Professor of International Health at the Department of Public Health Sciences since 1996.
The main object of Staffan Bergström's research interest has been genital infections in pregnancy and their affect on pregnancy outcome. The antimicrobial properties of amniotic fluid have been of particular interest, in relation to intrauterine fetal death, low birth weight, puerperal endometritis, myometritis and intrauterine growth retardation. Other areas of research include the immunological and serological characteristics of preeclampsia and research into the application of methods of termination of pregnancy.
A major part of Staffan Bergström's current research activities revolves around the quality of medical work being carried out by non-physician clinicians, i.e. healthcare workers who lack formal medical training but who carry out some of the most advanced procedures in e.g. major surgery, obstetrics, gynaecology and traumatology/orthopaedics. These are referred to in Swedish as icke-läkare or "non-doctors" for the lack of a better term. The African countries studied in this research include Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania.
With regard to caesarean section and other more advanced surgery, Professor Bergström's research team has been able to demonstrate that around 90% of these more major surgical procedures at district hospital level are already being carried out by non-physician clinicians in Mozambique (by "técnicos de cirurgia"), in Malawi (by "clinical officers") and in Tanzania (by "assistant medical officers"). Not one of these types of "surgeon" has set foot in a medical faculty but, according to well documented research findings from Professor Bergström's team, they possess the skills needed to carry out most of the "major" operations at hospitals in these three countries. This has crucial implications for the availability of lifesaving surgery, particularly obstetric surgery for pregnant women in the rural areas of the poorest countries. It has been possible to demonstrate that after 7 years nearly 90% of these "non-doctors" remain at the peripheral hospitals in e.g. Mozambique, whereas the corresponding figure for doctors is 0%. They therefore have great significance from the health systems perspective regarding sustainability.