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Sub-Saharan Africa

Current projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as details of RCOG International Representative Committees and Liaison Groups in the region.

You’ll also find information about volunteering opportunities, the work other people are doing overseas and how to get in touch with them.

Welcome from Rhona Hughes, International Council Represenative for Sub-Saharan Africa

Dear all,

I would like to welcome you to the Sub-Saharan Africa international membership webpage.

As International Council Rep for Sub-Saharan Africa I am dedicated to showcasing the amazing work that takes place in the region; let it be our Essential Gynae Skills course in Nigeria, the Best Practice Papers in Kenya or the Leading Safe Choices team’s work in South Africa and Tanzania.

I hope that you will feel inspired to learn more about and support these projects and join the RCOG in its efforts to work towards UN Sustainable Development Goals 3 & 5.

I aim to visit as many countries in my region as my time allows next to being a consultant obstetrician at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. I am passionate about charity and raising awareness of initiatives such as Each Baby Counts, which is a national clinical improvement programme that aims to reduce the number of babies who die or are left severely disabled as a result of incidents during labour. Consequently, I undertook the Prudential RideLondon race to help raise funds and awareness of this issue affecting families not just in Britain, but globally.

I look forward to working together with my region and listening to members’ needs and interests!

With regards,



Sudan O&G Society Annual Conference
22-25 February 2019
Khartoum, Sudan


International Representative Committees (IRCs)

  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • Sudan
  • Zimbabwe


Liaison Groups (LGs)

  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • Sudan


Top women’s health concerns and challenges, identified by our committees:

  • Maternal Mortality (MM)
  • Family Planning/Contraception
  • Adolescent sexual and reproductive health
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Caesarean Section (CS) providers
  • Gender based violence (GBV)

Maternal mortality (MM) was one of the most pressing concerns IRCs voiced, as more than half of all maternal deaths in the world occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, 80% of these deaths are from preventable causes. This issue is particularly prevalent in rural areas where women do not have access to adequate care. Women die or are left with life threatening debilitations, as a result of untreated complications, such as severe bleeding, infections, unsafe abortion, etc.

Family Planning/Contraception is a major issue in Sub-Saharan Africa as many women do not have access to these services due to issues such as travel distance, unequipped medical centres, stigma, education of methods, etc. Access must be expanded to Family Planning and the quality improved.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Identification and treatment of this disease is very poor and has contributed to high maternal mortality numbers.

Lack of qualified providers for CS is an additional contributor to the sub-Saharan Africa MM rate. This procedure is vital to avert major obstetric complications that lead to maternal, neonatal, and/or fetal death. Limited access to health care, information on CS and a lack of equipment are additional factors that impede rise of CS providers.

Adolescent sexual and reproductive health is an area that is rarely addressed, despite the predominant challenges girls face such as early pregnancy, STDs, HIV and difficulties accessing family planning services. Young people often do not receive support from their community and healthcare workers can oftentimes present further barriers to overcome these challenges.

Chairs cited GBV as a major health concern for girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa, as the region lacks medical professionals who are trained in caring for survivors of GBV, both medically and psychologically.



Elsewhere on the site

Global health projects
Find out more about the RCOG’s global health projects and partnerships
Support our work
Find out how you can help support the RCOG’s work to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide