Berhanu Damise & Ketema Degefa, CHAMPS Ethiopia
Caroline Ackley, University of Sussex
In Eastern Hararghe, Ethiopia, verbal autopsy (VA) has been used as the primary method of determining causes of under-5 child death where the definitive cause of the death is still unknown due to lack of reliable data (HDSS, 2016). Therefore, providing accurate and trustworthy data for public health policy makers on causes of child death is important. The Child Health and Mortality Prevention (CHAMPS) study aims to introduce minimally invasive tissue sampling, or MITS as a technique to accurately and reliably determine causes of under-5 child death. This paper assesses the Harar and Kersa community’s understandings of child death and suggests approaches to sensitization of biomedical interventions in community health research. The study finds that the community is willing to know the causes of child death through MITS; however socio-cultural and religious factors play a role in community perceptions of what is killing their children. For example, for many death is considered as the will of God, and for young children especially families pray that their child will ‘be Shafa’; or waiting for their parents at the gates of heaven to facilitate their entry and a family reunification. Thus, the study suggests that there is a potential misalignment between community understandings of cause of death and biomedical causes learned through analysis of MITS samples. To overcome this challenge the paper suggests several community engagement approaches that have been designed to raise awareness about CHAMPS objectives and activities, and facilitate alignment between CHAMPS and community priorities. The paper concludes that activities that focus on building trust, showing respect, and exhibiting empathy are most effective in facilitating community health interventions.
Berhanu Damise received his first degree of teaching English Language from Arba Minch University and second degree in sociology from Haramaya University, Ethiopia. Currently, he works as the social science researcher in Child Health And Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) project at Haramaya University, Ethiopia. He is interested in understanding social sciences perspectives and impacts in health systems.