Timely antenatal care for women and newborns in rural Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Research Opportunity
Masters by Research, Honours
Number of Honour Places Available
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Group Leader Email Number Webpage
Dr Chris Morgan chris.morgan@burnet.edu.au +61392822110 Personal web page
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Michelle Scoullar and Alyce Wilson alyce.wilson@burnet.edu.au -

Project Details

Timely antenatal care is essential to optimise pregnancy outcomes by ensuring good nutrition and management of infections and other complications during pregnancy. In resource-constrained settings such as PNG women often present late in pregnancy, missing crucial opportunities for health care. Researching timeliness of antenatal care requires accurate determination of gestational age at the time of presentation, which is rarely straightforward in such settings lacking imaging equipment and ultrasound skills. Determination of gestation is also important to identify likely preterm birth, crucial given preterm birth complications are the leading cause of under-5 child mortality globally.

This project explores the use of last menstrual period and fundal height, which have been validated as tools for estimating proxies of gestational age in the absence of ultrasound services, to determine the range of gestations at which women present for antenatal care in rural PNG.  This uses data from the Burnet-led Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies research program: a unique dataset collected from a prospective observational cohort study of 700 mothers in rural PNG from first antenatal care to 12 months after childbirth. The associations between women presenting early in pregnancy, compared with those who present late, will allow us to understand how to improve community education programs. Documenting gestations will also allow identification of infants born prematurely and thus at higher risk of death.

This project would allow a student to gain experience with quantitative and qualitative data analysis tailored to international health development usages. A student could also work alongside clinician researchers from within PNG in a partnership to ensure findings are contextualised and applied to PNG’s health service improvement needs. This project would also help build the knowledge and evidence base to influence current health guidelines, protocols and policies for antenatal and neonatal care. The findings of this analysis would strengthen calls to action to improve the accuracy of the measurement of gestational age in order to promote better pregnancy care among women and improve the survival of preterm babies in PNG.

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine, Women's Health

Research Opportunities

Masters by Research, Honours
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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