series event

Preterm births in a COVID-19 world: Science, Systems and Social impact

The LSHTM-Charité Global Health Lecture Series brings together leading scientists from the UK, Germany and further afield to present cutting-edge research on pressing global health issues and to discuss the implications of their work for policy and practice.

A research nurse screens a preterm baby for eligibility to the eKMC clinical trial, at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, Banjul
A research nurse screens a preterm baby for eligibility to the eKMC clinical trial, at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, Banjul

On World Prematurity Day, Prof Joy Lawn (Professor of Maternal Reproductive and Child Health Epidemiology and Director of MARCH Centre at LSHTM), Dr Suman Rao (Professor of Neonatology, St. Johns' Medical College, India), Dr Queen Dube (Head of Pediatrics, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Malawi), Silke Mader (Chairwoman of the Executive Board and Co-Founder of EFCNI and GLANCE) and Helga Fogstad (Executive Director of Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health) will focus on the issue preterm births during the COVID-19 pandemic, exploring the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on deliveries and neonatal health around the world. During the event, speakers will share insights into how the current pandemic is impacting on families, will explore approaches to mitigating against preterm births, and will discuss policy tensions and implementation challenges that exist.

Dr Anshu Banerjee, WHO Director of Department of Maternal, New Born, Child and Adolescent Health and Aging, will chair the event and will provide reflections on the policy context for maternal and child health in the current climate.


From left to right: photo of speakers consisting of Dr Anshu Banerjee, Prof Joy Lawn, Dr Suman Rao, Dr Queen Dube, Silke Mader and Helga Fogstad
Prof Joy Lawn

Joy Lawn is Professor of Maternal Reproductive and Child Health Epidemiology and Director of MARCH Centre, LSHTM. Joy is an African-born, British-trained pediatrician and perinatal epidemiologist with 30 years’ experience including: clinical care, epidemiological burden estimates, design and evaluation of maternal, newborn and childcare services at scale, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Her MPH was from Emory, Atlanta, USA, whilst at CDC, and her PhD at Institute of Child Health, London. She and her research team work on large, multi-country studies on newborn health, stillbirths and child development worldwide. She is a champion for women’s research leadership, and is one of the few women nominated to membership of both UK Academy of Medical Sciences and USA National Academy of Medicine.

Silke Mader

Silke Mader has been a passionate and influential advocate for maternal and newborn health for over 20 years. As a former patient with HELLP syndrome and mother of preterm babies at week 25 (twin boy survived at 515 grams, twin girl deceased), she built on all of her personal experience to improve care for parents, preterm babies and sick newborns. This led to establishing EFCNI – European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants in 2008 as Chairwoman and founding member. One of the major achievements of the foundation was the establishment of World Prematurity Day, the development as well as the implementation of The European Standards of Care for Newborn Health founding of the Global Alliance for Newborn Care (GLANCE).

Dr Suman Rao

Suman Rao is Professor of Neonatology at St. John’s Medical College in Bangalore, India and a consultant in the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Aging at the WHO. She has worked for over 20 years to improve outcomes of the small and sick newborns and has done pioneering research in Kangaroo mother care and developmentally supportive care in India. She is a national trainer for Neonatal resuscitation and has led the initiatives to mentor Special Newborn Care Units and reduce neonatal mortality. She is keen on low cost innovations and has helped to develop low cost remote monitoring of newborns, therapeutic hypothermia devices and CPAP devices. She teaches medical and nursing students and supports their budding research interests.

Dr Queen Dube

Dr. Queen Dube is head of pediatrics at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, the largest tertiary hospital in Malawi. Dr. Dube has worked with the Ministry of Health, Saving Newborn Lives, WHO, Pediatrics and Child Health association of Malawi and UNICEF to improve the quality of newborn care in district hospitals and to improve the quality of care for the small and sick newborn in Malawi. She has led several research studies on the small and sick newborn including- neonatal sepsis-aetiology and long term outcome, immediate KMC, KMC innovation, KMC follow up and point of care diagnostics for sick and small newborns. Queen is a co-PI on NEST360, a multi-institutional initiative to halve inpatient neonatal mortality in Africa.

Dr Anshu Banerjee

Dr Anshu Banerjee is currently the WHO Director for the Department of  Maternal, New born, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing. He was earlier the Director (Global Coordination) in the Office of the Assistant Director-General in Family, Women’s and Children’s Health, WHO as well as the WHO Country Representative in Albania and Sudan. While based in Geneva with the Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) Geneva, he was seconded to UNMEER in Accra for the Ebola crisis.  Dr Banerjee holds a PhD in tuberculosis control from the University of Amsterdam, a Master’s in Public Health for Developing Countries from the LSHTM, and a medical degree from the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Helga Fogstad

Helga Fogstad is the Executive Director, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH). Ms Fogstad comes with a wealth of experience in RMNCAH related issues. She has 30 years of working experience in public health and has worked many years in developing countries at sub-national and national levels, as well as at international level within multilateral and bilateral agencies. She has also lived and worked many years in Africa. She is a health economist and has co-authored several publications related to public health.

Helga has been central in providing technical guidance on Norway’s health, education, research and development portfolio, both through the bilateral programs, as well as global initiatives and funds supported by Norway. She has also chaired several global processes aimed at forging consensus and increasing global mobilization for RMNCAH, including chairing and overseeing the development of the first UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, as well as chaired the Policy Coordinating Committee of the Special Research Program on Human Reproductive Health (HRP). Ms Fogstad was the Director of the Department of Global Health, Education and Research at the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, a post she held since 2014.She has extensive experience in forging partnerships and consensus building, and has been a member of numerous Boards and Committees.


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Please note that the time listed is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Collaborators’ logo consisting of: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants, Global Alliance for Newborn Care, NEST 360, Healthy Newborn Network, World Health Organisation and The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health


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