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February 7, 2013

AMREF and SickKids Join Forces for Child Health in Tanzania

Project to train African health workers in newborn care

The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) are joining together to combat the high mortality rate of children in rural Tanzania.

Through the unique partnership, SickKids will provide training in newborn care to Tanzanian health professionals, who will then share their learning with colleagues. This collaboration connects the SickKids Global Child Health program to an ongoing program by AMREF to improve mother and child health for some of the most disadvantaged communities in Tanzania.

“We are so pleased to have SickKids’ experts in newborn health available to share their knowledge with doctors, nurses and health professionals in an area of Tanzania where too many babies are dying from lack of medical care,” says Anne-Marie Kamanye, Executive Director, AMREF Canada. “Training health workers is an important part of the work AMREF does, and we’re fortunate to partner with one of the best children’s hospitals to save lives.”

“Working with an established organization such as AMREF and their wealth of local knowledge means that we can focus on training Tanzania’s health workers and ensure that the information is spread throughout the region,” says Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, Chief, SickKids Global Child Health. “The AMREF-SickKids partnership is an exciting opportunity for both organizations to build the foundation for a long-term collaboration, contributing towards improving children’s health in Tanzania.”

Infant mortality remains high in Tanzania, with 50 children under the age of one dying for every 1,000 live births. In Canada, the rate is five. Lack of access to medical care is one of the biggest challenges facing mothers and newborns in the Tanzanian program area, where only 39 per cent of deliveries are assisted by a trained health professional. Nationally, 51 per cent of mothers in Tanzania give birth with trained medical assistance. Northern Tanzania also has a critical shortage of health care workers, having only 50 per cent of the skilled health professionals that it requires.

The partnership with SickKids is part of AMREF’s Tubadilike (Let’s Change) Project, which started in the Shinyanga region of Tanzania in 2011 and aims to significantly increase the number of children with access to medical care. With funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and SickKids Foundation, SickKids’ experts are creating a train-the-trainer program focused on newborn care, and working with AMREF to ensure nursing and medical professionals throughout the region receive the training.

SickKids’ experts are planning to visit the Tanzanian community in March 2013 to begin teaching. At the end of the year-long partnership, AMREF and SickKids will ensure Tanzanian health professionals are able to continue the training to make sure the work is sustainable.

About AMREF (www.amrefcanada.org @AMREFCanada): 
Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya and with 55 years of experience, AMREF is the leading African public health organization. Recipients of both the Bill and Melinda Gates Award for Global Health and the Hilton Humanitarian Prize, AMREF staff and experts work to improve the health of the most disadvantaged in Africa, advocate for improved health practices and policies while sharing knowledge, materials and expertise with governments, other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international health agencies.

About The Hospital for Sick Children
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally.  Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized child and family-centred care; pioneer scientific and clinical advancements; share expertise; foster an academic environment that nurtures health-care professionals; and champion an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is proud of its vision for Healthier Children. A Better World. For more information, please visit www.sickkids.ca. Follow us on Twitter (@SickKidsNews) and Instagram (@SickKidsToronto).

AMREF CANADA Media Contact:
Jennifer Foulds
(416) 961-6981
(647) 771-5815 (cell)

SickKids Media Contact: 
Caitlin McNamee-Lamb
The Hospital for Sick Children
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 1436
email: caitlin.mcnamee-lamb@sickkids.ca