2017 started well for IMMANA Round 2 Fellow Tadesse Alemu Zerfu, as he was one of four recipients presented with the 16th Tore Godal Prize, an award given to young Ethiopian reseachers writing on topics related to infectious diseases.
Taddese with his award, standing on the far right hand side
The Prize was developed by Dr. Tore Godal, a scientist who conducted extensive research at the Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI) in Ethiopia and who served as its Director from 1970-1973. Taddese's work has focused on maternal and child health, for which it is well recognized that under nutrition can lead to significant mortality, and that in particular adequate nutrition during pregnancy is associated with significant improvements in both maternal and child outcomes. Unfortunately, diets of mothers during pregnancy in resource limited countries are often inadequate, and despite recommendations of changes in diet as well as nutrient supplementation by the WHO, dietary changes are often not practiced and hence dietary needs remain inadequate. In his study, Tadesse utilized a simple alternative approach as a potential means to encourage mothers in the future to change their diets appropriately. He conducted a study in rural Arsi zone, and interviewed a large number of mothers at several times during their pregnancy to determine their usual dietary intake. He classified them into those with high and low dietary scores, and then evaluated pregnancy complications at term such as anemia—the presence of low amounts of oxygen carrying blood—as well complication of newborns, such as low birth weight which is associated with higher risk of infant morbidity and mortality. He found that the mothers who had high score diets which included animal-source foods, fruits and vegetables had significantly fewer complications than those mothers with low score diets. Importantly, there were no differences in family income in the two groups, and interestingly, both groups had identical uptake of the minimal recommended folic and iron tablets and associated blood levels of these nutrients, suggesting that differences in outcomes were not related to these nutrients. This novel study, which was published internationally, offers a promising and powerful approach to encourage mothers to simply adapt practices used by other mothers of equivalent economic means in the same region in order to improve pregnancy outcomes and the livelihood of their children.
Congratulations to Tadesse for receiving the 16th Annual Tore Godal Prize!
For more information about Taddese's IMMANA Fellowship research visit his IMMANA profile