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Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper has yesterday announced support to 20 research teams that will help identify, test, and deliver practical, cost-effective solutions to improve maternal and child health in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. The Prime Minister made the announcement following his meeting with Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, a statement from the Canadian Embassy in Addis Abeba said.

 
This is part of a 7-year, $36 million program funded by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the statement said. It will see leading Canadian and African researchers, and African decision-makers brought together under 20 promising projects – all aimed at saving and improving the lives of mothers, newborns, and children in a region of the world where maternal and child deaths – though falling – remain unacceptably high.

 
“We can eliminate preventable deaths of mothers and children by working together to find the most effective solutions,” said the Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie. “Canada’s leadership in improving the health of mothers and children is helping secure the future of families and whole communities in the developing world.”

 
“[The] announcement is more than an investment in the health of mothers and children; it is an investment in the future development of the region,” says IDRC President Jean Lebel. “The funding commitment of our Canadian partners combined with the work of the Canadian- and African-led teams, means more affordable, life-saving interventions will be available to many more women and children in Africa.”

 
CIHR President Alain Beaudet on his part stated that: “The projects we are supporting with our partners will help solve many pressing health system problems affecting mothers and children in Africa.” He added that by linking researchers and health care decision-makers from Canada and Africa, “we are not only putting effective interventions into practice, but also facilitating collaborations that may have a widespread impact on the delivery of health services in this part of the world.”

 
Ensuring that mothers, newborns, and children in developing countries survive and thrive is a top development priority for Canada, the statement from the embassy reads. “Significant progress has been made through the Muskoka Initiative, launched by the Prime Minister in 2010. But more progress is needed. Today’s announcement contributes to Canada’s leadership in promoting the health of mothers and children around the world.”

 
The 20 projects will take place in the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. The most promising interventions will also be eligible for additional funds to help bring them to scale, ensuring that the benefits to maternal and child health are spread among the greatest number.

 

Cover Photo: Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper
Photo: Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

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