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Fight against maternal and child mortality heightened in East Africa

<div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">The Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health of Aga Khan University in partnership with Toronto Sick Kids Hospital, Centre for Global Child Health and the Canadian Coalition for Global Child Health held an international conference in Nairobi to discuss strategies aimed at reducing maternal and child deaths in poor countries in line with the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) strategy.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">Under the theme “Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals” the forum provided evidence based consensus and recommendations for consideration by governments and international agencies while implementing new strategies to help reduce preventable deaths in women and children in furtherance of “unfinished business” under the new 2030 target SDGs.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">Present at the event were Mr Firoz Rasul, President, Aga Khan University, H.E David Angell, Canadian High Commissioner and Dr Patrick Amoth, Head, Division of Family Health in the Ministry of Health.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">President Rasul said, “Women and children health has been of great concern globally and is at the heart of Aga Khan University in its mission to avert the burden of deaths resulting from women and child health.  The university has a special interest in improving maternal and child health in East Africa through research in collaboration with government agencies.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">“We are very pleased that, to this end, we are able to play our part in diagnosing and treating patients using the Heart and Cancer Centre at Aga Khan University Hospital. One of the highest priorities of our hospitals is to achieve international standards of healthcare especially for non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">The conference came at a special time especially after the world has just signed up the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs go far beyond the remit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which guided global policy for women and children over the last 15 years.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">Since 1990, and notably after the MDGs declaration in 2000, substantial progress has been made in improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health outcomes, especially over the last decade with almost 45 to 50 per cent reduction in maternal and child mortality. Nevertheless, major challenges remain with many countries and sub-national populations lagging behind these gains.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">According to Dr Amoth, about 108,000 Kenyan children die before their 5th birthday of which 40 per cent die within the first month after birth. Also between 6000 – 8000 Kenyan women die every year due to pregnancy related complications. Majority of these deaths occur during labour, and the immediate post-partum period with obstructed labour and hemorrhage being cited as the major causes. Other causes include; hypertensive diseases, bacterial infections, lack of professional support during labour, poor nutrition and inadequate delivery facilities.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta, Director, Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University added, “The Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health represents one of the most exciting academic platforms of its kind globally with a focus on integrated academic and research activities for Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan Development Network.  The programme focuses on capacity development, innovations to improve outreach services and development outcomes for women and children in low and middle income countries.Thus, the SDGs will provide the impetus for staying the course on improving maternal and child health outcomes and through an ambitious set of targets developed for SDG 3, allow for sustaining and accelerating action to promote maternal, newborn and child health globally.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">“Now with the end of the MDGs and transition to sustainable development goals after 2015, the challenge of improving lives and livelihoods of women and children worldwide becomes even more urgent. The conference and associated workshops aimed at promoting a better understanding of the determinants and status of the health of women, children and adolescents in East Africa.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">“Aga Khan University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health aims to help promote evidence-based solutions for women and children’s health and their implementation and we welcome your partnership and support in this endeavor.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">With speakers from; Belgium, Canada, South Africa, UK, USA, Mozambique, Tanzania and the hosting country Kenya, the conference also created a platform for exchange of ideas, recent developments and innovations that would specifically help young and upcoming faculty members and trainees to better appreciate the magnitude of health challenges that face the region.</span></div>
 

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