2013 Martha May Eliot Award

Eugene Declercq, PhD, MBA, MS, received the Martha May Eliot Award, which honors exceptional achievements in the field of maternal and child health.

He is professor and assistant dean for doctoral education at the Boston University School of Public Health and Boston University School of Medicine. His research has covered such issues as childbirth and maternal and infant health, with more than 70 publications on topics including maternity care, cesarean sections, midwifery care, home births, maternal morbidity and preterm birth.

Declercq’s “Listening to Mothers” surveys have provided ground-breaking information on mothers’ beliefs and attitudes toward their pregnancy and maternity care experiences and have given important evidence that the current high rate of C-sections in the United States is not primarily due to mothers’ requests.

At Boston University, Declercq has been a leader in educating and mentoring a new generation of maternal and child health professionals. He has received numerous awards such as the Hanna Porn Award from the Massachusetts chapter of the American College of Nurse-Midwives for service to the advancement of midwifery as a profession, the school-wide Norman Scotch Award for outstanding teaching from the Boston University School of Public Health and the Christ the Server Award from Lazarus House Ministries for distinguished community service.

His countless publications and presentations have explored such issues as planned and unplanned home births, international health reform, breastfeeding and birth outcomes and trends.

Declercq served as president of the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health and was the driving force in the establishment in Lawrence, Mass., of a dental clinic for people who lacked insurance coverage.

“Gene is a walking example of an interdisciplinary approach to public health,” said Jonathan Kotch, MD, MPH, FAAP, professor of children’s environmental health at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health “His wise counsel has been sought by public health agencies and professionals in Massachusetts, the nation and around the world.”

“His career has markedly improved the health of mothers and children, especially around birthing experiences, and helped to assure a well-trained MCH workforce for the future and a better scientific knowledge base upon which they can act,” said Milton Kotelchuck, PhD, MPH, the 2010 Martha May Eliot Awardee and senior scientist in maternal and child health at Massachusetts General Hospital. “He is a multi-talented and outstanding MCH leader, whose contributions have substantially improved the health and health services for mothers and children.”