Centre for International Health
Joint degree PhD candidate

Alemselam Zebdewos Orsango: Researching amaranth potential to prevent anemia.

Alemselam Zebdewos’ study deals with child anemia, which is common childhood malnutrition and which includes diagnosed nutritional deficiency problems.

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Community Randomised Controlled Trial

Alemselam Zebdewos Orsango joined UiB’s joint PhD program with Hawassa University Ethiopia and the Center for International Health (CIH) a with a vision of augmenting public health science in  her homeland Ethiopia. Orsango’s PhD dissertation focuses on the role of amaranth grain in anemia. It is randomized placebo controlled trial, conducted at the community level. A group of 100 children are enrolled, and are evaluated to measure the impact of their diet supplementation with amaranth containing bread every day for six months. Her research was conducted in the community from March 2017 to September 2017 in the rural part of Hawassa city, Ethiopia.

Addressing anemia with amaranth

The study deals with the effect of amaranth grain on the treatment of child anemia. Amaranth grain has better levels of macro and micronutrients, especially iron. A supplement of this grain could be used to address widespread child anemia problems in rural Ethiopia instead other frequently used crops. This useful plant is widely grown in the research area, but it is considered as a weed rather than a food crop by the community. In Ethiopia, the prevalence of anemia in children under 5 years old is around 57%. It is a major public health problem. The most common cause of anemia in young children is due to low iron intake, since iron-rich foods are expensive.

Orsango is therefore hopeful that her study will encourage authorities to consider amaranth as a viable food supplement with potential to reduce anemia in children. The research will inform the public at large, policy makers and specialists academicians about an underutilized nutritious crop that has the potential to contribute to reducing the anemia problem in Ethiopia.


Prior to joining Centre for International Health’s joint PhD program with Hawassa University, Orsango secured her MsC in Applied Human Nutrition, a BsC degree on Public Health Officer, a diploma on Clinical Nursing, a diploma on High Level Teaching Methodology, and a certificate on Anesthesia nursing at her homeland college and universities.