DR. ELARD KOCH, A SCIENTIST WHOSE WORK IS CREATING A LEGACY

DR. ELARD KOCH, A SCIENTIST WHOSE WORK IS CREATING LEGACY

By Ceci Aguilar

While I was reading the WYA Maternal Health White Paper, I realized that many of the studies done in Chile on abortion and the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) were done by Dr. Elard Koch.

Dr. Koch is an important molecular epidemiology researcher and the director of the Department of Family Health at the University of Chile. Dr. Koch went to Queretaro, Mexico last year and I had the opportunity to attend his conference.

As with many other researchers, the information Dr. Koch gave was very objective and was presented with the help of complicated graphs. But, behind all those numbers, charts and tables, the results of one of his investigations called “Women´s Education Level, Maternal Health Facilities, Abortion Legislation and Maternal Deaths:  a Natural experiment in Chile from 1957 to 2007,” were extremely impressive.

During the conference, I developed a deep appreciation for the work done by Dr. Koch. With the use of statistics, he talked about the positive impact of the results of his studies, demonstrating that decriminalizing abortion is not related to the decrease of the MMR. The most important conclusion was that maternal mortality reduction is due to access to good infrastructure in a health care system, which includes high levels of education for women. Also, he noted that Article 119 of Chile´s Health Code, which prohibits abortion, helped in the reduction of maternal mortality by 93.8%. One of the reasons why Chile has one of the lowest rates of maternal mortality in Latin America is because of this legislation, which was adopted in 1989.

Dr. Koch has published numerous scientific articles and has collaborated with important scientific magazines such as the Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, and the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine.

By the end of the conference, I realized that Dr. Koch had much more than numbers on his slides, he was able to impact not only his working area, but his entire country. When he was giving a conference in my country, Mexico, I understood that his effort had crossed the border. I can say for certain that he is creating a great legacy.