Every year around world, hundreds of thousands of women die during pregnancy or childbirth and more than 7.6 million children die before reaching the age of five. Many of these deaths can be prevented by proven and cost-effective nutritional support.
A new $2.2M program developed by the Centre for Global Public Health (CGPH) in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine will create and deliver maternal, newborn and child health nutritional programs for vulnerable families in Kenya by empowering local women to deliver programming in their communities. This project, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB), and the University of Manitoba brings together student researchers, international health experts, and non-government organizations to reduce the number of preventable maternal and child deaths.
The $1.7M in CIDA funding is part of the Muskoka Initiative Partnership Program for maternal, newborn and child health. This $75M program was championed by Canada at the 2010 Muskoka G8 Summit, created to strengthen and address issues in health service delivery, nutrition, and leading diseases that are killing mothers and their children around the world.
As part of this CGPH project, sixty women in the Taita Taveta district of Coastal province in Kenya will be trained as “link” workers, teaching them how to identify at-risk families and ensuring each has access to a network of services for nutritional and health care support.
“I congratulate the innovative team at the Centre for Global Public Health on their leadership of this new partnership that will save lives and improve living conditions for infants and mothers in Kenya,” said Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international).
“Good nutrition is critical for young children and mothers. This is an area where it is essential for hunger organizations like the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to work closely with health professionals,” said Jim Cornelius, executive director of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. “We are delighted to be collaborating with the Centre for Global Public Health to support the inclusion of nutrition as an integral part of this initiative.”
The Taita Taveta area was selected for this initiative because of high levels of poverty and food insecurity. The population is primarily rural with the lowest levels of literacy and the highest levels of food poverty in all of Kenya, both of which are risk factors for poor nutrition. Studies have shown a high number of children in this region die between the ages of 1 and 5 due to under-nutrition. Because of its rural location, the delivery of appropriate health care is further complicated. The nearest health facility is more than 10 km away.
James Blanchard, director of the CGPH; professor, departments of medical microbiology and community health sciences; and Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology and Global Public Health, will provide leadership while Drs. Lisa Avery and Maryanne Crockett will be the principal investigators for the program.
In another aspect of the project, the University of Manitoba’s Students for Development will also engage in international development activities in Canada and Kenya, focusing on building skills and enhancing awareness of nutrition and overall health in the community. This three year program will involve twelve students conducting fieldwork in Kenya.
Local partners in Kenya will include the University of Nairobi School of Public Health (UN), the Christian Reform World Relief Committee (CRWRC) and the Pwani Christian Community Services (PCCS) all of whom were involved in developing existing CGPH projects in Kenya.
For more information contact Ilana Simon, director of communications & marketing, Faculty of Medicine, at: 204-789-3427 or cell: 204-295-6777, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Founded in 1883 as Western Canada’s first medical school, the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine has graduated more than 9,000 physicians who have become influential medical leaders, world renowned health researchers and dedicated doctors. As Manitoba’s only medical school, the U of M Faculty of Medicine has educated and trained the majority of our province’s physicians.