Shegufta Shefa Sikder, MHS '10
PhD candidate, GDEC
Shefa Sikder is currently working on facility surveys to inform a large mHealth study in Bangladesh called mCARE. mCARE seeks to improve referral and coordination by compressing the time between crisis and care for obstetric and neonatal emergencies through the use of mobile technology. Her data collection focuses on the availability of obstetric services, such as C-sections and blood transfusions, at the most commonly visited public hospitals and private clinics in northwest rural Bangladesh. The findings will play a crucial role in implementing this innovative community-based study.
Shefa’s passion to improve access to maternal health services for women in rural Bangladesh initially drew her to the Department of International Health. One of the Department’s longest operating study sites, JiVitA, was a natural fit for her research interests. Based in rural northwest Bangladesh, JiVitA is testing the efficacy of nutrition interventions that seek to improve health and survival of mothers, infants and children in rural Bangladesh. The site has afforded her many opportunities to gain valuable research experience. For example, in 2009 she implemented a study at the JiVitA site to understand the social and cultural barriers that woman faced in seeking medical care for obstetric complications.
As a former master’s and current doctoral student in the Department, Shefa thinks it’s important for new and prospective students to identify their passions and recognize the value of faculty advisers. “Faculty with passions similar to your own can help you navigate the many course options at the School and point you to the most appropriate research opportunities.” She adds that while her faculty mentors and advisers have been more encouraging and inspiring than she could have imagined, her fellow students have also been an invaluable source of knowledge.
After finishing her dissertation, Shefa plans on continuing to combat the barriers that women face in accessing maternal services. As a Bangladeshi-American, she would like to work for organizations that help shape global maternal health policy and provide maternal services in rural areas of Bangladesh.