In early May, the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya, H.E. David B. Collins attended the launch of a new Canadian government-funded project that will address the health and nutritional needs of women and children in Kenya’s Taita Taveta County. The launch of the project was held in Mwatate, a rural town in Taita Taveta County in Kenya’s Coast province.
The project has received funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and will be implemented by the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Global Public Health as part of Canada’s commitment under the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
“Canada is leading a global effort —the Muskoka Initiative —to mobilize global action to reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve the health of mothers and children in the world's poorest countries.”
High Commissioner David B. Collins
As part of the project, the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Global Public Health has partnered with the Canadian Food Grains Bank to bring together student researchers, international health experts and Non-Governmental Organizations to reduce the number of preventable maternal and child deaths in Kenya.
The project will benefit Kenya’s Taita Taveta County due to the area’s high levels of poverty and food insecurity. The population in this county is primarily rural with some of the lowest levels of literacy in all of Kenya and very high rates of child mortality. The area will benefit from 3,000 pregnant women and their families receiving education in perinatal and infant nutrition. Sixty community workers will be trained as “link” workers to identify at-risk families and ensure that each has access to a network of services for nutritional and health care support.
“This project captures Canada’s strategy for addressing maternal and child health issues. Canada’s efforts are focused on strengthening health services at the community level, improving nutrition for both mothers and children, and preventing and treating the most prevalent illnesses and diseases that cause maternal and child mortality,” said the High Commissioner.
The University of Manitoba’s Centre for Global Public Health will also work with local partners including the University of Nairobi’s School of Public Health, the Christian Reform World Relief Committee and the Pwani Christian Community Services.
“Ultimately, the project is the community’s project. It is the women and children of the area that will be helped and thus the entire community that will benefit,” added the High Commissioner.
On June 25, 2010, under the leadership of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the leaders of the G-8 nations endorsed the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. They were joined in this initiative by other nations and organizations, which together committed US$7.3 billion in new funding over five years. Under the Initiative, Canada has committed $1.1 billion in new funding for maternal, newborn, and child health, of which almost $800 million has been announced.
Canada has now launched 51 Muskoka Initiative projects in 26 countries that are helping to reduce preventable deaths. The Muskoka Initiative Partnership Program under CIDA’s Partnerships with Canadians Branch will provide up to $82 million for 28 projects such as the one recently launched in Kenya that take a comprehensive and integrated approach to address maternal, newborn, and child health, and support Canada’s commitment of reducing mortality rates in developing countries until 2015.