The federal government has identified maternal, newborn and child health as Canada’s top development priority. Half of the world’s maternal, newborn, and child deaths occur. Most maternal, newborn, and child deaths can be prevented by strengthening health systems on the frontlines, where primary health care is provided.
In May 2014, the Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa (IMCHA) research program was launched as a joint initiative of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). IMCHA will provide up to $20 million over five years and will support the work of 20 research teams made up of Canadian and African researchers in 13 sub-Saharan African countries with the goal to help resolve pressing challenges and better meet the primary healthcare needs of mothers, newborns and children in sub-Saharan Africa.
We are pleased to announce that a research team from the Faculty of Medicine was awarded one of these grants. Drs. Ron Labonté and Manisha Kulkarni will spearhead the project, “An Implementation Study of Interventions to Promote Safe Motherhood in Jimma Zone, Ethiopia”, along with colleagues at Jimma University and the Ethiopia Ministry of Health.
In Jimma, 60 per cent of births still take place unattended at home. This study focuses on efforts to reduce major barriers to skilled birth attendant (SBA) deliveries, though the improvement and maintenance of maternity waiting areas in primary health care units, more highly trained health extension workers able to provide skilled birth attendance, and education of women, men and community/religious leaders to address cultural beliefs and practices that may delay or inhibit women in seeking SBA delivery.
In addition to this project, three more of the 20 projects awarded by the IDRC for increased maternal child interventions, were given to research teams across various other faculties at the University of Ottawa. This is a notable accomplishment and we congratulate all of the University’s skilled researchers.