Bid to cut childbirth mortality with game for African midwives


Researchers at The University of Manchester have developed a new board game that will help African midwives to detect prolonged and obstructed labour to prevent women dying in childbirth.

The new game, called Progression, has been designed to help midwives learn to use a partograph – a universally used chart which records a wealth of information on factors such as heart rate, labour progress, blood pressure, and temperature, to flag-up any issues with the mother and her baby.

Midwives generally find the chart difficult to complete. Moreover, they struggle to use it as a decision-making aid. This prevents it being used properly to prevent maternal death and illness due to obstructed and prolonged labour – a major issue in many developing countries.

Prof. Dame Tina Lavender, from the University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, led the project. ‘The game is designed to provide new knowledge, revise what they already know, and discuss with other players the best ways to support women. The feedback from midwives working in these countries during the pilot was overwhelmingly positive.’

Progression involves charting a series of findings from a woman in labour. As players move around the board they land on spaces that trigger a randomly selected card question, which they have to answer to keep moving.

A pilot scheme carried out with 165 midwives in East Africa which has just concluded, reported overwhelmingly that participants found the game useful, entertaining and educational.

It was developed from an idea Dr. Gaynor MacLean had, with funding from the Laerdal Foundation and the pilot was carried out in partnership with the Lugina Africa Midwives Research Network – a network of midwives involving The University of Manchester, as well as academics and health workers from Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania.


Leave A Reply