Research priorities in maternal and neonatal health in Africa: results using the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative method involving over 900 experts across the continent

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


Background: Africa will miss the maternal and neonatal health (MNH) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets if the current trajectory is followed. The African Academy of Sciences has formed an expert maternal and newborn health group to discuss actions to improve MNH SDG targets. The team, among other recommendations, chose to implement an MNH research prioritization exercise for Africa covering four grand challenge areas. Methods: The team used the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) research prioritization method to identify research priorities in maternal and newborn health in Africa. From 609 research options, a ranking of the top 46 research questions was achieved. Research priority scores and agreement statistics were calculated, with sub-analysis possible for the regions of East Africa, West Africa and those living out of the continent. Results: The top research priorities generally fell into (i) improving identification of high-risk mothers and newborns, or diagnosis of high-risk conditions in mothers and newborns to improve health outcomes; (ii) improving access to treatment through improving incentives to attract and retain skilled health workers in remote, rural areas, improving emergency transport, and assessing health systems' readiness; and (iii) improving uptake of proven existing interventions such as Kangaroo Mother Care. Conclusions: The research priorities emphasized building interventions that improved access to quality healthcare in the lowest possible units of the provision of MNH interventions. The lists prioritized participation of communities in delivering MNH interventions. The current burden of disease from MNCH in Africa aligns well with the list of priorities listed from this exercise but provides extra insights into current needs by African practitioners. The MNCH Africa expert group believes that the recommendations from this work should be implemented by multisectoral teams as soon as possible to provide adequate lead time for results of the succeeding programmes to be seen before 2030.


AAS Open Research