The Effective Care Research Unit's research specializes in reproductive health outcomes with focus on hypertensive disorders, postpartum haemorrhage, intrapartum asphyxia, unexplained intrauterine death, unplanned pregnancy and PMTCT. As an accredited World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaboration Centre in Reproductive Health Research Synthesis, the unit trains and conducts quality Cochrane reviews and randomized trials on reproductive health issue in low income settings.

ECRU was set up by Professor Justus Hofmeyr in 1988. The emphasis was on evaluation and innovation of clinical interventions appropriate to low-income country circumstances, mainly by means of randomised clinical trials, and writing of systematic reviews of effectiveness of interventions.



Since July 1988 the research focus of the unit director and co-workers, has been:

  1. Clinical research to answer questions of relevance to reproductive health in low-income countries, mainly by means of randomised clinical trials.  Collaborative research has received priority.  The unit has established an international reputation for relevant clinical research.
  2. Systematic reviews of evidence of the effectiveness of reproductive health care. The director has contributed to the Oxford Database of Perinatal Trials, now part of the Cochrane Collaboration, since 1983, and has been an editor of the Pregnancy and Childbirth Group of the Cochrane Collaboration since 1996.
  3. Extension of the systematic review work for relevance and accessibility to health workers in low-income countries, as an editor of the World Health Organisation electronic database, the Reproductive Health Library.
  4. Research capacity development through research traineeships and contributing to Cochrane systematic review workshops.

In July 2000 the unit moved to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Cecilia Makiwane and Frere Hospitals, East London.  The objectives of this move were:

  1. To ensure that the research of the Unit remains relevant to the needs of health workers and users in the most resource-poor parts of the country.
  2. To decentralise research activity  and clinical expertise and ensure capacity-building in terms of research and clinical skills in the Eastern Cape region.

The Effective Care Research Unit is a formal research unit of the University of Fort Hare in East London in the Eastern Cape and The University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Gauteng.