Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality
Project Timeline: March 2016 to March 2020
Situation: Rural and remote areas lack access to basic health care essential for mother and child survival
Significant progress has been made around the world in reducing the number of women who die in pregnancy or childbirth – the rate dropped globally by 43% between 2000 and 2015. Yet, in many communities in sub-Saharan Africa, the maternal and newborn mortality rates continue to be unacceptably high.
- 550 women in sub-Saharan Africa continue to die every day from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth (compared to 5 in developed countries).
- 985,000 newborns in Africa died in 2015 alone.
Mothers and newborns in remote, rural and fragile communities are at greatest risk because they lack access to basic, life-saving health care and everyday infrastructure, such as clean water and sanitation, so important for healthy living.
Action: Working in partnership to reduce mother and newborn deaths in rural or remote areas
We are bringing together Canadian and African expertise to tackle key contributors to poor health, including:
- poor access to family planning and other sexual and reproductive health services;
- lack of clean water;
- inadequate sanitation;
- shortage of trained health workers;
- gaps in information for parents about basic child health;
- malnutrition and under nutrition;
- overcrowded and poorly equipped health facilities;
- lack of systems to track vital health data; and,
- gender inequality
Year Two Highlights
- Trained 820 health care staff working at health facilities to help improve the quality of care for women and children, covering topics such as: pre- and post-natal care, family planning, prevention of the transmission of HIV from mother to child, and managing complications of pregnancy and delivery. The training also focused on sanitation and hygiene to improve health.
- Trained 548 community health workers on reproductive, newborn and child health as well as best practices in sanitation and hygiene. Community health workers are essential as they are the first contact for families and are vital for both preventing illness and ensuring early treatment.
- Provided education on nutrition to 577 mothers. Topics included breastfeeding, the importance of Vitamin A and other micronutrients for growing children and using local food to prepare nutritious meals.
- Dug boreholes at seven health care facilities to enable access to clean water and proper sanitation
Mearem Dawud, midwifery student, Ethiopia
In the Afar region of Ethiopia, the project is supporting 16 young women to attend a three-year training program to become midwives. Mearem Dawud is one of the students.
Afar is a rural area with pastoralist (nomadic) communities. In these types of areas, well-trained midwives are essential for ensuring women have access to quality health care during pregnancy and delivery.
“Afari girls are afraid of getting health services, because there is a lack of female health workers and because they are afraid of taking health services in the presence of males. Also, many girls have gone through Female Genital Mutilation [FGM, also known as Female Genital Cutting or FGC] and thus they become afraid of going for health services. So, I am hopeful that I can help girls by providing health services myself. I am also hopeful that I can help to change attitudes in my community on harmful traditional practices [such as FGM/C] by facilitating dialogue in my community.”
-- Mearem Dawud