September 15, 2016

Gates Foundation awards $25mn to AKU for maternal, child health

This post originally appeared on The News.

The Aga Khan University (AKU) will work to prevent deaths of mothers and children in Pakistan under a five-year $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, testing a variety of approaches in an effort to develop insights and evidence that can influence policy across the country and beyond its borders.

An estimated 440,000 mothers and children under the age of five died in Pakistan in 2015, more than in all but two other countries. Because the risks mothers and children face in rural areas are especially high, AKU researchers will focus on 14 mainly rural districts in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan as well as urban slums in Karachi.

In Balochistan, for example, the rate at which women die from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth is more than four times higher than in urban areas of Pakistan, and in some areas fewer than one in six women give birth with a health worker present.

Among mothers and children in Pakistan, most deaths are due to preventable or treatable causes, and thus could be avoided. Among children under five, for example, more than 30 percent of deaths are the result of pneumonia or diarrhoea.

Under the grant, entitled Umeed-e-Nau (A New Hope), the university will partner with public and private sector organisations to introduce at least six large-scale projects in representative settings.

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