Blantyre, Malawi


In Malawi the study site is based in Blantyre, which has a population of approximately one million (2015 estimate) inhabitants. It is Malawi's center of commerce and the main manufacturing hub. The annual rate of urban population growth was estimated at 4.1% in 2014, arising from a combination of high total fertility in the population together with in-migration of families from rural areas in search of employment. The national adolescent fertility rate is 137 per 1,000. 42% of urban residents are aged under 15, compared with 50% in rural areas. 37% of urban households have electricity, 93% have access to an improved source of drinking water but just under half of urban households have access to improved sanitation facilities. Children in urban areas are only slightly less at risk of stunting (41% of under fives) relative to rural residents (48%). Blantyre has the highest prevalence of HIV in Malawi.

Research Team

Our collaborating partner in Blantyre is the University of Malawi College of Medicine.

William Stones, Principal Investigator

Professor William Stones holds a joint appointment in the Department of Public Health and the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Malawi College of Medicine. He trained in Obstetrics & Gynaecology and undertook clinical practice and reproductive health research via the University of Southampton. He was at the University of St Andrews, UK from 2013 to 2016. Before this he chaired the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Aga Khan University, Nairobi where he established a new MMed programme for specialist training as well as undertaking research in maternal health. Professor Stones is a member and past chair of the Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health Committee of FIGO, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Professor Stones was the site-PI for Phase 1 of the GEAS in Malawi and is currently leading Phase 2 planning with support from UNICEF. Contact Dr. Stones.

Gertrude Chapotera, Head of Department, Public Health

Dr. Gertrude Chapotera is a Senior Lecturer at University of Malawi College of Medicine (COM) in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine. As faculty member, she enjoys teaching public health and epidemiology. She has extensive public health experience, having previously worked in the Ministry of Health as well as at the World Health Organization in Malawi.

She is passionate about promoting the career development of others and supporting women’s contribution to national development. She leads a mentorship programme at COM and has co-established a national forum for women in infectious disease and health research in Malawi in 2015. She led on a European funded (EDCTP) capacity building grant to develop a clinical trial management and support infrastructure at the Research Support Centre of COM 2009 to 2012. Through this grant, she established the Clinical Trials Unit of the Research Support Centre at COM with responsibilities in training, clinical trial monitoring and research support to faculty. She is a trainer for Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and Research Ethics.

Her research work has prioritized adolescent health and pregnancy issues. In addition to her work with the GEAS, this has included an understanding into the seasonal patterns of malaria and health-related consequences among adolescent females in rural Malawi. She is co-investigator on a clinical trial assessing safety and efficacy of artemisinin-based combination treatments for African pregnant women with malaria (PREGACT); and another clinical trial assessing dose justification and tolerability (ADJusT) of antimalarial drugs in young children.

She is an advocate for evidence-based health care practice (EBHC) in African settings through her participation in a collaboration for Evidence-Based Healthcare and Public Health in Africa (CEBHA+). She is also a trainer for EBHC. She is a fellow on a leadership development programme supported by the Malaria Capacity Development Consortium, which focuses on improving leadership skills in research management and learning programmes development.

Effie Chipeta, Scientific Operations Manager, Centre for Reproductive Health (CRH)

CRH is an interdisciplinary and cross departmental grouping within the Malawi College of Medicine that undertakes research and implementation testing in the reproductive health field. CRH researchers have social science, biomedical, clinical and public health backgrounds. As well as hosting the adolescent work linked to GEAS the Centre has a number of projects relating to interventions to promote reproductive health and safety in pregnancy and childbirth.

Dr Bernadette O’Hare

Dr O’Hare is a UK trained Paediatrician with a special interest in child and adolescent HIV treatment and care. She leads the Paediatric HIV clinical service at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre. Her research interests include ‘upstream drivers’ of disease and poverty including health and human rights. As well as her appointment in the Department of Paediatrics at the Malawi College of Medicine Dr O’Hare has an appointment in the School of Medicine, University of St Andrews where she teaches on the Masters in Global Health Implementation program. 

Trinitas Mhango, Field Coordinator

Trinitas has a passion to improve the lives of young people and has taken a special interest in interventions to increase access to menstrual hygiene products in Malawi. She has facilitated the Phase 1 testing of research tools and piloting of questionnaires and is currently focusing on developing the next phase of activities in partnership with local primary schools.