Canadian programs help save lives of vulnerable mothers and children in developing countries: three-year collaboration results released

The Muskoka Initiative Consortium Knowledge Management Initiative demonstrates recent achievements and lessons for the future of maternal, newborn and child health

TORONTO, June 29, 2015 – New results show that Canadian leadership in maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) is helping to save and improve the lives of thousands of mothers and babies in developing countries. On the heels of a two-day symposium in Toronto, The Muskoka Initiative Consortium Knowledge Management Initiative is launching the results of a three-year collaboration amongst CARE Canada, Plan Canada, Save the Children Canada and World Vision Canada, in partnership with the Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

“Through this project, we’ve shown the value and power of partnership, and demonstrated a deep commitment to evidence-based efforts and wise investments in the health of women and children around the world,” says Rosemary McCarney, Plan Canada President and CEO. “Each of these data points is the story of a real woman and her family, and the health of the community that surrounds her. Much progress has been made, but much more remains to be done. Our sights are now set on reaching the hardest to reach, the women and children who are marginalized not just in terms of geography, but also income, gender and social status.”

"Our academic partnership with four of the largest Canadian international non-governmental organizations – CARE Canada, Plan Canada, Save the Children Canada and World Vision Canada – to analyze and assess the work of the Muskoka Initiative Consortium across 10 programs in seven different countries, has been an invaluable experience with reciprocal learnings and has demonstrated the potential impact of evidence-based MNCH interventions in low income countries,” said Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, Chief, SickKids Centre for Global Child Health and Co-Principal Investigator for the Muskoka Initiative Consortium Knowledge Management Initiative.

Evidence from 10 programs in seven countries during the last three years suggests that Canadian-supported efforts (including funding from the Government of Canada and individual Canadians) are addressing some of the major causes of death facing women and babies in developing countries during pregnancy, childbirth and childhood by strengthening health systems, improving nutrition and reducing the burden of disease.

Results show marked average improvements in the respective project sites over the past three years:

  • 14% increase in women who received prenatal check-ups four times during pregnancy
  • 21% increase in women who were assisted by a skilled health professional during delivery
  • 50% increase in mothers who received postnatal care for themselves or their babies
  • 13% increase in children who received life-saving vaccinations, helping to achieve an average immunization rate of almost 90% for two crucial vaccines
  • 19% increase in infants who were breastfed within one hour of birth
  • 12% increase in infants who were exclusively breastfed

These changes were achieved by working with thousands of women, men, children and health care workers in poor and remote communities in Africa and Asia through activities such as training, community engagement and education, and supplies distribution:

  • Approximately 712,200 women received essential health care before, during or after childbirth
  • Approximately 414,400 children received life-saving vaccinations to protect against serious childhood diseases
  • A total of 70,460 community health workers and health professionals received training

Important strides have been made, but serious challenges remain in maternal, newborn and child health. Almost 800 women die every day due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, and in 2013, nearly 6.3 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday, mainly due to preventable causes. The Muskoka Initiative Consortium Knowledge Management Initiative was undertaken with the goal of sharing evidence and knowledge to strengthen programming, to further collaboration across organizations, and to showcase the collective results of Canada’s investment in maternal, newborn and child health.

Through this collaboration, NGO partners have developed a knowledge base, shared best practices and built experience, which is critical for improving approaches that address preventable deaths of mothers and children in developing countries. With collective learning, continued investment, and ongoing momentum, Canadian-supported programs can help save and improve many more lives over the next decade.

Note for editors:

About the Muskoka Initiative Consortium Knowledge Management Initiative

The Muskoka Initiative Consortium Knowledge Management Initiative is a three-year collaboration among CARE Canada, Plan Canada, Save the Children Canada and World Vision Canada, in partnership with the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health and the Munk School of Global Affairs, to improve maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries by strengthening Canadian-supported programs. SickKids’ Centre for Global Child Health was tasked with analyzing and presenting the combined results of selected indicators of four organizations implementing 10 projects in seven countries:

  • CARE Canada – Ethiopia, Zimbabwe
  • Plan Canada – Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Zimbabwe
  • Save the Children Canada – Mali, Pakistan
  • World Vision Canada – Tanzania

These projects were funded by the Government of Canada through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), as part of Canada’s commitment to leadership in mobilizing global support for maternal, newborn and child health. For more information on the project, please visit: can-mnch.ca/mic-kmi

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