From Ghana to the Global Health Consortium: A Blum Grant Recipient Tackles Infant and Maternal Mortality in Ghana's Volta Region

Jerry Nutor at a local  hospital in the Volta  Region, Ghana.
Jerry Nutor at a local hospital in the Volta Region, Ghana.

For nursing student Jerry Nutor, the Blum Center’s Graduate Awards Program – Poverty Alleviation through Sustainable Solutions - created a means to do research on child and maternal mortality and in the process, impact regional health policy in Ghana. In April of 2015, Nutor traveled along with colleagues from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing to Ghana where they conducted surveys and facilitated health education workshops on preventing maternal and child mortality. Ghana faces high infant and maternal mortality rates with 350 maternal deaths occurring out of every 100,000 cases and under 5 years of age, 78 deaths per 1000 live births according to the UN Human Development Report. With funding from the Blum Center Poverty Alleviation through Sustainable Solutions (PASS) Grant, Nutor was able to travel to the Volta Region in southwestern Ghana and spent six weeks developing a framework for analyzing the major factors contributing to maternal and child mortality in the region.

Nutor and his colleagues worked on two major projects in the Volta region. They first conducted surveys of mothers and health workers in prenatal through postnatal care in the Volta region. This was done in partnership with the Volta Regional Health Directorate which was planning on introducing a new treatment to address umbilical cord hazards during the birthing process. The survey was designed to collect information on current knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding care of the newborns’ umbilical cords to help determine the most effective means of introducing the new treatment into households in Volta. Despite facing challenges with transportation and a time constraint of six weeks, Nutor conducted interviews with 108 mothers, 70 health workers which included trained midwives, registered nurses, and community health nurses in 12 hospitals, health centers and clinics.

Guy teaching in Ghana
Nutor hosting a health education workshop for community members.

In addition to survey collection, Nutor also engaged with the community through holding multiple health education workshops that focused on spreading awareness of personal health best practices and infant/maternal mortality prevention methods. He worked with various members of the Volta community from training midwives and nurses at a hospital to facilitating youth group discussions at local churches. Throughout the experience, Nutor realized how crucial these workshops were in equipping health workers and mothers with information on safer birthing and personal hygiene practices.

Nutor’s research in the Volta Region gave him a picture of the health landscape in Ghana that guides his intellectual pursuits today. From the data collected in his surveys, Nutor notes that he, “learned about the primary health care needs of rural folks and women in Ghana.” He also hopes to expand his community education efforts to more regions in Ghana for his next project.

Nutor is now pursuing his doctorate in Nursing at Drexel University, but he is still engaged in what he accomplished in Ghana with support from the Blum Center PASS Grant. This past spring, he presented the findings from his time in the Volta Region at the annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference in San Francisco. The conference provides an opportunity for public health scholars like Nutor to present abstracts from their research and features speakers from top global health institutions such as the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. In addition, Nutor’s research was published in the Annals of Global Health-2016, a leading journal on global health.

The support Nutor received from the Blum Center enabled him to realize his passion for global health and meet needs in the Volta community. It is also a testament to how the UC Davis Blum Center continues to enable students to become agents of change in the war against global poverty.

Teaching seminar
At a maternal health workshop in Volta.

About The Blum Center for Developing Economies

Integrating education and experience, the Blum Center for Developing Economies prepares and sponsors UC Davis students to thrive in tackling projects—ones that partner students with communities for mutually-beneficial collaborations—in more than 50 countries around the world.

As a part of Global Affairs at UC Davis, the Blum Center aims to inspire global curiosity, understanding, and engagement.