Associated Press: Verbal autopsies used in push to better track global deaths (7) Social autopsies (8)

8 October, 2019


Thanks for bringing this for discussion. I have an example here of verbal autopsies used for healthcare issues associated with maternal deaths:

Please let me know if you have any questions. [*see note below]


Arachu Castro

Arachu Castro, PhD, MPH

Samuel Z. Stone Chair of Public Health in Latin America

Director, Collaborative Group for Health Equity in Latin America (CHELA)

President, Society for Medical Anthropology

Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences - International Health and Development Section

Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

1440 Canal Street, Suite 2220, Mail Code #8319 | New Orleans, LA 70112 USA | Tel. +1-504-988-7177 |

HIFA profile: Arachu Castro is Samuel Z. Stone Chair of Public Health in Latin America at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in the USA. Professional interests: Health equity research, women's health, health policy, Latin America and the Caribbean. acastro1 AT

[*Note from HIFA moderator (Neil PW): For the benefit of those who may not have immediate web access, here are the citation and abstract:

Citation: Arachu Castro. Witnessing Obstetric Violence during Fieldwork. Notes from Latin America

Health Hum Rights. 2019 Jun; 21(1): 103–111.


Violence against women in labor occurs frequently in Latin America, based on observations from my extensive ethnographic fieldwork in various Latin American countries. In this article, focused on Mexico and the Dominican Republic, I contextualize obstetric violence within the larger context of social exclusion and discrimination against women. I establish associations between maternal deaths and health care systems characterized by a lack of continuum of care, a lack of accountability toward women, and the withholding of care. I argue that clinical staff learn to operate within the structural limitations of health care systems by not assuming the responsibility of the continuum of care that each woman needs, and that this discharge of accountability is at the heart of how health professionals can navigate, tolerate, and perpetuate the structure of the system and, in so doing, create the breeding ground for obstetric violence to occur. Finally, I explain that although reporting on the suffering of women will not, on its own, prevent obstetric violence, increasing its visibility through research can contribute to human rights-based advocacy on behalf of women in labor, to the monitoring of human rights standards, and to the creation of accountability measures within health systems to prevent obstetric violence.]