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Student Research: Evaluating a new way to improve care for newborns and children in Rwanda

Oct 25, 2017 |

Celestin Hategeka has been involved in keeping children healthy in Rwanda since he was seven years old.

Travelling with his ‘community mobilizer’ mother to check on children in their community, Celestin credits her with fostering his interest in this field. He worked as a clinician in Rwanda and is now a doctoral student at the School of Population and Public Health, supervised by Associate Professor Michael Law.

Celestin Hategeka

Current PhD student Celestin Hategeka

“I wanted to solve the problems in my community. I didn’t want to wait to finish my medical training before I could contribute to my community.”
Current PhD student Celestin Hategeka

Dr. Hategeka’s research will evaluate the Emergency, Triage, Assessment and Treatment PLUS (ETAT+) admission care program, which is in place in select areas of Rwanda.

During his time as a doctor in Rwanda, there were no specialists or supervisors in smaller hospitals, Dr. Hategeka said. “A lot of people said it would be good to increase competence in dealing with emergency situations.”

ETAT+ is a five-day training course that teaches health workers best practices for recognizing and managing the most common medical causes of hospital admission for children in East Africa. It aims to improve this emergency care in the initial 24 to 48 hours of hospitalization, to reduce the rate of death for children under five in Rwanda.

This is a particularly vulnerable population, Dr. Hategeka said, at greater risk of death within the first few days when very ill, but presenting with preventable conditions such as dehydration.

“My project will evaluate whether ETAT+ is working, how we can help it work better, and how much money should be invested to make it cost-effective before scaling it up across the country.”
Current PhD student Celestin Hategeka

Other projects were imported from high income countries without adapting them for the local context, Dr. Hategeka said, whereas ETAT+ was developed in Kenya and introduced as a possible option for district hospitals. He hopes his research will show whether the system is making a difference, how it is being implemented, and how barriers to implementation can be addressed.

“This means ultimately children’s lives are saved, by ensuring good emergency care and systems are in place.”
Current PhD student Celestin Hategeka

Dr. Hategeka’s advice to students considering similar research is to get to know people who work in specific areas of a given project, in order to better enable access to data, and to make sure research findings are translated into practice. “Involve stakeholders so they believe your results and use them.”

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