East Africa​

As part of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the Aga Khan University, the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, East Africa targets population and public health, health systems strengthening, quality of clinical care, education and research, in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health( RMNCAH) to improve understanding on health and wellbeing in women, adolescents and children.  

The team of researchers includes experts in public health systems research, social science, epidemiology, obstetrics - gynaecology, paediatrics, nursing and midwifery, family medicine, biostatistics and monitoring and evaluation. CoEWCH EA offers a platform for research for students and interested faculty, and provides evidence based information and technical support to national and international governments, civil society, development agencies researchers and other key stakeholders. 

In East Africa, the Centre has engagement in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and is instrumental in strengthening the local capacity in data and knowledge management, research and learning.​

Research Projects

​​​​​Using Data to improve Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health - AMMITY (Donor - Africa Academy of Sciences – AAS)

​Using the Kenya health information system and the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in Kenya, this study aims to analyse trends in fMMR and also develop predictive models that will utilise multiple socio- demographic, health systems and clinical characteristics to determine the risk of women dying during delivery. These models will be developed, tested and used to inform priorities, policies and practices​

A prospective cohort study investigating maternal, pregnancy and neonatal outcome in  women and neonates infected with SARS-CoV-2 - WHO Cohort study (Donor - World Health Organization – WHO)

This cohort study will be investigating the longitudinal course of women with exposure, exposure risk, or documented infection with SARS-CoV-2 during their pregnancy. The overarching goal of this study is to gain critical knowledge on how infection with SARS-CoV-2 impacts pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, with the additional aims to understand MTCT (if any), viral presence in pregnancy-related body fluids and tissues, and the clinical presentation of the disease in pregnant women. Additionally, this protocol includes an option for a case control component to investigate disease severity in pregnancy compared to non-pregnant women with COVID-19.

My Pregnancy - Mimba Yangu (Donor – Philips Foundation)

The Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University (AKU), East Africa in partnership with the Philips Foundation are in  an agreement to enable access of portable ultrasound equipment and Mobile Obstetric Monitoring (MOM) application in Kilifi County. The project called “Mimba Yangu” (My pregnancy) aims to assess the outcomes and potential impact of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended  one   ultrasound  in   every   pregnancy before 24 weeks in light of utilization of primary health care services, pregnancy outcomes and maternal- newborn health.​


Global Infectious Diseases and HPV Research Training in Kenya - D43 (Donor National Institutes of Health – NIH)

​Detecting, preventing, and treating HPV infection is thus a major health priority for the country and the region. The objectives of this study are to: 1) increase research into the prevention, detection, and treatment of HPV infection and its impact on cancer; 2) strengthen the capacity of AKU to conduct research in infectious diseases; and 3) expand knowledge and skills in clinical research across AKU campuses in East Africa.

The PRECISE Network (Donor – Research Councils of UK)

The PRECISE Network is a group of research scientists and health advocates mainly based in the UK and Africa, but also including the World Health Organization. With funding from the Research Councils of the UK, we are establishing this network through a shared project that will investigate three important complications of pregnancy, namely high blood pressure (hypertension), babies who are smaller than they should be before birth (fetal growth restriction) and babies who die before birth (stillbirth).

PRECISE DYAD (Welcome Trust)

The DYAD project extends the ongoing PRECISE network study [PRECISEnetwork.org] of 10,000 pregnant women and their infants (dyads) to provide insights into health and disease in two of the original three sub-Saharan African countries, The Gambia and Kenya. We aim to understand what happens to mothers and children after pregnancies complicated by pregnancy hypertension, fetal growth restriction, stillbirth, preterm birth, and/or hyperglycaemia

Impact of Covid-19 mitigation measures in Kenya on Reproductive Health - COVID SRHR (Donor United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA)

This study is funded by UNFPA and aims at assessing the potential ways that Kenyan COVID19 mitigation response could particularly affect sexual and reproductive health resource poor populations with focus on women of reproductive age (15-49 year) including female adolescents (10 – 19 years).​

Family Planning and Urban Development in Kenya: Exploring the Policy and Programmatic Gaps and opportunities for intersection – FPUD  ( Donor - IUSSP)

This study explores the policy and programmatic gaps in Family planning (FP) and Urban Development with a view to proposing intersections and point of convergence that can be exploited for effective policy formulation and implementation. It will be conducted in Kenya, in the county of Nairobi focusing on the urban poor segments living in informal settlements

​Innovative approaches to adolescent perinatal wellbeing – INSPIRE (UK Research and Innovation - UKRI)

Using a human-centred, systems-minded design approach, complemented by implementation science methods, the INSPIRE project will identify, design and pilot interventions for use among pregnant adolescent girls and new mothers aged 15-19 years in Kenya and Mozambique. It is comprised of two phases: (1) intervention development and (2) pilot testing conducted over 48 months (1 September 2020 – 31 August 2024). Within the two phases are five research-focused work packages (WPs) through which project responsibilities are delegated. Table 1 provides a description of the project activities and deliverables.

