

edge hill universityOn May 5th, Dr Annette Briley (our Trustee and a Consultant Midwife) attended Edge Hill University celebration for International day of the Midwife as a guest speaker to give a presentation about Maternity Worldwide’s aims, objectives, achievements and projects.

The event was attended by student midwives and qualified midwives as well as other allied health care professionals.

Professor Dame Tina Lavender spoke about her experiences contributing to the global health agenda; Georgia Macad spoke about midwifery in the Philippines and Sian Hipwood spoke about her experiences during her 3rd year elective in Ghana.

The overriding themes of the importance of women’s status in communities, and access to adequate health care to ensure safe births resonated throughout all the presentations.

It was a great opportunity to promote the work of Maternity Worldwide especially Muffins for Midwives and we were delighted to be invited to take part.

Small Charity Week Policy Day Reception

small charity weekYesterday our Trustee, Mary Russell, attended the Small Charity Week Policy Day Reception entitled The Future of International Aid: Will Small International Development Charities Survive?

This was an interesting and lively debate held at House of Lords.

Small charities working in international development are operating in a challenging environment and in the current economic climate their future can be questioned.  One suggestion was that the future of such charities is through social enterprise.

Small charities are very good at capacity building in the areas in which they work, so the future could be ‘letting go’ of projects once their capacity has been strengthened so that such projects sustain themselves.

It was pointed out that small charities, however, often inspire donor trust as they have deeper and richer relationships with the people who donate and they have excellent links to civil society as they have local conversations.

Questions and comments from the floor after the debate included where does the private sector fit in to this debate?  Also because philanthropy is changing to become more active, and with that small charities are demonstrating increasing innovation, is the real question ‘can large charities survive?’.

We were delighted to be invited to such an interesting event as part of Small Charity Week.

Lensa – our trainee midwife in Ethiopia

Lensa at UniversityLensa was a Diploma Nurse in the West Wollega area of Ethiopia.  We are sponsoring her 4 year course to become a qualified midwife through the money raised from Muffins for Midwives. 

When Lensa was a nurse she attended a series of training sessions run by Maternity Worldwide which have enabled her to increase her skills and confidence in caring for pregnant women and helping with deliveries which confirmed her decision that she wanted to train to become a midwife.

Lensa started her 4 year Midwifery Degree course in October 2012 and we asked her to let us know how she is getting on.  Here is what she had to say after her first year;

Lensa in scrubs - Ethiopia“I have classes Monday to Friday and sometimes tutorials on Saturday.  There are 53 students in my class and there are some very clever students.  I had exams in sociology and health technology and scored A in both.  I got an A+ in my anatomy exam and have my physiology.  The Myles textbook which Maternity Worldwide sent me has really helped.  I also have English classes as part of the course, I got a B+ for my exam but I am trying to improve.  I live in a nice dormitory with 8 other students.”

Lensa is now in her final year and has continued to work exceptionally hard throughout her course and remains at the top of her class.  There have been several placements and lots of practical experience throughout the course which Lensa has excelled at including complex deliveries.

“My latest placement is at Bedelle Hospital at Bedelle Town near to Mettu (120km from Mettu University where my course is).  I got lots of experience attending deliveries including complex ones, giving antenatal care services for pregnant women, providing family planning services etc………I am really enjoying it.  Thank you very much for supporting me, Lensa”.

Muffins for MidwivesLensa qualifies this Summer and will start work as a midwife in a local health centre helping women now and for the future to give birth safely.  This has only been possible thanks to the money raised through Muffins for Midwives so thank you to everyone who has taken part and donated.

It costs as little as £80 a month, on average, to sponsor the training of a midwife in Ethiopia that’s just £4 a day!  In West Wollega, throughout the career of a midwife they could help to deliver approximately 7,500 babies.  At the moment around 94% of women give birth without any skilled health workers present.  We could change this by training more midwives.  If you would like to help then why not host a Muffins for Midwives event.

Robert starts final year of midwifery training

RobertRobert, one of our student midwives in Malawi, is just starting his final year of training. 

We hear from Robert about how his course is going and the challenges he faces;

We have just started our next placement and have just done an assessment in antenatal care, the results from the assessment are not yet out, but in terms of midwifery theory things are good and understandable.

As for general nursing now am doing well, though need extra hard working.  On the placement assessments which we have done, I got the following grades; Theater 91%, 1st medical assessment 81%, Under 5 care 76%, Psychiatric 77%, Family planning 81%.  These are the assessments that we have done so far.  From these I have some experiences that are helping me for the future health worker I will be.  For example I have learnt that most of the maternal deaths are because of mismanagement and lack of knowledge of some care givers of which its very bad.  Becoming a mother should not mean a threat to their lives.  So I hope to be well equipped with knowledge so that I will assist mothers to give birth safely.

