Global Health Priorities
New PhD

Maternal and neonatal mortality in rural south Ethiopia

Yaliso Yaya Balla has succesfully defended his PhD thesis 'Maternal and neonatal mortality in rural south Ethiopia: Comparing mortality measurements and assessing obstetric care.' The Global Health Priorities research group warmly congratulates.

the candidate and the first oponent
Yaliso Yaya and his first oponent, associate professor Torbjørn Moe Eggebø from NTNU.

Main content

In his thesis Yaya has measured and compared maternal and neonatal mortality using different community- and facility based methods. As part of the project a birth registry has been developed, and this registry is still up and running may years after the data collection for the study is finished. Yaya concludes that community-based measurement methods like birth registries and household services provide good maternal mortality rate (MMR) data, if a functional system is at place.


A high maternal mortality in many low income countries is one of the biggest health challenges in the 21th century. The Millenium Development Goals have helped reducing the mortality, but it is still a long way to go. 99% of all maternal deaths are in low income countries and more than 90% of them are preventable with solutions currently available. 50% of all maternal deaths occur in only six countries: Ethiopia, Nigeria, DRC Congo, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. MMR is concidered to be the greatest of all health related disparities between high and low income countries; it ranges from 957 deaths per 100 000 live births in South Sudan to 2 deaths per 100 000 live births in Iceland.


 There is a critical lack of data to guide policy and interventions to reduce maternal deaths in low income countries. In high income countries there are good quality routine vital registrations at national levels, but this does not excist in Ethiopia. Therefore, reliable measures to estimate MMR is important. Yayas work is extremely important. His findings provides knowledge that can be used to giude policy and interventions in a setting  where such data is very needed.


Yayas main supervisor have been professor Bernt Lindtjørn from the Centre for International Health, University of Bergen. Co-supervisor was professor Ole Frithjof Norheim from the Global Health Priorities research group at the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen.


The PhD comittee:
1. oponent: Associate Professor Torbjørn Moe Eggebø, NTNU, Norway

2. opponent:   Professor Mesganaw Afework, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia 

3. member of the Committee: 
Associate Professor Ingvild Fossgard Sandøy, University of Bergen, Norway

The defense was led by Professor Bente Elisabeth Moen.


Press release in norwegian.