Event updates

Seminar 1: Innovations to improve maternal and newborn death surveillance to respond to future Ebola outbreaks

Watch the presentations here and below.

Read a blog on the seminar here.


  • a presentation by Dr Chris Lewis about the UK Government’s response to Ebola in Sierra Leone and what opportunities there are to strengthen resilience of the health system, available here
  • a method to estimate maternal and newborn mortality during a crisis, as presented by Laura Sochas, available here
  • a presentation by Dr Benjamin Black on how MSF’s maternal health programme adapted to respond to Ebola and his reflections on MDSRs, available here

Event information

Date and Time: Tuesday 17 January 2017, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Location: John Snow Lecture Theatre, LSHTM, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

seminar-1-photoRecently, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa hit the poorest hardest. The three countries most affected by the crisis were amongst the top 11 countries in Africa with the highest maternal mortality (click here to see data).

In Sierra Leone, which holds the highest maternal mortality in the world, systems to count and investigate maternal deaths were hampered.

This seminar will explore:

  • limited data availability affecting operations in maternal and newborn health through a donor lens;
  • an innovative method to quantify the indirect mortality effects of the crisis; and the
  • changing landscape of maternal health response, including implications for maternal death surveillance and response and how will we react in the future.


Moderator: Dr Sara L Nam, Global MDSR Action Network – Evidence for Action, Options

Admission and registration: It is free to attend this seminar, but registration is required. Registration is now closed.

To learn more about the seminar series, Innovations in Maternal and Perinatal Health in Humanitarian Settings: Exploring Evidence and Innovations to Improve Maternal and Newborn Survival among Populations Affected by Humanitarian Crises, click here.

Email: mdsr@evidence4action.net

Twitter: @E4AMamaYeAfrica #MDSR

Dr Benjamin Black, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Médecins Sans Frontières, talks about the provision of maternal and newborn care during the Ebola.

Laura Sochas, Mphil/PhD candidate, Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, discusses a method to estimate the number of indirect maternal and newborn deaths during a humanitarian crisis.

Read more about the seminar series here.

Find out more about the second seminar: Applying maternal death surveillance and response in crisis settings here.

Seminar 2: Applying maternal death surveillance and response in crisis settings

Watch the live recording of the seminar here and the presentations here and below.

Read our blog on the event, Using Data to Prevent Maternal Deaths in Crisis Settings.


Continue reading

Feedback from Evidence for Action about ESOG and AFOG conferences

Blog_ESOG & AFOG conferences_landscape 2

Evidence for Action (E4A) Ethiopia were honoured to take part in the Second Annual Conference of the African Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (AFOG), and 25th Annual Conference and Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Ethiopian Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ESOG) on 2-4 February, 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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They were joined by Dr Tunde Segun, the E4A Country Director in Nigeria. Collectively, the E4A team provided support to a satellite session, gave five presentations and hosted a booth on behalf of the MDSR Action network. We share some reflections on the event here.

The conference was attended by around 400 participants from across Africa and included representatives from Ministries of Health, United Nations partners and non-governmental organisations. Continue reading

The power of communities: strengthening maternal death reporting…and much more!

  • Doubling the number of maternal deaths identified.
  • Accurate and cost-efficient method of measuring the maternal mortality ratio.
  • Strengthened relationships and trust between health facilities and communities they serve.
  • Community actions to prevent future deaths: establishing mobile antenatal care clinics, arranging community meetings to explore traditional beliefs and mobilising funds for bicycle ambulances.

9931220574_d3c293d629_cThese are some of the key results from a community-linked maternal death review (CLMDR) pilot that ran from 2011-2012 in Mchinji district, Malawi.  Presented by Dr Tim Colbourn, Lecturer in Global Health Epidemiology and Evaluation at the University College London (UCL) Institute for Global Heath, the results of the study show the importance of involving communities in the process of identifying maternal death and acting on the recommendations of maternal death review and surveillance (MDSR) systems. Continue reading

Community-linked maternal death review (CLMDR) to measure and prevent maternal mortality: a pilot study in rural Malawi

At a MDSR Action Network event at Options, Dr Tim Colbourn from the University College London (UCL) Institute for Global Health presented the findings of his co-authored paper: Community-linked maternal death review (CLMDR) to measure and prevent maternal mortality: a pilot study in rural Malawi. Continue reading

Join the MDSR Action Network in Addis Ababa

Image_National Report_PostOn 2-4 February – are you going to:

  • the second annual conference of the African Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • and the 25th annual conference and Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Ethiopian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

If so, visit the MDSR Action Network booth hosted by Evidence for Action (E4A) Ethiopia. Click here for more information about the conferences.

Stop by any time to find out more about what we do, browse our products, and tell us how you are involved in MDSR. We hope to see you there!

Seminar Series: 2017

Innovations in maternal and perinatal health in humanitarian settings: Exploring evidence and innovations to improve maternal and newborn survival among populations affected by humanitarian crises 

This new seminar series will take place at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in collaboration with the Global MDSR Action Network and LSHTM’s Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre and The Centre for Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive, and Child Health (MARCH). Continue reading

Making the case for MDSR at Women Deliver

The MDSR Action Network was represented at the Women Deliver conference through an Options evening side event on ‘Accountability for Health Results’.

The event included talks and booths about Options’ work in Nigeria, Nepal, Tanzania and Malawi as well as Options’ regional network and platforms: MamaYe, Africa Health Budget Network, The Girl Generation, African Health Stats and the MDSR Action Network.

Photo credit: E4A

The MDSR booth at the event exhibited materials highlighting Options’ MDSR work worldwide, including copies of the MDSR Action Network newsletter and the MDSR scorecards from Sierra Leone and Nigeria. It provided a great opportunity to share resources and experiences of how different countries are using MDSR to strengthen accountability to improve the care of mothers and babies.

