Every Master of Public Health student has to complete a practicum project. For mine, I knew I wanted to go abroad again, and the project requires me to work more hands-on in the health work than my Peru visit allowed.
In April of last year (yes, before my trip to Peru) the Child Legacy International team made a visit to Ohio State to talk about their wellness center and other services provided to rural Malawians. They shared their plans to open a new maternal ward and illustrated the need–Malawi has high maternal and infant mortality rates, even compared to their neighboring Sub-Saharan countries.
I got in touch with their Ohio State partner and asked how I could contribute to their work for my practicum. The stars aligned then, and their biggest need (that I could help with) happened to be related to maternal health. They needed a maternal death audit system to assesses their services and the care provided to mothers and their newborns throughout their catchment area of 20,000 people across 68 villages.
So it’s been a year working on and off (though more ‘on’ recently) to develop a surveillance system that can help us learn more about what happens when a mother dies from childbirth or when her neonate doesn’t survive. This data is collected routinely in western health facilities and used frequently to improve care practices and identify risks. Collecting and analyzing this information for the MWC catchment area will allow the quality of care to improve for their community as well.
I’m looking forward to sharing more with you as the project approaches and then will post stories from the field. I leave in early July for my 4-week trip.