Kersa HDSS in Hopes for New CHAMPS Network Project


Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) Network team met with Haramaya University’s President, Vice-President and Directors on 3rd Nov. 2016 to discuss the new project that works on the tracking and prevention of child health and mortality. The project so far has selected six sites in the world with high mortality rate of children under-5 and would work on identifying main areas of focus, tracking child mortality and mortality prevention. Kersa/Harar HDSS including Hiwot Fana Referal Hospital is among the six sites.


 CHAMPS Team together with HU Staff

The main idea of the Network is to share collected pathology data from the different sites, hopefully in real-time, with the Central Storage Facility using telepathology to analyze, share and notify the different stakeholders of the result. The specimens are expected to be stored in local storage facilities; some would be sent to the Central Storage Facility at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After the data have been analyzed, the panel members such as family members and clinicians who have been taking care of the child or children would be notified of the cause of death.


Discussion at President’s Office with HU staff and CHAMPS team

In the discussion session held at the President’s Office, questions were raised and the team gave their feedback. Among the raised concerns one was the integration and linkage of the project with the learning-teaching process in the University. The team responded pointing out that the project is a ‘robust project’ with a multidisciplinary dimension, and thesis and dissertation topics would be generated from it. New techniques in the labs would also be opportunities for students to learn and be involved in; one major and obvious benefit for students would be the sequence diagnostics that is expected to be implemented in this project.

An added feature to this project is its inclination to work with social behavioral scientists. The behavioral science personnel would help in getting to the community members to talk to, to inform, to teach and to create awareness, in general, to test the waters, so that CHAMPS would be able to come in and do the scientific part. As every community has its own experiences, understanding the community and designing and adapting the intervention and prevention procedures that reflect and do not offend/anger the community is crucial.

The CHAMPS Network is being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has a goal to achieve a much reduced child mortality rate by 2030. For this particular project the Foundation looked for countries and sites that need support in their works on child mortality. As many countries in Africa have an already established international foundation, organization and/or institution, the Foundation looked for an institution or site that has either a strong HDS site or clinic or microbiology laboratories. Kersa HDSS was selected for its strong and well-established work in tracking and documentation of child mortality for children under-5.  Having a CHAMPS site would also open up the doors for further funding from national and international institutions. It has been identified that this project could put Haramaya University on the map in the child mortality prevention works and could also help the University to become a Center of Excellence not only in the Eastern part of the country or even Ethiopia, but also internationally. Here, a very good example mentioned by the CHAMPS team was the experience in Kenya where a village that started out as a small DSS site became the largest DSS site in the country and has more than 100 scientists and a number of post graduate students based in it.


The CHAMPS team also visited the pediatric wing of Hiwot Fana Specialized University Hospital and its laboratories, and the Kersa Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) site to fully grasp what the University has and works on, and to identify the gaps and shortage of lab equipment, trained personnel and the overall performance of the University on child morbidity and mortality prevention.

By Abenezer Estifanos


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