USAID/East Africa’s Regional Director, Larry Meserve, has signed an agreement with the Director General of the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC), Josephine Kibaru-Mbae, to continue to strengthen maternal and newborn health and to promote improved regional health policies.
This one-year grant totals approximately $731,000 through September, 2011. With these resources, over the next year ECSA-HC and USAID will: a) advocate for changes in pre and post natal care country guidelines to help reduce maternal and newborn deaths; b) promote implementation of new approaches for increasing sustainable maternal, newborn and child health financing and governance; c) support the development of regional food fortification standards; and d) develop tools for monitoring family planning activities. By improving maternal and child health care practices at the community level, USAID and ECSA hope to see a reduction over time in illness and death rates among the region’s women and infants.
USAID has partnered with ECSA-HC since 1998 and according to USAID/EA’s Regional Director Larry Meserve, “The ECSA-USAID partnership has achieved many notable successes,” including:
- Advocacy work to prevent gender-based violence (GBV) in the region resulting in ECSA’s development of a framework for integrating GBV prevention into national health programs and ten national ministers unanimously adopting an Implementation Framework for GBV Prevention and Control. A model national policy is also being developed for country-level use.
- Increased awareness in six countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi and Zambia) on the devastating effects of post partum hemorrhage resulting in a strategy to reduce post partum hemorrhage at community level being promoted in the region.
- Support for the initiation of food fortification programs and subsequent scale up. As a result of this work, eight ECSA member countries developed new food fortification programs. In all ECSA countries, public-private initiatives are increasing the use of fortified foods.
- USAID and ECSA have also partnered to revise nutrition policies and strategies to include food fortification and/or guidelines, including the development of standards on food fortification.
- Finally, the region is now benefitting from an increase in the number of public health officers and food inspectors trained to analyze micronutrients in fortified staple foods in ECSA countries.
ECSA’s Dr. Kibaru commented, “The collaboration between USAID/East Africa and ECSA is long standing and is greatly appreciated by the Health Community. This collaboration is key to benefiting the health of the people of the region.”
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