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Midwife‐Led Ultrasound Scanning to Date Pregnancy in Malawi: Development of a Novel Training Program

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


Alexandra Viner

Gladys Membe‐Gadama

Sonia Whyte

Doris Kayambo

Martha Masamba

Brian Magowan

Rebecca M. Reynolds

Sarah J. Stock

Bridget Freyne

Luis Gadama


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. 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 3 fundamental components of early antenatal ultrasound scanning: (1) to identify the number of fetuses, (2) to confirm fetal viability, and (3) 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 in which 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 preimplementation piloting and a pragmatic and adaptive approach.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 16, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 17, 2022
Publication Date 2022-12
Deposit Date Jan 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 4, 2023
Journal Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health
Print ISSN 1526-9523
Electronic ISSN 1542-2011
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 67
Issue 6
Pages 728-734
Keywords Malawi, midwives, pregnancy, training, ultrasound
Public URL


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