HaSET MCH Research Fellowship

HaSET (“happiness” in Amharic) Maternal and Child Health Research Program is a collaborative effort between the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, and St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC). Through evidence-based proposal generation and standard research methodology, research generated by fellows under HaSET will have the potential to significantly impact the current policy guidelines for national MNCH programs and practices. Through the Maternal and Child Health Research Fellowship Program, early and mid-career professionals can pursue research in priority maternal, neonatal, and child health (MNCH) topics, generate high-quality evidence for decision-making, and inform national policy and program implementation guidelines. HaSET is focused on understanding and identifying the causes of maternal and child morbidity and mortality and based on this knowledge, will develop interventions and intervention packages to improve health outcomes. Data on the incidence, prevalence, and causes of morbidity and mortality among pregnant women and young children are largely unknown in settings like Ethiopia. Priority setting for policies, programs, and research to prevent and manage diseases requires up-to-date and accurate health data and information. Reliable estimates on the magnitude of childhood and pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality are essential for the development of appropriate health policies. Such data are also needed to implement health interventions to prevent maternal and child deaths and morbidities worldwide each year. We are committed to improving maternal and child health in under-served populations by applying different epidemiological methods to discover and deliver evidence-based interventions through on-the-job training for the next generation of researchers. This includes conducting studies to understand the mechanisms of exposures to diseases such as maternal infections/colonization and nutrition during pregnancy and on birth outcomes, postnatal period, and subsequent neonatal and child health. We plan to train postdoctoral researchers and doctoral and master’s students at Harvard and local collaborative institutions. In partnership with local institutions in Ethiopia, and will provide financial support and technical scientific coaching and mentorship. We look forward to working alongside our graduates to advance the health of mothers and children in Ethiopia and across the globe. Vision MNCH Research Fellowship Program lay a foundation for the steps in the innovation and discovery cycle from research question design to research implementation and use of research products for decision-making. Mission Design and develop a new research and innovation framework to advance better health and well-being for mothers and children through a quality and standard research implementation that will identify concrete and systemic challenges and propose operationally feasible solutions that are accessible to all people including the most vulnerable population of the country. The MNCH Research Fellowship Program The MNCH Research Fellowship Program comprises post-doctoral academics and MNCH implementation fellows. Post-doctoral fellows are candidates who hold doctoral degrees and will commit to a full-time one-to-two-year fellowship program with HaSET. Implementation fellows are candidates who are preferably professionals currently working on MNCH and related programs in either policy design and development or policy implementing institutions, such as: Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) or Regional Health Bureaus (RHBs). These positions are not expected to be full-time but will allocate 20 % of their time/week dedicated to the fellowship program. After the first cycle and once the fellowship program is well established, the program is planning to add a pre-doctoral research fellow as well. Postdoctoral fellows are paired with implementation fellows to ensure research questions are derived from the existing policy gaps and program implementation challenges and are targeted to mitigate those challenges in the end. Pairing postdoctoral fellows with implementation fellows facilitate collaborative learning, where the postdoctoral fellows take the lead on research design while implementation fellows take the lead in translating research products into policy guideline. This also fosters the culture of research collaboration between MNCH program implementers and academics in university hospitals and health science colleges. Goals The HaSET MNCH Fellowship Program fosters a culture of evidence-based policy formulation and good clinical practice and use of evidence for decision making and has the following goals:
  • Creates an environment conducive for faculty members and public health leaders to work collaboratively through MNCH research and translation of evidence to policy
  • Ensures the development of engaged and productive public health professionals
  • Establishes a national research hub and center of excellence by connecting regional health bureaus with medical and public health institutions for future collaborative research work and long-term, sustainable MNCH programming to enhance retention and motivation of the health workforce
  • Develops a cohort of MNCH researchers in Ethiopia to lead priority research studies, translate evidence to policy through mentorship, and
Fellowship program deliverables We expect the research fellows to have mastered the following competencies: conducting narrative (i.e., a non-systematic comprehensive and objective analysis of the current knowledge on a MNCH and related topic) and systematic literature reviews; critically evaluating the quality of the existing evidence using different qualitative tools or quantitative meta-analyses; formulating research questions and developing initial concept notes based on policy and implementation gaps and describing the motivation for these questions and the methods to answer them; designing and developing a study proposal and outlining detailed study protocols; developing tools for primary data collection in the field and monitoring data quality; computer programming for data management and statistical analyses; writing peer-reviewed publications and research grants; dissemination of research results and advancing advocacy and communication for translating research into policy guidance; and coordinating research implementation between academic and public health institutions. Standard and quality assurance The program applies a stepwise method to ensure that all standard and quality assurance mechanisms are put in place and are rolled out at different stages of program implementation to produce high-level professionals and quality researchers who can conduct standard and quality research in MNCH and MNCH-related fields that can easily be translated to policy and practice. The HaSET MNCH Research Fellowship program comprises nine learning modules designed to incorporate and fulfill the core competencies that are essential for the fellowship. The module syllabus outlines specific learning objectives, how those objectives are achieved, learning materials and requirements, and deliverables for the fellows to successfully complete the module.