In Burkina Faso, the average woman will give birth to about six children. However, due to malnutrition, malaria, and poor maternal, neonatal and child health services, 81 of every 1,000 children born will die before the age of five. While pregnant or giving birth, a further 307 of every 100,000 mothers will die due to complications and lack of care. Since March 2012, WUSC has worked to reduce the number of mothers and their children dying from preventable causes through the implementation of the Project to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Burkina Faso (PASME), funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in four districts:
This project was launched in close partnership with three Canadian partners: Université Laval (UL), University of British Columbia (UBC) and Farm Radio International (FRI) and two Burkinabe partners: BURCASO (Conseil Burkinabé des ONG, OBC et Associations de lutte contre le VIH-SIDA et les IST et CICDOC (Centre d’Information de Conseil et de Documentation sur le SIDA et la tuberculose).
Canadian universities bring their expertise
Université Laval will form a vital part of the technical assistance team, conducting activities such as recruiting volunteers for the project, providing specific, short-term technical assistance, and launching student internships.
UBC will be participating in the project by pioneering an innovative Health Services Online program (www.NextGenU.org) with support from the Faculty of Health Sciences. UBC will tap in to its academic resources to train health officers in themes related to maternal and child health. The first online training session will be available in June 2013, focusing on breastfeeding.
The participation of WUSC’s two institutional members provides significant value-added to the project. In April 2012 in Ouagadougou, Professor Marie Gervais, a full-time professor in the Department of Social and Preventative Medicine at UL, worked closely with colleagues to launch the project, providing support to the development of expected results, relevant health indicators, and reflective thinking on monitoring and evaluation methods.
When Prof. Gervais returned, she assisted in the project monitoring using her experience and expertise in evaluating health policies and interventions to develop tools relevant to the project, while fuelling brainstorming on the field. Mr. Jean Marie Tapsoba, project officer at CICDOC, noted that the participation of Université Laval had significantly contributed to a strong methodology for the basic study of the project.