The Saving Lives at Birth partnership supports bold ideas to save the
lives of women and their babies from innovators motivated by tragic
OTTAWA, Nov. 22, 2011 /CNW/ - Although Kenyan Sam Agutu and Nigerian
Aminu Gamawa come from different countries and backgrounds, they share a
common passionate commitment - to save the lives of women giving birth
and guarantee infants a healthy start. Both men suffered the loss of an
important woman in their lives. Agutu's sister died in childbirth on
the way to the hospital. Gamawa's mother died in childbirth too. Both
men say the deaths were completely unnecessary if better care had been
available. They've channeled that devastating loss into powerful
motivation to improve the odds for women and their babies.
"These two bold ideas with big impact are testimonials to the loved ones
these innovators lost in childbirth," said Peter A. Singer, CEO of
Grand Challenges Canada. "Their loved ones did not have to die, and
these innovations aim to prevent other women from dying unnecessarily
Sam Agutu's Kenyan group, Changamka Microhealth based in Nairobi, is
proposing e-vouchers delivered through cell phones to encourage women
to seek care during their pregnancy and at birth. In remote areas
health care costs and distance to clinics are barriers for women. The
e-vouchers can be used to pay for pre-natal care and transportation.
"Research shows that not receiving adequate care is a leading cause of
maternal mortality in the developing world. Mothers who attend their
required ante-natal visits and who deliver in hospital stand an
infinitely greater chance of surviving than those who do not" said Sam
Agutu of Changamka Microhealth. "We will use Saving Lives at Birth's
support to validate the effectiveness of e-vouchers, an SMS
informational campaign and a transport subsidy in encouraging pregnant
women to seek health care."
The Development Research and Projects Centre in Nigeria is relying on
persuasion and experience to change attitudes of some Islamic Opinion
Leaders in the country's Muslim northern states. The project will
leverage the persuasive powers of progressive Islamic leaders to change
opinions of more traditional leaders.
"The Development Research and Project Centre's proposal is aimed
directly at those religious leaders to change their negative messages
about maternity and newborn care." said Aminu Gamawa, Leadership
Development Mechanism Fellow at the Development Research and Projects
Centre. "We want to improve the survival of women and children in
Northern Nigeria, which has the highest maternal and neonatal death
rate in the country as well as one of the highest in the world."
Each program will receive a $250,000 seed grant from the Saving Lives at
Birth partnership, which includes Grand Challenges Canada, USAID, the
Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World
"With the support and leadership of the Government of Canada, this
innovative initiative from Grand Challenges Canada is contributing to
our overall maternal and child health efforts. I commend the Saving
Lives at Birth partners for their dedication," said the Honourable
Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation.
"To deliver dramatic health results for women and children who may never
step foot inside a hospital, we must harness the creativity of
innovators and partners across the globe." Said Rajiv Shah, USAID
Administrator. "By doing so, we can increase the efficiency,
sustainability and effectiveness of our work."
"Grand Challenges Canada is proud to be working with our consortium
partners, Canada's International Research Centre (IDRC) and the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to support this very
important work in Sub-Saharan Africa." Said Joseph L. Rotman, Chair of
Grand Challenges Canada, "It takes bold innovation of all types to make
substantial changes in the health and well-being of women and infants."
To learn more about Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for
Development and the innovations, visit www.savinglivesatbirth.net.
SOURCE Grand Challenges Canada
For further information:
Grand Challenges Canada: Lyn Whitham: firstname.lastname@example.org
USAID: Ryan Cherlin: email@example.com
Government of Norway: Lars Grønseth: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: email@example.com
The World Bank: Melanie Mayhew: firstname.lastname@example.org