Recent Projects

Shirley Deng: Water Quality, Access, Treatment and Their Association with Diarrheal Disease in Children: A Mixed-methods Study in Santa Elena, Ecuador

This summer, I, with a team of three other Yale Students, partnered with a private non-profit clinic, Futuro Valdivia, to examine the association between water, quality, accessibility, treatment, and diarrhea outcomes in children between 1 and 5 years old. Futuro Valdivia has served on the Southern coast of Ecuador, in a rural area marked by poor health and sanitation infrastructure and limited access to health care. Because of that, there was very little information about child diarrhea prevalence, especially as it relates to water access, quality, and hygiene. Thus for 8 weeks, we proposed a mixed-methods study that included a quantitative survey, a water testing component, and qualitative interviews. Our goals for the summer were to survey between 200 and 250 mothers about their household drinking water, their hygiene practices, household sanitation facilities, and their child’s health. We also aimed to take 50 water samples of surveyed household to examine presence of e. coli in their drinking water and to interview between 15 and 20 mothers about their knowledge and perception of water quality and diarrhea in their household and community.

Talia Katz: Reflections from the Field: Pregnancy, Politics, and Social Support in Rwanda

During the summer of 2016, I spent two months conducting ethnographic fieldwork on maternal healthcare for my senior thesis in Yale’s Department of Anthropology. This rich experience afforded me the opportunity to synthesize my prior thematic and methodological training. Before embarking on this trip, I spent many semesters studying topics related to maternal healthcare, resilience, social support, African studies, and ethnographic methods. Therefore, I felt as though I had a strong academic background through which I could contextualize all that I observed. The primary goal of this mixed methods research was to ethnographically examine how factors such as government policy, national history, health care systems, family structure, and gender relations affect pregnancy experiences. It was guided by two research objectives: (1) to understand women and their family members’ experiences of pregnancy, and (2) to identify how women navigate the pre-natal care system. By employing an ethnographic lens to understand the everyday complexities and politics of prenatal health care, this research aimed to offer a more holistic presentation of Rwanda’s internationally recognized maternal health care statistics. While the main purpose of the trip was to collect data for my senior thesis, I also hoped to develop basic proficiency in Kinyarwanda, make meaningful relationships with a wide variety of Rwandese citizens, and travel throughout the country in order to observe and participate in a broad continuum of social experiences. As a student of anthropology, a commitment to community engagement and people-centered research was at the core of my work. 

Aalyia Sadruddin: Pregnancy and Social Support in Rwanda

The primary goal of this mixed methods research was to ethnographically examine how factors such as government policy, national history, health care systems, family structure, and gender relations affect pregnancy experiences. It was guided by two research objectives: (1) to understand women and their family members’ experiences of pregnancy, and (2) to identify how women navigate the pre-natal care system. By employing an ethnographic lens to understand the everyday complexities and politics of prenatal health care, this research aimed to offer a more holistic presentation of Rwanda’s internationally recognized maternal health care statistics. Its ethnographic approach offered a more grounded understanding about the milestones reported in development and policy reports. Conducting an ethnographic study laid an important foundation to address larger public health lessons, identify areas for Rwandan maternal health care policy improvement, and shed light on the relationship between social support and positive health care experiences and birth outcomes. Such research, which lies at the intersection of public health and anthropology, offered an innovative, family-centered approach to understanding and improving a global health challenge of this magnitude.