Innovating for maternal and child health in Africa: Celebrating a milestone

Friday Okonofua


Available literature indicate that sub-Saharan African countries have the highest rates of maternal and child morbidity and mortality in the world1. The Millennium Declaration identified the significant reduction in global maternal and child deaths over 15 years between 2000 and 2015 as one of its major goals.  Due to the intense activities carried out during the period, it was not surprising that by 20152, reports showed that sub-Saharan African countries were able to collectively achieve a reduction of maternal mortality by 41% and under-five mortality by 33%2. Apart from not attaining the targets set for these indicators, it has been worrisome that the continent still accounts for 57% of global maternal deaths, and currently has the highest maternal mortality ratio worldwide, as compared to other regions3.

Achieving reductions in maternal and child mortality being noble global endeavors, milestones have again been set for achieving the targets under the Sustainable Development Goal (2015-2030).  Africa being the continent with the greatest challenge, it is noteworthy that several developmental assistance and interventions are being focused on African countries with the objective to attain significant reductions in maternal and child mortality, without which the global targets would be unattainable.

It is from this perspective that the Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa (IMCHA) project was fielded and funded by a consortium of development partners between 2014 and 2021 for the purpose of providing evidence for developing effective policies and programmes for the sustained reduction in maternal and child morbidity and mortality in Africa. The details of IMCHA that was jointly funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC), have been reported in a guest editorial published in this special edition of the African Journal of Reproductive Health (AJRH)4.

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United Nations Children's Fund. Maternal mortality declined by 38 per cent between 2000 and 2017. Accessed June 24, 2021.

Diop N, Kamal M, Naffa S, Renaud M and Sinzinkayo F. African leadership and international collaboration to address global health challenges: learnings from the Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa Initiative. Afr J Reprod Health, 2021; 25 (3s): 13-21.

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