Research in East Africa

Through both implementation science and discovery research, PTBi East Africa is focused on reducing the burden of prematurity in Western Kenya, Eastern Uganda, and Rwanda. Our goals are to improve knowledge of preterm birth, to reduce neonatal mortality due to prematurity, and to improve quality of care during the antenatal, intrapartum and immediate postnatal periods. We are committed to promoting relationships between East African and UCSF investigators, developing new talent, and building research capacity in the area of prematurity.

Intrapartum package in Kenya and Uganda

Together with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Makerere University, we are conducting implementation research at 17 health facilities in Migori County, Kenya and six health facilities in the Busoga region, Uganda. We are investigating the impact of an interventions package that includes customized versions of the WHO’s Safe Childbirth Checklist, simulation and team training for providers through PRONTO International (preparing clinicians to better identify and manage preterm births), and training for health facility staff in quality improvement cycles. We are also strengthening the use of existing facility-based data collection tools and practices. We feel confident that this package of interventions will improve the quality of care for mothers and newborns and ultimately save lives in both Kenya and Uganda.

Group care in Rwanda

Drawing on previous research in the US that shows group care can reduce preterm birth rates, our work in Rwanda focuses on group antenatal and postnatal care (referred to as prenatal and postpartum in the US). Partnering with the University of Rwanda’s Dr. Sabine Musange and the Rwanda Biomedical Center, we are performing the largest cluster randomized control trial of group antenatal and postnatal care in the world. 10,000 women across 36 government health centers in five districts will participate.

Discovery research

As part of our holistic approach to address preterm birth, PTBi-EA supports locally driven discovery research and innovation to better understand its causes, epidemiology, and outcomes. We are committed to capacity building, having successfully fostered connections among researchers, mentors, and students. Our discovery projects focus on improving gestational age assessment, understanding risk factors for preterm birth (infection, environmental toxins, and nutrition), and testing new innovations to address the care of preterm infants.