IPAL encourages and facilitates research in studies of technological innovations and their benefit to society- especially for those living in poverty. Its RA’s Amna Batool and Sameea Ashraf, who are also MS CS’s students at ITU, defended their final MS theses, which specifically addressed issues within Maternal and Child Health (MCH), in front of an academic panel at ITU.
Sameea Ashraf defended her final dissertation on Wednesday, 25th March. Her research explores methods to Improve child health practices using technological interventions, which would in turn help in reducing the alarming rate of child mortality. The study is motivated by the fact that every eleventh child in Pakistan dies before reaching his/her fifth birthday and mostly due to preventable diseases, with most of them belonging to poverty-stricken families. Moreover, two-thirds of these deaths could be prevented by introducing interventions such as Sameea’s, where health workers and doctors would be able to access a digitized version of the WHO’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) manual through a smartphone application, to better assess, diagnose and treat children. Her research was co-supervised by Kentaro Toyama (Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan School), along with Samia Razaq (Director, IPAL at Information Technology University, Punjab)
Similarly, Amna Batool is also a student at ITU and an RA at IPAL who presented her final dissertation based on her research into maternal health. Specifically, her research work sought to investigate technological interventions that could potentially reduce maternal mortality in Pakistan. Pakistan, where an estimated 30,000 women die annually due to ante and post-natal complications, has the 3rd highest maternal mortality rate in South Asia. After conducting extensive surveys of doctors, gynecologists and expectant mothers as well as producing a detailed literature review, unawareness was found to be an underlying cause of the elevated maternal mortality rates in developing countries like Pakistan. The primary purpose of Amna’s study was to create a technological solution to build awareness on antenatal care amongst expectant mothers, by firstly registering users with contact information and then disseminating essential health information via SMS (for literate users) and call-outs for lesser-literate users.
Amna was also supervised by Samia Razaq & Kentaro Toyama
The presentations of their findings were well received, with both students given commendations by the panel, supervisors and their fellow peers. The Evaluation Committee members included: Kentaro Toyama, Samia Razaq Khan, Dr. Saeed Ul Hassan and Dr. Mohsen Ali.
Maternal and child health remains to be a focal point for IPAL, as the impact of technological interventions in health care have proven to be successful in other developing countries. IPAL hopes to implement such interventions in the near future, as they have recently secured grant funding for a pilot project to help increase vaccination uptake and retention in the districts of Sahiwal and Sheikhupura, Punjab. For more information about IPAL’s projects in MCH, please visit the Link.