Isabelle Uny is a French social scientist living in Scotland, based at IIHD since her MSc undertaken in 2006. Her doctoral research explores the changing role of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in supporting maternal health in Malawi.
Maternal mortality in Malawi is very high and has been partly attributed to the lack of a skilled medical professional at more than 30% of deliveries. Malawi's case is particularly interesting given the historically contested role of TBAs: Though TBAs were trained for decades in Malawi, in 2007 the Government redefined their role which banned them from conducting deliveries and saw them as referring agents. Although this ban was lifted in 2010, the latest Presidential Safe Motherhood Initiative launched in September 2012 reasserted the change in roles for TBAs.
However, the position of TBAs is complicated by the lack of proximate facilities available to pregnant women and a continued lack of skilled birth attendants.
Isa is currently in Malawi undertaking qualitative fieldwork to explore this topic from the point of view of TBAs themselves, skilled birth attendants, women, men and other major stakeholders. Using a grounded theory approach, she will conduct interviews with both TBAs and Skilled Birth Attendants, and Focus Group Discussions with other stakeholders, in the areas of Nkhoma, Mchinji and Malosa or Mulanje.
Maternity Ward in Malawi © I Uny
Isa was successful in obtaining a Santander Research Grant of £5000 to support this important work.
Isa was also successful in obtaining a QMU Scholarship to undertake her PhD research.