A new course discussing maternal and child health issues will be offered Spring 2013.

GLHLTH 571: Introduction to Global Maternal and Child Health will focus on the current state of maternal health care, especially for mothers living in impoverished countries where many women do not have access to medical care. The class will be taught by assistant adjunct professor Eric Green, the recent winner of the Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge from the Gates Foundation for his project Baby Monitor.

Baby Monitor, a mobile application that Green developed for pregnant women with limited access to medical care, uses voice response technology to provide instant medical assessments and dispatch health workers if necessary. Green plans to bring an emphasis on applied learning to the class.

“We haven’t had a course in [this] and a lot of institutions do,” Green said. “It’s a big topic for scholars in improving maternal and child health. So it [makes] sense for Duke to offer this course.”

The class is structured like a graduate seminar, with fewer lectures and more focus on outside readings and student discussion. Class discussions will cover five main topics: data and statistics, key interventions during birth, new innovations such as Baby Monitor, health system challenges and policies of medical practices. The class will also include several case studies.

“[The class will] focus a lot on low income countries, and new innovations that are popping up,” Green said. “We’ll do maternal health first, and child health second.”

The class is open for registration to sophomores and above, as well as for graduate students in the science and global health field. It will give students a general overview of maternal and child care that covers a wide variety of topics, Green noted, adding that the class will prepare students for future courses in similar topics.

The most important part of education is having students who are “engaged and working on ‘real’ things,” rather than only studying hypothetical situations, Green said.

“Where I want students to dig in is their applied work during the semester,” Green said. “[The class has a] goal of having something ready for publication.”

By the end of the class, each graduate student taking it will have completed a final research paper that is publishable, and the undergraduate students have the opportunity to do so as well. These projects would be applicable to real-world problems, and students would have the option of submitting their work for publication.

“It could be great for students with interest in maternal or child health,” Green said. “It’s great for practitioners, great for researchers and great for people who are interested in policy.”

There has already been a large interest in Green’s course, especially among pre-med students interested in child health care.

“I want to be a neonatologist so that’s perfect for my field. There is no known cause of prematurity, so that class could look at how infrastructure plays a role in prematurity,” freshman Maurlia Upchurch said.

Freshman Lorena Garcia, who hopes to become a pediatrician, said that the class would give her insight into her future career as well. Understanding the relationship between a mother and child will help her deal with the difficult circumstances she may face as a doctor, Garcia noted.

Students also liked the idea of writing a research paper that could be published and reviewed for other researchers to see.

“It gives a voice to the women and children who don’t have the resources,” Upchurch said.