Home / Information Resources / Blog Updates

Raul Scorza blog

Raúl Scorza
Community Outreach and Communications Coordinator

This second post, part of our blog series on Horizons’ maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) project, talks about the meaning and importance of MNCH globally, highlights Canada’s efforts to improve MNCH around the world, and situates Horizons’ project in that context. Thanks to our volunteer Candace Ellison for helping write this!

MNCH Young Mother and Child

Photo Credit: Charlene Cowling Zeljkovic

MNCH encompasses the health of women throughout pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum; the health of newborns up to 28 days old; and the health and healthy growth of children. These demographics are vulnerable to death due to preventable complications during and following pregnancy. Complications include profuse bleeding, infections and high blood pressure disorders, which can be detected and prevented by the timely intervention of a health provider. The World Health Organization lists maternal and children-under-five mortality ratios as two of the most common MNCH indicators, and though global rates for these indicators have dropped dramatically since the 1990s, work remains to be done in Majority World (i.e. low- and lower-middle income) countries, where 99% of preventable MNCH-related deaths still take place.

Canada has contributed to improving MNCH in these countries, and its leadership in the launch of the Muskoka Initiative at the 2010 G8 Summit brought the country’s role as an advocate for global MNCH to the fore. 

The Muskoka Initiative focused on “improving nutrition, reducing the burden of disease, and strengthening health systems to deliver integrated and comprehensive health services for mothers and children”. Canada provided $2.85 billion in funding over five years in support of the Initiative, and after the Initiative’s end, pledged an additional $3.5 billion over five more years to “improve the health of mothers and children for the period of 2015-2020”. Canada’s contributions have helped strengthen MNCH in over 155 countries worldwide by enabling the training of upwards of 113,000 health workers, the vaccination of 5.8 million children to prevent leading diseases, the distribution of iron and folic acid supplements to pregnant women and more. 

MNCH Dr. Caldwell Talk at Horizons

Dr. Paul Caldwell talks about the benefits of Horizons' new MNCH project in Totonicápan.

Horizons’ “Reducing Gaps for Indigenous People in Totonicapán, Guatemala” project, thanks to funding from Global Affairs Canada, forms a part of Canada’s efforts to improve MNCH abroad. Two weeks ago, Horizons Board President Dr. Paul Caldwell presented a detailed breakdown of how improvements on MNCH in Totonicapán would be achieved to a diverse audience of Northumberland and surrounding area residents. Midwives from throughout the region were in attendance and have begun supporting the project. Horizons is working to partner not only with the midwifery community but also nurses, physicians and health promoters in hospitals and health centers – and even a local teachers’ federation – to facilitate knowledge-sharing between Canada and Guatemala and raise awareness of MNCH issues.

Improving the health of women and children is an essential step in ensuring that vulnerable populations are given equal opportunity to become active members of their communities. An important part of the Canadian identity has and continues to rest on solidarity with those beyond Canada’s borders. 

This makes all Canadians noteworthy advocates of initiatives like Horizons’ project to improve MNCH. Visit our blog again in two weeks to read a brief interview with our Program Manager, who will provide insight into the project’s activities and the situation of MNCH in Guatemala.  

Raul Scorza blog

Raúl Scorza
Community Outreach and Communications Coordinator

Horizons of Friendship, with funding from Global Affairs Canada, is undertaking a new four-year project alongside its partner organization PIES de Occidente (Association for Health Promotion, Research and Education) to improve maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) in Totonicapán, Guatemala.

The project will improve the delivery and utilization of MNCH services by providing training and equipment to traditional indigenous midwives, health promoters and community health centers in Totonicapán, a region where the population is almost exclusively indigenous Maya K’iche.

Charlene Cowling mother and child MNCH

Photo Credit: Charlene Cowling Zeljkovic

Additionally, this project seeks to deepen Canadians’ understanding of MNCH issues, and strengthen the cooperation between Canada and Guatemala on MNCH, by carrying out a number of public engagement initiatives.

These initiatives include international knowledge-exchange visits to Guatemala and Canada by Canadian and Guatemalan MNCH leaders and professionals, enlisting educational institutions and youth groups in Canada to participate in MNCH awareness raising activities, and presenting opportunities for the general Canadian public to encounter and interact with visiting Guatemalan MNCH providers and traditional indigenous midwives.

In an effort to keep you in the know, Horizons is launching a new series of biweekly blog posts dedicated to the project’s milestones and public engagement initiatives.

Every second Monday starting from today, a new blog post will be published to cover:

• The latest information about key project developments
• Accounts of previous public events and announcements for upcoming ones
• Entries detailing the broader themes underlying the project – the importance of MNCH, gender equality and the coexistence of indigenous and Western medicine, to name a few.

Keep an eye out for special posts written by project supporters and partners, too!

Remember: you can become involved in the project’s public engagement initiatives in more than one way. Let us know if you are a practitioner interested in the exchange visits or represent an institution or group wanting to enlist in awareness raising activities. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and attend one of our public events near you, or champion the project in your own community and networks.

Your involvement is essential in helping save the lives of women and children in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.