“A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”
As reported by the World Health Organization, 5.6 million children under the age five died in the year 2016, an amortized rate of over 15,000 children every day, 82 percent of which reside in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Despite this staggering statistic, there is limited research about how, when, where, and why these deaths occur, due in no small part to severe data scarcity throughout the developing world.
We are grateful for the opportunity to work on the Child Health and Mortality Prevention and Surveillance (CHAMPS) project, which aims to study this silent epidemic through the systematic surveillance of child deaths in villages throughout the world with the highest mortality prevalence. Our work is done in conjunction with the Western Kenya section of the Centers for Disease Control operating in Manyatta and Karemo, areas where the under-5 mortality rate has been as high as over one out of five.
Working together with our on-the-ground partners in human health, we have been constructing software to equip hospitals with the wherewithal to electronically collect clean data filtered through high levels of client-side and server-side validation, while also enjoying flexibility in the adjustment of workflows and questionnaires, robustness to adversarial internet conditions, and a technology stack built on open source. Through improved data collection and management, we hope our partners will be better able to infer the determinants of child death and design more precise interventions.
We sincerely wish for QED to serve a vehicle for calibrating new generations of engineering professionals, sensitizing them to problems of universal importance with hands-on experience, and helping youth realize the existence of interesting engineering careers off the beaten path, in pursuit of problems with the greatest potential impact to humankind.