COTR helping to prevent Kenyan maternal deaths
College of the Rockies in collaboration with Kenya’s Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DKUT) has recently embarked on a 5-year maternal health project. Entitled MAISHA for ‘Maternal Access and Infant Survival for Health Advancement’, this project will work in two needy regions in Kenya with funding assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency. MAISHA responds to a Kenyan government request for DKUT to take a leadership role in national health care services.
According to the World Health Organization at least 536,000 women and two million babies worldwide die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth every year. The statistics are even gloomier in developing countries like Kenya where the risk of death for newborns is six times greater than in Canada.
Poor access to quality obstetric care, inadequate health facilities and lack of skills among health care providers have been cited as major factors for the high fatality rate in the developing world. However, some progress has been seen for children with infant mortality rates falling by half since 2003.
College of the Rockies International Projects and Marketing Specialist Moritz Schmidt says, “The goal of MAISHA is to improve the quality of health services and information available to rural patients and to further reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. Project funds will be used to improve emergency obstetric training for health workers and to acquire more advanced equipment for deliveries. There will be a large community aspect to the project to address community health workers’ knowledge gaps on infant and maternal health matters and to improve public understanding of these same issues.”
Initially, MAISHA will be implemented in Nyeri County, about 3 hours north of Nairobi. Once the training and implementation model have been refined, Kimathi University health sciences faculty, with support from College of the Rockies, will replicate project activities in Migori County. This part of Kenya is near Lake Victoria in the western part of the country and has the highest infant mortality rate in the country. Only 23 percent of women give birth in a health facility, a number the MAISHA team hopes to increase over the coming five years.
College of the Rockies has been present in Kenya for over eight years, primarily in partnership with Kimathi University. Previously, COTR and DKUT collaborated on a five-year project which contributed to sustainable job creation and supported the curriculum and structure for a new tourism diploma program. The MAISHA project will utilize significant staff and faculty expertise, primarily in nursing and health care, but also from other College departments to support broader efforts to help mentor and develop Kimathi University as well as rural health clinics.
For more information on other College of the Rockies International Projects go to: www.cotr.bc.ca/interdev/