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Aga Khan at the Maternal, Newborn and Health Summit in Toronto

Toronto, Canada, 28 May 2014 – At the invitation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, His Highness the Aga Khan will speak at the Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Summit in Toronto.

The event will be webcast live by the Government of Canada. For more information, please see the conference website:

The Summit, “Saving Every Mother, Saving Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach”, brings together a number of partners in the global fight to address maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries. It follows the June 2010 G8 summit (held in Muskoka, Ontario), when Canada led G8 and non-G8 countries, as well as other leaders, to commit CAD$7.3B (for 2010 to 2015) to MNCH.

The focus of the Initiative is designed to cement gains and address gaps in the otherwise remarkable progress in MNCH achieved during the last two decades. The number of women who die each year during pregnancy, or childbirth, has dropped substantially (543,000 deaths in 1990 to 287,000 in 2010).

However, despite the gains, the remaining preventable maternal deaths (99 percent) occur in developing countries where many women are not attended to by a trained midwife, nurse or doctor during childbirth.

And although the global number of deaths among children younger than five has decreased from more than 12 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012, many additional deaths can be prevented through basic, affordable, and practical interventions during childbirth and the first days after birth. The presence of a skilled birth attendant and community health workers is particularly critical in decreasing newborn mortality.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has been engaged in MNCH for nearly a century The Kharadar maternity home in Karachi, for example, was established on 15 April 1924. Today, the Network’s MNCH activities span 12 countries in Central Asia (Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan), South Asia (Pakistan, India), Sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, and Mali) and the Middle East (Syria, Egypt).

Health statistics bear out the reasons for AKDN’s long-standing focus on MNCH. Of the 4.5m outpatient visits made in AKDN facilities, 2.7 million, or 60 percent, were related to MNCH. Similarly, of the more than 180,000 inpatients, 108,000 or 60 percent, were related to MNCH. Nearly 41,000 deliveries took place in AKDN managed health facilities. Over 2.5 million people were served through community-level MNCH activities, including: routine immunizations; child growth monitoring including milestones to assess early childhood development; provision of micro-nutrients; family planning; antenatal and post natal care visits; and, health promotion and disease prevention. Technological solutions, such as mobile phone-based solutions and tele-medicine, are increasingly leveraged to improve access to MNCH services for rural or marginalized populations.

In addition to health service delivery, AKDN staff have made substantial contributions to the global MNCH agenda through global monitoring and evaluation and research.

Canada has supported AKDN’s MNCH activity in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Mali. In Afghanistan, Canada has helped fund programmes for the construction of the new Bamyan Provincial Hospital, as well as the training of health professionals and the implementation of community health programmes. In Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, it has helped strengthen AKDN’s health system by improving service delivery, training health professionals, and delivering community-based health promotion and prevention campaigns. In Tanzania, it has helped upgrade five AKHS Primary Medical Centres and made greater outreach possible.

The Aga Khan Foundation Canada is a member of the Canadian Network for MNCH (CAN-MNCH). CAN-MNCH is comprised of 70 Canadian organizations that are engaged in MNCH work in over 1000 regions around the world.

Other AKDN partners in MNCH include: Germany (KfW), France (AFD), USAID, Norway, Switzerland (SDC), World Health Organization, UNICEF, as well as private sector actors (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck).

For more information:

Jennifer Pepall
Aga Khan Foundation Canada
The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat
199 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Canada, K1N 1K6 Phone: (613) 237-2532
Fax: (613) 567-2532
Toll free number: 1-800-267-2532