Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maternal and Child Health

In January, students from the University of Washington conducted household surveys to establish baseline statistics on the overall health and well-being of the Community of Potters living in Bwiza. Back in the States, we were struck by the data they obtained. An exceedingly high number of child deaths were reported, that suggest a rate of child mortality between three to four times the national average for Rwanda.

A new project, led by volunteer Kate Doyle, is aimed at not only corroborating the data obtained in January, but also identifying the causes of morbidity and mortality for these children. Kate and Edith Musabwa, a Rwandan public health student, are utilizing the World Health Organization’s standard Verbal Autopsy Questionnaire to interview mothers in the village. By eliciting the signs and symptoms experienced by children prior to death, it will be possible for the project’s doctors to arrive at the underlying causes of death.

In the process of these interviews we are also obtaining a lot of important information on how women in the village perceive of health and illness and the health-seeking or –demoting behaviors they engage in. Together, this information will enable us to identify possible areas for intervention and design new tools for health education that can reduce the occurrence of needless child deaths.

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