Dr Tunde Segun, Country Director of MamaYe-E4A Nigeria, manned the booth and engaged with a steady stream of visitors, talking them through the materials, answering questions, and inviting them to sign up for the MDSR Action Network newsletter. Almost all of those approaching the booth readily agreed to sign up to be kept in the loop on this important issue.

Dr Segun spoke to a crowded room about how the MamaYe-E4A programme in Nigeria has supported MDSR. For example, four states have now established MDSR scorecards, which measure the strength of the MDSR system and can act as powerful catalysts of action to improve quality of care. In Jigawa State, the MDSR data showed clearly that more maternal deaths were occurring at night, and action was taken to modify staff rotas to ensure senior midwives were on duty during the night shifts.

In Ondo State during the last quarter of 2015 and first quarter of 2016, the MDSR scorecard showed that sepsis had overtaken haemorrhage as the primary cause of maternal death. Health care providers, policy makers and stakeholders discussed these findings, looking at gains made in addressing haemorrhage by improving the functionality of blood banks in Ondo, but also in terms of the practical actions the state could take to confront sepsis. Actions such as lobbying to get the most effective antibiotics available under the state’s free maternity services are being considered.

Finally, Dr Segun celebrated Nigeria’s pioneering spirit on MDSR by sharing the fact that during the FIGO World Congress in Vancouver 2015, the World Health Organization had revealed that Nigeria was the only country at that time to have produced an MDSR scorecard at the sub-national level.


This case study was informed by feedback from Dr Tunde Segun, Country Director for Evidence for Action in Nigeria.

Feedback from the Midwifery Symposium: young midwives in the lead

Photo credit: Rosie Le Voir/ E4A

Coordinator of the MDSR Action Network, Dr Louise Hulton, worked with Young Midwife Leaders as part of the Midwifery Symposium to demonstrate the value of multi-disciplinary team involvement in MDSR

In the lead up to the 2016 Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen, the UNFPA, the World Health Organization and the International Confederation of Midwives held a satellite Midwifery Symposium titled ‘Young Midwives in the Lead’.

  1. Support young midwives with leadership potential to become powerful strategic leaders and advocates, who can engage in national policy dialogues with a stronger evidence-based voice.
  2. Emphasise the vital role that midwives can play in achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and equip them with increased knowledge about global commitments, latest research findings and evidence base, and knowledge of global midwifery programmes to fulfil this role.
  3. Create a global network of YMLs to serve as a platform for exchanging good practices and innovations for improving quality of midwifery care and enabling the young midwives to have a wider impact across the entire health and social care system.
  4. Showcase how global investments in YML can help improve quality of midwifery practice and emphasising the importance of investment in research, advocacy, mentorship and leadership skills of young midwife leaders.

Photo credit: E4A

The organisers of the Symposium invited the Coordinator for the Maternal Death Surveillance and Response Action Network, Dr Louise Hulton, to participate as a technical resource and an advocate to raise awareness of the MDSR network.

In a session titled ‘Harnessing the Evidence’, Dr Hulton worked with a group of Young Midwife Leaders to familiarise them with the process of MDSR and to support them to take the lead in advocating for the MDSR model in their home countries. She was joined by Louise Silverton from the Royal College of Midwives who supported the exercise.

The session was the perfect opportunity to engage YMLs in a discussion about the importance of their role in every aspect of the cycle of MDSRs, from the identification and notification of maternal deaths, through the review and analysis process, to the creation, implementation and monitoring of recommendations to improve quality of care.

It was emphasised that the fundamental principles of the MDSR model protect and support health workers through the process, with Confidentiality, Anonymity and a ‘No name, no blame’ culture essential to the success of the model.

Dr Hulton explained the role that midwives and other healthcare actors can play in establishing these principles:

  • Confidentiality: local data collectors and involved health care workers should be the only staff to see the names of the deceased and keep that knowledge contained within the review committees. All individuals with access to identifying information should sign a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement.
  • Anonymity: all paperwork involved in the reviews should have identifying names obscured or absent to protect the patient, family, friends, and staff members involved.
  • ‘No name, no blame’ culture: there needs to be acknowledgements throughout the health system that mistakes do happen, and a constructive approach taken when they do. Learning from mistakes allows preventive measures to be taken in the future. ‘No blame’ should never mean ‘no accountability’, but support and training are better solutions to preventing future deaths than encouraging healthcare workers to shoulder blame. The establishment of a multi-professional committee to oversee MDSR can go a long way towards building a sense of solidarity and understanding of the crucial role that each cadre of worker, including midwives, plays in the process. This sort of committee can also bring in new perspectives on the process and draw a fuller picture.

Finally, the YMLs were engaged in a short role play where they were asked to make the case to Clinical Officer (played by International Confederation of Midwives’ Senior Midwifery Advisor, Nester Moyo) for introducing MDSR to measure maternal and newborn deaths and identify evidence-based actions needed to improve quality of care.

The YMLs stepped up to the challenge and delivered a compelling case to the Clinical Officer for establishing MDSR in order to create an evidence-based culture of accountability and action for women and babies.

The training and advocacy opportunity for these YMLs during the ‘Harnessing the Evidence’ session directly delivered on the objectives of the Symposium by providing YMLs with the practical tools to be able to draw on evidence, strategically advocate for improvements, and in so doing, take the lead on MDSR.

To read more about the Midwifery Symposium and to hear the voices of the YMLs, please visit the ICM website here.


This case study was informed by feedback from Dr Louise Hulton and materials drafted for the ‘Harnessing the Evidence’ session.