White Rose Multidisciplinary Network on Infertility in Low and Middle Income Countries (HEARTFELT)

Infertility is a major yet overlooked health and social care issue, affecting an estimated 48.5 million couples worldwide. Rates of infertility are significantly higher in Low-and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), particularly in Africa. Despite the large burden of infertility – especially for women, who are often blamed and stigmatised – policy attention and fertility care provision remain limited in these settings. Our research in The Gambia illustrates the need and timely opportunity to include infertility in health agendas. 

The network includes researchers in global health, clinical/biomedical sciences, nursing/midwifery and social sciences, representatives of Government and non-governmental organisations across three African partner countries, Ghana, The Gambia and Zimbabwe. It will enable co-production of research priorities, funding bids and projects, and research capacity-strengthening in this important yet neglected area of global reproductive health among Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in the UK, Belgium and in participating LMICs. 

Aims

This project aims to establish a White Rose-led multidisciplinary network on infertility in LMICs to prepare/submit a joint bid to the NIHR Global Health Research Group (GHRG) call expected in mid-May 2022 and to other UK/EU/international funding opportunities including Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF). 

Objectives

  1. Develop a White Rose-led multidisciplinary network on infertility in LMICs;
  2. Co-produce priority research questions with high policy relevance for improved fertility care policy and practice according to local gaps/needs and interests, and jointly develop an intervention research proposal for submission to the NIHR GHRG and other calls;
  3. Enhance technical and professional skills among ECRs in the UK and LMICs through systematic reviewing (including training) and research prioritisation that will provide data to underpin future proposals, paper and grant writing, working across disciplinary boundaries and internationalisation;
  4. Ensure financial viability and sustainability via external grant income.

Lead Academics at Lead Institution:  
Dr Julie Balen (School of Health and Related Research, ScHARR, University of Sheffield)

Lead Academics at other two universities:
Noreen Mdege, (Department of Health Sciences, University of York)
Karen Throsby, (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds)

Other staff

Sheffield: 
Allan Pacey, Academic Unit of Reproductive Medicine
Anna Afferri, ScHARR (ECR collaborator) 
Fiona Campbell, ScHARR (ECR collaborator) 
David Benbow, School of Law (ECR collaborator) 

York:
Omara Dogar, Department of Health Sciences (ECR collaborator) 
Rachel Alsop, Centre for Women’s Studies 

Leeds:
Linda McGowan, School of Healthcare

Other partners:
Belgium: 
Susan Dierickx, Research Centre Gender, Diversity and Intersectionality, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (ECR collaborator) 
The Gambia: 
Sainey Ceesay, Founding Director, Safe Haven, Banjul 
Mustapha Bittaye, Director of Health Services, Gambian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Banjul 
Haddijatou Allen, Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia (ECR collaborator) 
Ghana:  
Rosemond Akpene Hiadzi, Lecturer in Medical Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Ghana 
Zimbabwe:  
Mugove Madziyire, Lecturer and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Zimbabwe 
Tinotenda Taruvinga, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Zimbabwe (ECR collaborator) 




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