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The EGALITE study

Project summary

With forced migration at an all-time high, research with pregnant women and mothers with a refugee background is a necessary step in promoting perinatal health equity within our society.

Compared to native populations in high-income countries, women with a refugee background are affected by higher rates of pregnancy complications and unfavorable birth outcomes. Even in the Netherlands, newborns’ chances of a safe and healthy future differ at birth. The EGALITE research project aims to identify factors that impact these perinatal health disparities across populations with different refugee backgrounds in the Dutch context. Care professionals, the social domain and women with lived experience themselves will be actively involved to guide the realization of a tailored ‘toolkit’ aimed at birth care for women with a refugee background.

With the objective of “joining hands in research on perinatal care for refugees in the Netherlands”, the EGALITE project will comprise three phases of action-directed research:

In phase 1 (2021-2022), we will evaluate the current structure, processes and outcomes of birth care for asylum seekers and refugees. People who provide and receive this type of care will be invited to share their (care) experiences. Besides qualitative studies, we will conduct a large-scale retrospective analysis through matching national registry data on asylum status and perinatal outcomes. Moreover, new data on the level of care, policy and social factors which may impact perinatal health inequities among the study groups will be collected. The organization and intersectoral collaboration will be mapped, and the implementation of a national guideline on birth care for asylum seekers will be assessed.

In phase 2 (2022), findings from the evaluation phase will be translated into a ‘toolkit’, aimed at strengthening birth care for asylum seekers and status holders in the Netherlands. Principles of ‘action research’ will guide the development of this toolkit to ensure close engagement with target groups.

In phase 3 (2023), the toolkit will be pilot-tested on a local level, leading to recommendations for further dissemination.

Contact: J. Tankink (PhD candidate): /


The EGALITE project aims to contribute to reducing health inequalities between pregnant women with a refugee background and native women in the Netherlands.


  • Video on the EGALITE project;
  • Pitch at the NTVG symposium “Mind Matters” 2021;
  • Manuscript of the first study on childbirths and the prevalence of risk factors for adverse perinatal outcomes among women in Dutch asylum seeking centers.



  • Advisory committee (EGALITE project group) with members of interdisciplinary and interuniversity backgrounds, among others:
      • Prof. Dr. Maria van den Muijsenbergh (Radboud UMC, Pharos), general practioner and professor of health disparities and person centered integrated primary care;
      • Dr. Annelies Mesman, epidemiologist focusing on public health for asylum seekers at the Netherlands Netherlands Association for Community Health Services (GGD GHOR);
      • Drs. Bahar Goodarzi, midwife, teacher and researcher at the Midwifery Academy/department of Midwifery Sciences, VU Amsterdam.

    See this overview of the core team and complete project group.

Principal Investigator:

More detailed information

Principal Investigator:

Project coordinator: 

Prof. Arie Franx

Dr. Hanneke de Graaf

Role Erasmus MC:



Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Project website:

Funding Agency:



Julia Tankink (PhD candidate) | /