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AKU and partners launch landmark study to help Kenya meet maternal and child health goals

<div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Aga Khan University, Kenya’s Ministry of Health and a group of partners launched the Kenya Countdown to 2015 Country Case Study on April 28, one of the most detailed analyses to date of Kenya’s progress in reducing maternal and child deaths. </span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; line-height: 1.42857;">
</span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica; line-height: 1.42857;">T</span><span style="font-family: helvetica; line-height: 1.42857;">he study provides policymakers, health care providers and the public with a roadmap that can guide efforts to accelerate improvements in maternal and child health and achieve the new targets in the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The launch was presided over by the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, and Princess Zahra Aga Khan.</span>
</div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">H.E. Margaret Kenyatta congratulated the Aga Khan University and its partners, saying that “it is for​ums such as these that provide us stakeholders the opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced, refine our shared strategy, and renew our collective commitment to saving lives of mothers and children.” </span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Kenya posted significant improvements in maternal and child health from 2003 to 2014, saving more than 53,000 lives and creating a foundation on which it can build over the next 15 years. But it did not meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which called for reducing the mortality rate for children under 5 by two-thirds and reducing the maternal mortality rate by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015. Kenyan child mortality over this period fell by 50 percent, and maternal mortality by 26 percent.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">In a notable bright spot, Kenya is on track to meet the child mortality target in the Sustainable Development Goals, if the current rate of reduction holds. But meeting the targets for newborn and maternal deaths will require significant improvements. Newborn deaths would need to decline at double the recent rate, and maternal deaths at more than four times the recent rate, to achieve the goals. The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by world leaders in September 2015 to replace the Millennium Development Goals and guide global efforts through 2030 to end poverty, improve health, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change.​</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The study was a collaborative effort led by Aga Khan University and the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health of Toronto, with key contributions by experts from the Ministry of Health, the University of Nairobi and the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health. Funding for the study and its dissemination was provided by the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, through grants from the Bill &amp; Melinda Gates Foundation and the Government of Canada, respectively.​</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">“This landmark study can be a catalyst that sparks action and guides collaborative efforts that prevent tragic and avoidable deaths of mothers and children,” said AKU Professor William Macharia, co-Principal Investigator of the study and Chair of the Department of Paediatrics and Associate Dean of Research, East Africa. “Now it’s up to all of us to work together, build on Kenya’s positive momentum, and make sure that every mother and every child has a chance to lead a healthy life.”</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">“The data and analysis this study contains both illuminate the past and shine a bright light that shows us the way forward,” said Professor Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, co-Principal Investigator of the study, Founding Director of the AKU Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health in Toronto. </span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Key actions recommended by the Case Study include: </span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><ul><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><span style="line-height: 1.42857;">Strengthening the health system in order to improve access to and delivery of services, especially those pertaining to care and management around labor and delivery.  </span>
</span></li><li><span style="line-height: 1.42857; font-family: helvetica;">Scaling up community-level interventions to close the child-maternal/neonatal gap in health outcomes, improve equity and accelerate progress toward the 2030 targets. </span></li><li><span style="line-height: 1.42857; font-family: helvetica;">Increasing the focus on poor, least educated and rural women, with a particular emphasis on the North Eastern, Eastern, northern Rift Valley and Coastal regions. </span></li><li><span style="line-height: 1.42857; font-family: helvetica;">Addressing the unmet need for youth-friendly adolescent sexual and reproductive health services and programmes. </span></li><li><span style="line-height: 1.42857; font-family: helvetica;">Continuing to reduce out-of-pocket costs for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services, and increasing investments in maternal and neonatal health. </span></li><li><span style="line-height: 1.42857; font-family: helvetica;">Strengthening implementation of evidence-based interventions and development of innovative strategies, such as community-based outreach programmes, to reach those at the greatest risk and in the greatest need. </span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><span style="line-height: 1.42857;">Renewing commitment and ensuring accountability through transparent monitoring and evaluation schemes. </span>
</span></li></ul></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">AKU’s leadership of the Case Study is part of its commitment to conducting research that contributes to the development of evidence-based health policies and practices that save and improve lives in Kenya and across East Africa. AKU has been one of the developing world’s leaders in maternal and child health research, and its Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health is providing government and other stakeholders with essential analysis and advice to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for maternal and child health.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Kenya was one of just 10 countries selected for a Country Case Study by Countdown to 2015, a global collaboration of more than 40 institutions and organizations, including AKU, devoted to analyzing and promoting progress toward maternal and child health goals. Findings from the study will be published in leading medical journals.​</span></div>

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