My desire is to be equipped with more effective knowledge and to progress in this course up until the above levels, especially this midwifery, but I need some years of experience first to increase my knowledge and skills, but I will continue with this field in what ever means, that’s my desire.


Academically, challenges are minimal, just electricity problems which is now a song of Malawians, but for me with the Laptop donated to me by Maternity Worldwide I just charge it fully so that studies continue though no electricity, and that is one of the advantages of having it, with the book it is also making school life simple because I have it full time in my room, otherwise, everything is good.

As a stated some time back that am from the poorest family that is even one of the beneficiary to other donations here in Malawi, our house in my home village fell down due to floods, so I am also a basic needs provider to my parents, and paying a secondary school fees to my young brother who is now in form 3, and I have my sister’s son who is disabled and at age of going to school (Primary) but can not because of his mobility problem that needs like a wheelchair.  So these sometimes give me problems psychologically though sometimes encourage me to work extra hard so that I will be the changing agent to help my family.  But I make sure that these will not affect my academic progress, otherwise everything is just fine and I am enjoying studying.

Once again thank you for what you think and do to my future, and am promising to be a good health worker.
If you would like to help us to continue training student midwives such as Robert please consider making a donation to our Muffins for Midwives campaign or to get involved and host a Muffins for Midwives event to help us raise even more money to support students such as Robert to become a midwife.  1 in 22 women die during pregnancy or childbirth, having a midwife or skilled birth attendant present is the most effective way to save lives.



Maternity Worldwide quoted in The Guardian for ways to improve maternal health

guardian-logoOur Chair, Dr Adrian Brown, was invited to be part of a panel of experts on a recent live Q&A session run by The Guardian on how to improve maternal health in conflict and extreme poverty.  A summary of the discussion was published in The Guardian article ’11 ideas to improve maternal health in areas of conflict and extreme poverty’.   We were delighted that our contribution was noted in the article and it was great to be part of such an important discussion.

“I think this is a great way to connect with the public and other interesting organisations who were on the panel and because it takes part online you are then able to provide more detailed answers and direct people to web resources as well as interacting with a global audience”. Dr Adrian Brown, Chair.

You can read the full article here.



Our Chair presents at FIGO World Congress in Canada

FIGO Vancouver 2015 logoOur Chair, Dr Adrian Brown, was invited to present at the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) World Congress in Toronto, Canada in October 2015.  His presentation including sharing the evidence base and best practice on our Integrated Approach to improving maternal health based on the ‘Three Delays Model’ and information on the latest research project, CRADLE 3.  The presentation is available upon request.

About FIGO

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) is the only organisation that brings together professional societies of obstetricians and gynecologists on a global basis.  FIGO’s vision is for women of the world to achieve the highest possible standards of physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing throughout their lives.  For over 60 years FIGO has collaborated with the world’s top health and donor bodies.  FIGO currently has Member Societies in 130 countries/territories.

Quote from our Chair

“I was honoured to be asked to present at the FIGO World Congress and to have the opportunity to share our evidence base on the Integrated Approach to improving maternal health compiled over the previous 14 years of working in maternal health in Africa.  It is really important that maternal health organisations and health providers attempt to simultaneously address each of the issues women face accessing safe and appropriate childbirth.” Dr Adrian Brown, Chair.

Shortlisted for Royal College of Midwives Best Charity Initiative Award

Maternity Worldwide are delighted to announce we have been shortlisted for the Royal College of Midwives Best Charity Initiative Award for our ‘Muffins for Midwives’ fundraising campaign – raising money to train more midwives in Africa!

RCM Awards official logos-Shortlisted (2)The RCM Annual Midwifery Awards reward, celebrate and share outstanding achievement in midwifery across the UK.  They recognise the best new evidence-based practice projects and the best in team working.  They discover outstanding individuals making a difference for women, families and the newborn.  A true reflection of excellence in midwifery and are designed to: Promote best practice and world-class midwifery standards; Showcase practice innovations and ground-breaking initiatives; Recognise individual and team excellence.  For more information visit the RCM Awards website at www.rcmawards.com/consumer-categories.

Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Just to be shortlisted is a remarkable achievement and I congratulate Maternity Worldwide on their achievement.  This award highlights how important charities like Maternity Worldwide are in delivering much needed support to mothers and their babies in developing countries.  Maternity Worldwide’s vision of a world in which all women and their babies can access safe childcare is a vision that is shared by RCM.  All of the campaigns shortlisted illustrate how passionate, dedicated and committed individual organisations are to improving the life of pregnant women.  I wish them all the best of luck at the awards ceremony in March.”

The winners will be announced at the Annual RCM Midwifery Awards Lunch on 8 March 2016 at The Brewery, London.

Muffins for Midwives is an opportunity for our supporters to host a tea party, coffee morning or bake sale and the money raised goes directly to sponsoring the training of more midwives in Africa.