Doctoral Defence of Abdullah Alosaimi on August 31st

Maternal and child health are the least equitable health care in most low- and middle-income countries. In Yemen, improving maternal and child health remains a major public health challenge. While maternal and child health (MCH) indicators are showing trends of improvement, the improvements have been limited. In his doctoral dissertation, Abdullah Alosaimi formulated maternal socioeconomic status indexes and examined their association with several MCH outcomes and health service use indicators in rural Yemen.

The study analysed data from a broad household cross-sectional survey conducted among 15–49-year-old women in Yemen in 2008–2009. The survey was funded and organised by UNICEF. By subjecting several household attributes to a principal component analysis, Abdullah Alosaimi developed three socioeconomic indexes – wealth, educational level and quality of housing – to describe the situation of Yemeni women in reproductive age.

Socioeconomic statuses were clearly related to substantial variations in the prevalence of spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, neonatal and infant mortality, and attending MCH care, such as adequate antenatal care, unmet contraceptive needs, use of contraceptives, and having a skilled birth attendant. The results clearly show that women in lower income and educational strata are in a greater need of well-organised health services and behaviour change interventions, which would improve MCH outcomes in these settings.

In the study, a strong association between socioeconomic indexes and maternal mortality was expected. However, no strong association was found. Maternal mortality does not appear to be influenced by socioeconomic factors so much, but it may be influenced by standards of obstetric care. Thus, providing high-quality maternal care may eventually be the key contributor to a reduction of maternal mortality rather than the socioeconomic status of mothers.

Alosaimi also studied the occurrence of female genital cutting (FGC) in the Yemeni context and found that the results reflect significant inequality among population groups as well as a high general prevalence rate of up to 48% in older women, while the prevalence among daughters was 34%. FGC thus appears to be less common among young women, which also demonstrates the positive developments in the country and social change especially among younger women.

The approaches and findings of the dissertation will assist to develop suitable policies that will mitigate the negative influences of socioeconomic status on MCH outcomes and service use. Furthermore, related to the findings on FGC and the remaining high prevalence, an appropriate policy should capitalise on these findings and invest in the education of girls and the empowerment of women to reduce FGC-related behaviours and practices.

The doctoral dissertation of Master of Science (public health) Abdullah Alosaimi in the field of epidemiology, titled An Epidemiological Study of Women and Children’s Health in Yemen with Special Reference to Socioeconomic Determinants: Subnational household survey conducted in Yemen, will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Tampere University at 12 o’clock on Wednesday, 31 August 2022. The public defence will be held in the Visakorpi auditorium of the Arvo building, (address: Arvo Ylpön katu 34, Tampere). The Opponent will be Docent Reija Klemetti from the University of Helsinki while Professor Pekka Nuorti from Tampere University will be the Custos.

The event can also be viewed via a remote connection.

The dissertation is available online at

Photo: Garisah Ashomili