Scientist’s solutions to reduce maternal, neonatal and child death

The African Academy of Sciences and the NEPAD Agency’s Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) has announced funding for eight African innovators to tackle maternal, neonatal and child health on the Continent.

The funding, through AESA’s Grand Challenges Africa, will support researchers in Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal who were selected from among about 400 applicants from 20 African countries.

In a press release , the eight winners of the 2017 five of which are from Kenya first seed grants will each receive about Ksh 10 million (USD 100,000) for two years to implement projects that range from a portable system to detect the Zika virus to the diagnosis of maternal bacterial infections.

Tom Kariuki, AESA Director said too many African women are still dying during child birth unnecessarily and that they are harnessing Africa’s best talent to transform maternal health and save lives of mothers and their children.

The ultimate goal is to improve maternal, neonatal and child health outcomes on a continent which accounts for more than half of global maternal deaths and more than three-quarters of neonatal deaths.

Evelyn Gitau, Grand Challenges (GC) Africa Programme Manager said GC Africa builds local and global partnerships for innovations that maximise impact on health outcomes in Africa.

The eight innovators, whose backgrounds range from academia to community work, are drawn from African universities, government laboratories, research institutions and non-profit organisations.

Among the five innovators from Kenya is Galgallo Adi, a community worker in Marsabit, who is developing solar-powered bracelets to monitor the health of pregnant women in the pastoral Samburu community.

Adi said that Women are the cornerstone of society, ensuring their families’ nutritional and economic needs are met thus their lives should not be lost during child birth.

Such a scheme aimed at improving maternal health is key and the Grand Challenges Africa scheme is providing African innovators with much needed resources to find home grown solutions for the health challenges facing our people, added Adi.

The other four grantees from Kenya are Jesse Gitaka, a lecturer at Mount Kenya University on a Project-Rapid diagnosis of maternal bacterial infection, Angela Koech Etyang, Physician Scientist on a Project-Integration of a package of point of care tests into rural primary care facilities to improve access to basic antenatal screening, Eric Ogola, Epidemiologist, Project � Rational antibiotic use for treatment of sick children in local health facilities and Christine Musyimi, Engaging Traditional Birth Attendants to reduce maternal depression in rural Kenya all from kenya.

The other are Diawo Diallo, Medical Entomologist and Muriel Vray, Epidemiologist both from Senegal and Niaina Rakotosamimanana, Head of the Mycobacteria Unit, from Madagascar.

An African woman faces a 1 in 31 chance of dying from complications due to pregnancy or childbirth, compared to 1 in 4,300 in the developed world. More than half of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa are directly or indirectly attributed to infectious causes such as HIV, malaria, sepsis and sexually transmitted diseases. Infections and complications related to preterm births account for 8888 percent of new-born deaths.

Launched in 2015, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) is an Africa-led, Africa-centred, and Africa-specific platform for developing strategies, mobilising resources, implementing science, technology and innovation (STI) programmes in Africa and evaluating the impact of these investments.

Source: Kenya News Agency