Midwife led ultrasound scanning to date pregnancy in Malawi: Development of a novel training program

Alexandra Viner, Gladys Membe-Gadama, Sonia Whyte, Doris Kayambo, Martha Masamba, Caroline Hollins Martin, Brian Magowan, Rebecca M Reynolds, Sarah J Stock, Bridget Freyne, Luis Gadama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The use of ultrasound to determine gestational age is fundamental to the optimum management of pregnancy and is recommended for all women by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, this modality remains unavailable to many women in low-income countries where trained practitioners are scarce. Although previous initiatives have demonstrated efficacy in training midwives and technicians to perform antenatal ultrasound, these programs have often been too long and too complex to be realistic within the specific constraints of this context, highlighting the need for a novel and pragmatic approach. We describe the development and piloting of a bespoke course to teach midwives three fundamental components of early antenatal ultrasound scanning: to identify the number of fetuses, confirm fetal viability, and to determine gestational age. Having established that 5 days is insufficient, we propose that the minimum duration required to train ultrasound-naive midwives to competency is 10 days. Our completed program therefore consists of one and one-half days of didactic teaching, followed by 8 and one-half days of supervised hands on practical training, where trainees are assessed on their skills. This package has subsequently been successfully implemented across 6 sites in Malawi, where 28 midwives have achieved competency. By describing the processes involved in our cross-continental collaboration, we explain how unexpected challenges helped shape and improve our program, demonstrating the value of pre-implementation piloting and a pragmatic and adaptive approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)728-734
JournalJournal of Midwifery & Women's Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Ultrasound
  • Training
  • Pregnancy
  • Malawi
  • Midwives


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