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Bringing maternal and infant mortality to light

By Sally Wolff King | Public Health | June 18, 2013

A video on the introduction of a simple, but clever solution for unsafe birthing problems in Uganda.

Before enrolling at Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH) last fall, Dean's Council Scholar Jacqueline Cutts founded SAFE (Safe Mothers, Safe Babies), a nonprofit organization in Uganda.

Her scholarship, supported by the RSPH Dean's Council — an advisory body of business and community leaders — to help cover tuition, has allowed her to continue studying the effect of electricity, especially the absence of it, on birth outcomes in Uganda. She installed "Solar Suitcases" in hospitals, including those with no electricity. Without the solar units, doctors often cannot see clearly enough to detect complications, perform urgent surgeries, identify and stop bleeding, and address other problems.

  Jacqueline Cutts
  Jacqueline Cutts, pictured with a newborn infant in Uganda.

Cutts is now analyzing data from her experiment to gauge impact. Her preliminary findings suggest that the installation of solar electricity led to a 35 percent increase in monthly delivery of babies.

An Idaho native who majored in political science at Vassar College, Cutts worked for four years with SAFE before applying to the Master of Public Health program at Rollins. She chose the RSPH because of its strong sense of community and mentoring.

"Roger Rochat, professor of global health, reached out to me when I was in the deciding phase," Cutts says. "I had the sense that he would provide professional mentoring. I would be more of a person here and part of a community and not just a number or a random face in a group of people. I also met students here who were interested in the same topics as I am. Rollins enables students to interact with professors as well as with students."

The Dean's Council Scholarship "has helped astronomically," Cutts says, to realize her goal of assisting people in developing countries. "It has been important to me to learn a skill and have it be meaningful."

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