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Investing in Child and Maternal Health for Social Development in Africa: A Spotlight on Evidenced Interventions

TICAD VI Spouses Programme
Nairobi, Kenya, August 27

On August 27, Japan’s First Lady Akie Abe and Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hosted a seminar on the sidelines of TICAD VI with the first ladies of other African countries on the theme of “Investing in Child and Maternal Health for Social Transformation in Africa: A Spotlight on Evidenced Interventions.” JCIE co-organized the event with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the African Union Commission.

First Lady Kenyatta described her initiative—part of the Beyond Zero Campaign—to bring mobile clinics to rural areas of Kenya so that all pregnant women and new mothers and their babies can receive adequate health promotion and care services in an effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality around the country. She announced the establishment of a new Beyond Zero referral hospital, which is modeled off of Aiku Hospital in Tokyo.

First Lady Abe praised the work of many international organizations in improving the health of women and girls, including the Global Fund, UNFPA, and UNAIDS. She also talked about the importance of engaging everyone—men, women, girls, and boys—in women’s health.

Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul offered the startling statistic that young women in Africa are ten times more likely than young men in Africa to become infected with HIV. There is no biological explanation for this discrepancy; rather, it is social factors that put them at risk. As a result, the AIDS epidemic cannot be brought under control nor can the SDGs be achieved until women and girls are empowered. JICA Vice President Hiroshi Kato described the role that the maternal and child health handbook has played in helping generations of women to protect and improve their own health and the health of their children. He explained that the handbook has been adapted for use in Kenya, where it is already empowering mothers and helping them and their children to live healthier lives.

The troubling rate at which cervical cancer—a vaccine-preventable disease—is contributing to early mortality among women in Africa was also highlighted at the seminar. International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano talked about his organization’s role in using atomic energy to fight cancer and other diseases, and Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, spoke about his organization’s efforts to bring down the prices of vaccines in low-resource countries, including vaccines for cervical cancer, and put in place systems needed to get vaccines to those who need them, systems that can then be used for other health services.

A panel of global health experts from the WHO Regional Office for Africa, the African Union Commission, UNFPA, GAVI, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and PEPFAR identified four priorities for improving women and girls’ health in Africa: strengthening human resources for health, making family planning services available to all women who want them, expanding access to the human papilloma virus vaccine to fight cervical cancer, and taking a holistic approach to health and women’s empowerment.

The event resulted in a Call to Action to Invest in Maternal and Child Health for Social Transformation in Africa.

Agenda

Opening Session
Panel Session Panel Moderator: Julie Gichuru
Q & A session

Entertainment: Collaboration by Kenya and Japan

Closing Session