The Anthropological Approaches to Understanding Child and Maternal Mortality, and Recommendations for Improving Health Outcomes Symposium invited social science researchers to share their evidence-based insights on maternal and child health in Ethiopia. They were also encouraged to provide recommendations on ways to improve health outcomes.
The symposium aimed to understand child and maternal mortality across all of Ethiopia and each paper presented gave regional insight into this complex issue. The need for the symposium was driven by the high maternal and child mortality rates in the communities surrounding the host university, Haramaya University.
In nearby Kersa District the under-5 mortality rate is estimated at 80-120 deaths per 1000 live births (KHDSS, 2015) and the maternal mortality rate is 324 deaths per 100,000 live births (Assefa, 2018). Assefa (2018) suggests that the district’s high maternal mortality rates are caused by health concerns during pregnancy, and qualitative research presented at the symposium indicates that there is low or late antenatal care uptake amongst pregnant women (Tadesse and Taye, 2019).
Additional ethnographic research presented at the symposium suggests that high mortality rates are partly due to a pattern of low health seeking behaviour, general untrustworthiness and suspicion of biomedical health interventions, and minimal health infrastructure at government health posts and centres (Degefa and Tadesse, 2019). Given this high burden rate the symposium was vital in providing anthropological approaches to understanding demographic data.
Yenenesh Tilahun holds a MSW (Masters of Social Work) and BA in Foreign Languages and Literature. She works in CHAMPS Ethiopia as community facilitator and data analyst and is responsible for the radio program. She is a journalist and social science researcher.