Dr Helen Nabwera

Senior Clinical Lecturer

Helen has a medical degree from the University of Nottingham and undertook her specialist training in Paediatrics in the East and West Midlands deaneries of the UK.

Helen is also an honorary consultant in paediatric infectious diseases at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool.

She became a member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (MRCPCH) in 2005. She has a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from LSTM (Distinction-2005).

She was awarded a Medical Research Council (MRC) Career Development Fellowship (for a PhD) from 2012-2015. She spent most of that time Her fellowship was based at MRC Unit, The Gambia’s rural field station in Keneba, where she managed a rural primary health care facility and undertook child nutrition research that led to a PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2018). She is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Prior to joining LSTM, Helen worked as a locum General Paediatrician at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children in London.

Research Interests

Helen’s research focuses on newborn health, child nutrition and infections. This involves designing and testing innovative packages of interventions that incorporate infant and early child nutrition to address the high burden of morbidity and mortality among preterm/low birth weight infants in sub-Saharan Africa.

The overarching theme that has come from her work both in Kenya and The Gambia is that maternal socio-economic status and support networks within the family (particularly from the husband) and at a community and national level have a great influence on the nutritional outcomes of their children.

This has a lot of implications for advocacy and policy planning to improve the health and nutritional outcomes of children in low- and middle-income countries.


Helen is the Lead for the Sexual and Reproductive Health pathway of the Masters in International Public Health and teaches on Masters modules (TROP 924, 938, 910, 974 ), Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene and Diploma in Tropical Nursing. She also mentors colleagues undertaking the professional certificate in supporting learning.

Memberships and affiliations

  • UK General Medical Council (2001- present)
  • Member (2005 - present): Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • Member (2006 - present): Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
  • Member (2019 - present): UK Neonatal Nutrition Network
  • Member (2016 - present): Kenya Paediatric Association

Helen is a co-founder and member of the Neonatal Nutrition Network. I am also a member of the Kisumu Interest Group and the Community Health Systems group.

Research grants

  • £5000 Royal Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene small grants programme 2020 in partnership with National Institute of Health Research (NIHR): Developing a novel approach to improving postnatal breastfeeding support for mothers of low birth weight infants in rural Kenyan hospitals September 2020 to August 2021. (Role: Principal Investigator)
  • £99,878.62 Seed-funding application to the MRC-UKRI Global Maternal & Neonatal Health Call: The feasibility and acceptability of an early warning score system for preterm and low-birth weight infants in Kenya March 2020 to February 2021. (Role: Co-investigator)
  • £385,451 NIHR 19/21 Mechanisms of Action of Health Interventions call, Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme: MR-PRo-adrenomedullin (MR-proADM) and ImmunoXpert Evaluation of procalcitonin-guided antibiotic January 2020 to June 2021. (Role: Co-investigator) Previous grants:
  • £44,618 Director’s Catalyst Fund, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine: A community-based package of interventions for low birth weight infants: a feasibility study June 2018 to August 2019. (Role: Principal investigator)
  • £218,002 Medical Research Council, UK Confidence in Global Nutrition and Health Research Institutional pump-priming award, MC_PC_MR/R019789/1: Improving the survival, growth and development of low birth weight newborns through better nutrition March 2018 to February 2019. (Role: Co-investigator)
  • £199,650.40 Medical Research Council, UK Mental Health institutional pump-priming award, MC-PC_R019897_1: Neurodevelopmental disorders in LMIC settings- creation of a network and analysis of diagnostic abilities tools to identify children early. February 2018 to February 2019. (Role: Co-investigator)
  • £176,532 Medical Research Council, research grant proposal (Public Health Intervention Development Scheme) MR/N027744/1: Menstrual hygiene and school absenteeism among adolescent girls in rural Gambian schools: Preparatory phase for a randomized controlled trial RCT March 2016 to April 2018. (Role: Co-principal investigator)
  • £20,000 Sir Ratanji Dalal Research Scholarship, Royal College of Surgeons of England: Perceptions and nutritional consequences of different modes of infant feeding among HIV-exposed and infected children in Kilifi, Kenya September 2010 to August 2011. (Role: Principal investigator)

Other affiliations

Visiting Associate Professor, Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University, East Africa (August 2020 to date)

Visiting Senior Lecturer, Department of Women and Children’s Health, King’s College London, UK (July 2020 to date)

Membership (Professional Societies) • UK General Medical Council 

Member (2005 - present): Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health • Member (2006 - present): Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Member (2019 - present): UK Neonatal Nutrition Network • Member (2016 - present): Kenya Paediatric Association

Selected publications

  • Akindolire AE, Talbert AW, Sinha I et al on behalf of the Neonatal Nutrition Network (NeoNuNet) Evidence that informs feeding practices in very low birthweight infants in sub-Saharan Africa: An overview of systematic reviews. BMJ Paediatr Open. 2020, 4: e000724

    Nabwera HM, Wright JL, Patil M et al. “Sometimes you are forced to play God…”: a qualitative study of healthcare worker experiences of using continuous positive airway pressure in newborn care in Kenya. BMJ Open. 2020; 10(8): e034668

    Read S, Jibril A, Tongo O et al on behalf of the Neonatal Nutrition Network. Parents’ perceptions of core outcomes in neonatal research in two Nigerian neonatal units. BMJ Paediatr Open 2020; 4(1): e000669.

    Shah V, Nabwera HM, Sosseh F et al. A rite of passage: a mixed methodology study about knowledge, perceptions and practices of menstrual hygiene management in rural Gambia. BMC Public Health. 2019;19(1):277.

    Husseini M, Darboe MK, Moore SE et al. Thresholds of socio-economic and environmental conditions necessary to escape from childhood malnutrition: a natural experiment in rural Gambia. BMC Med. 2018;16(1):199. BMC Public Health.

    Nabwera HM, Moore SE, Mwangome MK et al. The influence of maternal psychosocial circumstances and physical environment on the risk of severe wasting in rural Gambian infants: a mixed methods approach. BMC Public Health. 2018,18(1):109.

    Burrell A, Kerac M, Nabwera H. Monitoring and discharging children being treated for severe acute malnutrition using mid upper arm circumference: secondary data analysis from rural Gambia. Int Health. 2017, 9(4):226-233.

    Nabwera HM, Jepkosgei J, Muraya KW et al. What influences decisions for HIV-exposed infants in rural Kenya? Int Breastfeed J. 2017, 12:31.

    Nabwera HM, Fulford AJ, Moore SE et al. Growth faltering persists in rural Gambian children despite four decades of interventions. Lancet Glob Health. 2017, 5(2): e208-e216.

    Kwambana-Adams B, Darboe S, Nabwera H et al. Salmonella Infections in The Gambia, 2005-2015. Clin Infect Dis. 2015, 61 Suppl 4: S354-62.

    Prentice AM, Nabwera H, Kwambana B et al. Microbes and the malnourished child. Sci Trans Med. 2013, 5(180):180fs11.

    Hassan AS, Sakwa EM, Nabwera HM et al. Dynamics and constraints of early infant diagnosis of HIV infection in rural Kenya AIDS Behav. 2012, 16(1): 5-12.