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Aga Khan University studies maternal-child death reduction

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Kenyatta_MargaretBY JAMILA SHEMNI

IN a move to accelerate improvement in maternal and child health, the Aga Khan University has launched a case study in Kenya as one of the most detailed analyses to date of Kenya’s progress in reducing maternal and child deaths.

As part of the initiatives to attain sustainable development goals by 2030, the Aga Khan University is also supporting Tanzania to achieve the said goals.

Recently, the University in Tanzania has launched the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Salama House in harmonization of nursing and midwifery in the country.

During the launch of the case study in Kenya, the Kenyan First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta, underscored the important need to support the initiatives in ensuring there is a significant improvement in maternal and child health.

“Kenya posted significant improvements in maternal and child health from 2003 to 2014, saving more than 53,000 lives and creating a foundation on which it can build over the next 15 years.

But it did not meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which called for reducing the mortality rate for children under 5 by two-thirds and reducing the maternal mortality rate by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015,” she said.

She said Kenya is on track to meet the child mortality target in the Sustainable Development Goals, if the current rate of reduction holds.

She added that meeting the targets for newborn and maternal deaths will require significant improvements and that newborn death would need to decline at double the recent rate, and maternal deaths at more than four times the recent rate, to achieve the goals.

The study was a collaborative effort led by Aga Khan University and the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health of Toronto, with key contributions by experts from the Ministry of Health, the University of Nairobi and the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health.

Funding for the study and its dissemination was provided by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, through grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Government of Canada, respectively.

According to AKU Professor William Macharia , co-Principal Investigator of the study and Chair of the Department of Paediatrics and Associate Dean of Research, East Africa, the  study can be a catalyst that sparks action and guides collaborative efforts that prevent tragic and avoidable deaths of mothers and children.

“Now it’s up to all of us to work together, build on Kenya’s positive momentum, and make sure that every mother and every child has a chance to lead a healthy life,” he said.

Co-Principal Investigator of the study, Founding Director of the AKU Centre of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health and co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health in Toronto, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta said   the data and analysis this study contains both illuminate the past and shine a bright light that shows us the way forward.

Meanwhile, the Tanzania Midwives Association (TAMA) has urged the Government to enroll more midwives in the country so as to deliver better services to Tanzanians women.

According to the TAMA president, TAMA, Teddy Mwanga, there are lot of midwives who have graduated but the main challenge is the unemployment crisis which is affecting them.

“The Government needs to do something to ensure all the graduated midwives get employment opportunities so as to meet with the demand of more midwives needed in the country,” she said.


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