Maternal and Child Health doctoral profile - Smisha Agarwal
Smisha Agarwal, MPH, MBA, BDS
Program Initiated: 2013
Primary Advisor: Siân Curtis, PhD
Research Interests: monitoring and evaluation, mHealth, health service delivery, primary healthcare
Dissertation Research: the role of community health workers in Bangladesh, India and Ethiopia, in promoting improvements in antenatal care and skilled birth attendance among pregnant women.
Honors/Awards: Carolina Population Center Predoctoral Traineeship (2014-present); FHI360-UNC Research Fellowship (2014-2015); Triangle Global Health Consortium Emerging Leader Award Finalist
Bio: Dr. Agarwal’s research career began with a broad focus on evaluation of programs aimed at health systems strengthening for maternal and child health. During her master’s program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, she consulted with the WHO Tropical Disease Research Group on health systems strengthening (HSS) to disseminate current evidence on what works in HSS. Shortly after, she moved to Jamkhed in rural India to support a community-based organization in digitizing four decades of community-based health data. During this time, Dr. Agarwal founded Global Health Bridge, and piloted a mobile-based system aimed at circumventing delays in data digitization and use, and improving quality of maternal health care. The system guided community health workers through a voice-based menu to use their cell-phones to enter pertinent pregnancy related information. Since 2012, she has provided technical support in M&E to numerous mHealth projects including USAID’s MAMA in Bangladesh, MomConnect in South Africa, JSI’s cStock in Malawi, and GSMA’s mNutrition program. While at UNC, Smisha has continued to develop expertise in mHealth through a fellowship at FHI360, and in impact evaluation through a number of health service delivery research projects at MEASURE Evaluation with her advisor, Dr. Curtis. Recent projects have involved the evaluation of a family planning mobile job-aid for community health workers in Tanzania, impact of franchise-based health services on maternal healthcare in Bangladesh, and assessment of challenges in health facility quality of data on co-infected HIV-TB patients in Ukraine.