Donor funds fight against maternal, infant mortality

Sunday June 12 2016

A child being given a polio vaccine. The Canadian government has provided money to aid the war against maternal and infant mortality rates. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A child being given a polio vaccine. The Canadian government has provided money to aid the war against maternal and infant mortality rates. FILE PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By CHRIS WAMALWA
More by this Author

Grand Challenges Canada has announced the availability of funds to aid efforts in reducing maternal and infant deaths in developing countries such as Kenya.

The non-profit organisation, which is dedicated to supporting global health, is sponsored by the Canadian government.

Dr Ken Simiyu, Grand Challenges Canada Programme officer, said the funds will be provided through two programmes: approximately 70 grants will be made available through the Stars in Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health programme, which is valued at Canadian dollars 100,000 each (Sh7.5 million), and approximately 15 grants will be given out through the Saving Brains programme, valued at CAD 250,000 each (Sh20 million).

“Through this funding, eligible organisations in developing countries can submit applications to receive the funds to develop solutions to problems that affect mothers and children,” Dr Simiyu said.

Speaking on Friday at the Novotel, Canada, during a panel discussion on 'Investing at Home and Abroad’ - which was attended by about 150 Kenyan professionals living in Canada - he said innovators with social enterprises, non-profit organisations, for-profit organizations, universities, research institutions as well as other recognized institutions are eligible for funding.

In the last two decades, Kenya has made substantive progress in tackling mortality rates in the various groups.

Nevertheless, in most rural parts of the country there are still health hurdles such inadequate access to quality services, poor nutrition, violence and discrimination, which limit the ability of women and children to participate in the conversation.

Dr Simiyu observed that steps, which include manufacturing products and better implementation models, have been rolled out to address the issue of maternal and infant mortality.

One of the initiative is the Stars in Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health programme..

“For example, by improving use of essential health services mortality will be reduced,” Dr Simiyu added.

He further said that another programme, ‘Saving Brains’, supports new approaches to ensure children thrive by protecting and nurturing early brain development in providing an exit strategy from poverty.

The initiative has been borne out of a partnership with, among others, Aga Khan Foundation Canada and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

He said since 2011, Grand Challenges Canada has provided funding to over 700 organisations in 80 countries.