New Approaches to Maternal Mortality In Africa

2 July 2012 - 3 July 2012

CRASSH

Conference Conveners

Ashley Moffett (Professor of Reproductive Immunology)
Megan Vaughan
(Professor of Commonwealth History)

271 

Conference Summary

Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG5) aims to improve maternal health. Unlike other MDGs, few countries are on track to achieve even the first goal of MDG 5, namely, to reduce maternal mortality by 75%. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from the highest regional maternal mortality rate (MMR) at 640 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and the annual decline has only been 0.1%.  In stark contrast, average MMR in developed countries is 14. 

The focus for discussion and action to reduce maternal mortality rates is of necessity largely restricted to the fields of medicine and public health. At the same time, however, there is a spectrum of challenging biological, social and cultural issues that constitute the context within which maternal mortality occurs. In our workshop we plan to break new ground by bringing together those with expertise in current initiatives to reduce MMR with leading researchers in genetics, immunology, obstetric epidemiology, and social and biological anthropology.

The aim of the conference is to provide a forum within which people with very different expertise and experience can explore the latest research findings and see how these could influence understanding and ideas for action to reduce maternal mortality in Africa.  

The following two areas, taken together, will form the focus of the conference:

  1. Biological mechanisms determining birth outcomes
  2. The social and historical context for maternal mortality in Africa

We see this as a unique opportunity to bring together those with experience of implementing initiatives aimed at reducing MMR with researchers from different but highly relevant academic disciplines. Our focus on this important issue will enable us to bring together the latest research in fields that all too often do not ‘talk’ to each other. An additional question to be posed in the course of this conversation concerns the very nature of interdisciplinary enquiry. Do we have a language with which to talk meaningfully of the interactions between biology and history?  To what extent can basic scientific research inform policy-making?

For details of confirmed speakers, please see the link at the right hand side of this page.

Sponsors

 

 

The conveners are grateful for the support of King's College, the Centre for African Studies, Department of Pathology and the Centre for Trophoblast Research, all at the University of Cambridge.

 

Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation for delegates, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms

University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

 Administrative assistance: Ruth Rushworth (Publicity & Development at CRASSH)

Programme

Monday 2 July

 

9.00 - 9.30

Registration


9.30 - 10.00

Welcome
Sir Leszek Borysiewicz (Vice-Chancellor, Cambridge)

Introduction
Ashley Moffett (Reproductive Immunology, Cambridge)
Megan Vaughan (African History, Cambridge)





Panel 1

Chair
Tessa Mattholie (DfID)

10.00-10.30

Wendy Graham (Obstetric Epidemiology, Aberdeen)
Maternal mortality: evidence gaps and measurement traps 

10.30-11.00

Annettee Nakimuli (Obstetrics, Makerere)
What are the main causes of maternal mortality in Africa? 

11.00-11.30

Tea/coffee

    11.30-12.00

    Karen Rosenberg (Biological Anthropology, Delaware)
    Why have humans reached this dangerous position in comparison with great apes? 

    12.00-12.30

    Jonathan Wells
    The obstetric dilemma: an ancient game of Russian Roulette,  or another fine mess that agriculture got us into?

    12.30-1.00

    Discussion 

    1.00-2.00

    Lunch





    Panel 2

    Chair
    Melissa Lane (Politics, Princeton)

    2.00-2.30 

    Philip Steer (Obstetrics)
    What are the influences of maternal ethnic background on obstetric outcomes in London hospitals today? 

    2.30-3.00

    Ashley Moffett (Reproductive Immunology, Cambridge)
    How does the mother’s immune system affect the outcome of pregnancy?

    3.00-3.30

    Vincent De Brouwere (Comparative Epidemiology, Antwerp)
    Why and when did maternal mortality decline in modern societies? 

    3.30-4.00

    Tea/coffee

    4.00-4.30

    Megan Vaughan (African History, Cambridge)
    Moral responsibility, accountability and maternal death in Central Africa: a historical approach

    4.30-5.00 

    Discussion

    5.00-5.30

    Jean Michel Massing (History of Art, Cambridge)
    From Birth to Death in Africa: 16th to 18th Century Testimonies

    5.30-7.00

    Wine reception 

     

    Tuesday 3 July

     






    9.30 – 10.00

    Panel 3

    Chair
    Henrietta Moore (Social Anthropology, Cambridge)


    Godfrey Mbaruku (African Health, Tanzania)
    Health Systems/ policy towards reduction of maternal and neonatal deaths

    10.00- 10.30

    Caroline Bledsoe (Social Anthropology, Northwestern)
    'A drug of many uses':  Misoprostol and the language of ambiguity in the ‘management’ of pregnancy and labour in the US and West Africa

    10.30-11.00

    Rachel Chapman (Social Anthropology, Washington)
    Maternal Mortality, HIV/AIDS and the New Counter-Geography of Survival in Central Mozambique

    11.00-11.30

    Tea/coffee

    11.30-12.00

    Claire Wendland (Medical Anthropology, Wisconsin)
    Explanations and uncertainties surrounding unsafe motherhood in Malawi

      12.00-12.30

      Grace Kyomuhendo (Social Anthropology, Makerere)
      Why Interventions so often Fail: Fractures and Continuities in Cultural and Gender Drivers of Maternal Health in Africa

      12.30-1.00

      Discussion

      1.00-2.00

      Lunch






      2.00-2.30

      Panel 4

      Chair

      Ruth Prince (Social Anthropology, Cambridge)

      Vikki Chambers
      (Overseas Development Institute)
      A comparative perspective of the institutional factors which shape maternal health outcomes in Malawi, Niger, Rwanda and Uganda


      2.30-3.00

      Kusum Gopal (UN Expert)
      A woman exists solely to give birth: understanding the culture of maternal health in Dodoma Tanzania

      3.00-3.30 

      Summing up
      Melissa Lane (Politics, Princeton)

      3.30-4.00 

      Discussion and Future Directions led by
      Melissa Lane (Politics, Princeton)
      Henrietta Moore (Social Anthropology, Cambridge)
      Tessa Mattholie (DfID)

      4.00-4.30

      Closing Remarks
      Ashley Moffett (Reproductive Immunology, Cambridge)
      Megan Vaughan (African History, Cambridge)