Understanding COVID-19 infections in pregnant women and their babies in Africa – periCOVID (Donor – EDCTP)

Our study is designed to develop a South-South partnership (MUJHU-MLW-Aga Khan University-Manhica (NB. Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme is a collaboration with University of Liverpool)) in order to: Develop COVID-19 surveillance in pregnancy in The Gambia, Kenya, Malawi,Mozambique to define the burden of disease, determine the pregnancy outcomes in women infected with COVID in pregnancy, estimate the seroepidemiology of COVID-19 infection in four African countries, Work with communities to develop understanding of infection prevention and control techniques to reduce the spread of COVID-19 amongst the pregnant population

Health systems analysis and evaluations of the barriers to availability, utilization and readiness of selected sexual and reproductive health services in COVID-19 affected areas – WHO Health Systems (Donor – World Health Organization – WHO)

​Through the use of facility assessment survey and qualitative interviews, this research study aims to identify the key gaps and barriers to the delivery of important aspects of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services in health emergencies.

Delivering Sustainable and Equitable Increases in Family Planning in Kenya – DESIP (Donor DFID)

The goal of DESIP is to ensure that couples, women and girls can safely plan for their pregnancies in line with sexual and reproductive health rights, particularly the young rural woman, marginalised and persons with disability. Through this programme, an additional 322,000 FP users are expected to be reached, 2.3 Million Couple Years of Protection (CYP) provided, and 2,221 maternal deaths averted by 2024. 

Lancet series on vulnerable newborn (Donor - Children's Investment Fund Foundation CIFF)

​The aim of this project is for AKU to coordinate paper 5 for the Lancet series which aims to call for global action for the commitments for vulnerable newborns.

​Point of Care Tests in Rural Primary Care Facilities to Improve Access to Antenatal Screening

Despite centuries of facility based antenatal care provision in rural Africa and increasing rates of antenatal care attendance, many pregnant women still do not access basic antenatal screening tests. Many primary care facilities do not provide antenatal tests (except for HIV) and refer women to off-site laboratories for testing. This results in lower coverage of screening, higher losses to follow up and delay in or ​failure of initiation of treatment.  

​This study aims to assess the integration of a package of point of care testing in facilities that provide antenatal care but do not currently offer recommended screening tests. We will assess how feasible and acceptable this intervention is and whether it results in earlier and wider access to screening tests and timely actions for women with abnormal results. 

The study will be conducted in collaboration with Kilifi County Department of Health services. The study will be conducted in health facilities in Rabai subcounty of  Kilifi county in coastal Kenya. All public primary care facilities (dispensaries) that offer ANC, have no laboratory and are staffed by at least one nurse will be eligible.     

This work is supported through Grand Challenges Africa GCA/ISG/Round1/356, a scheme of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA).​​​

Sexual and Reproductive Health Scoping Study (2018)
​​​The AKU’s CoEWCH-EA was contracted by the Canadian High Commission to carry out a scoping study on SRHR in Kenya. This consultancy aimed to: Identify current challenges and issues related to SRHR in Kenya; Map other donor engagements, government programs and private sector investments in SRHR programs in Kenya; Identify and assess current gaps in SRHR programming in Kenya that would align with the Government of Canada’s Feminist international Assistance Policy objectives and with Kenya’s Vision 2030, and; Identify potential partners and initiatives that align well with Canadian objectives, respond to identified needs and complement the Canadian government’s current portfolio in Kenya. The consultancy results recommend differential options and possible partners for potential future SRHR.

Countdown to 2015 for Kenya
The CoE WCH EA was involved in the Countdown to 2015 for Kenya. This was an in-depth Country Case Study to better understand Kenya’s progress on elements of reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health with relevance to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 and parts of MDGs 1, 6 and 7.​​

Research Publications

  1. Deliver on Your Own: Disrespectful Maternity Care in rural Kenya​: Adelaide M. Lusambili ,Violet Naanyu,Terrance J. Wade,Lindsay Mossman,Michaela Mantel,Rachel Pell,Angela Ngetich,Kennedy Mulama,Lucy Nyaga,Jerim Obure,Marleen Temmerman

  2. Optimising caesarean section use​:​ Ties Boerma, Carine Ronsmans, Dessalegn Y Melesse, Aluisio J D Barros, Fernando C Barros, Liang Juan, Ann-Beth Moller, Lale Say, Ahmad Reza Hosseinpoor, Mu Yi, Dácio de Lyra Rabello Neto, Marleen Temmerman