Around the world, 6 million children die before their 5th birthday each year. Forty percent of these deaths occur in the neonatal period the first 28 days of life, mainly from infections, preterm birth complications, and intrapartum related complications. Additionally, 295,000 mothers die each year from complications of childbirth. In Ethiopia, 14,000 mothers die from complications during pregnancy, childbirth, or the post-partum period each year. Only 43% of women receive 4 or more antenatal care (ANC) visits, 48% deliver in a health facility, and 43% receive postnatal care (PNC) within 48 hours of delivery. Ethiopia is 1 of 10 countries accounting for more than half of global neonatal deaths with 80,000 newborn deaths each year. Ethiopia has significant need, as well as promising opportunities for impact, in the area of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH).
HaSET is focused on understanding the causes of morbidity and mortality and using this knowledge to develop interventions to improve health. Data on the incidence and causes of morbidity and mortality among pregnant women and children are largely unknown in settings like Ethiopia. Priority-setting for policies, programs and research to prevent diseases requires current and accurate health data. Reliable estimates on childhood and pregnancy related morbidity and mortality are essential for development of appropriate health policies. Such data are also needed for the implementation of health interventions to prevent maternal and child deaths and morbidities that occur worldwide each year.
Through HaSET, we are committed to improving maternal and child health in under-served populations by using epidemiologic methods to discover and deliver evidence-based interventions while at the same time training the next generation of researchers. This includes conducting studies to understand the mechanisms of exposures such as maternal infections/colonization and nutrition during pregnancy on birth outcomes and subsequent child health. We train postdoctoral researchers, doctoral and masters students at Harvard. In partnership with our colleagues in Ethiopia, we are developing the first pre-doctoral and post-doctoral MCH research fellowship in Ethiopia and will provide financial support and scientific mentoring. We look forward to working alongside our graduates to advance the health of mothers and children across the globe.