Horizons of Friendship partners with Global Affairs Canada to save the lives of women and children
Horizons of Friendship, signed a multi-million dollar partnership agreement on 22 March with Global Affairs Canada’s international aid branch that officially kick-starts an ambitious Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (MNCH) initiative in predominantly indigenous rural Guatemalan communities.
As part of the Government of Canada’s Partnerships for Strengthening Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, the four-year, $13.2 million, Reducing Gaps for Indigenous Peoples in Totonicapán, Guatemala initiative, aims to decrease maternal and newborn deaths in marginalized Maya K’iche communities; directly benefitting over 218,000 people. The project also includes an innovative Canadian public engagement component that will benefit 700 Canadian MNCH practitioners and stakeholders through cooperation and knowledge-sharing with their Guatemalan counterparts, with at least a further 8,000 Canadians benefitting from an increased understanding of MNCH locally and globally.
This landmark agreement is the largest of its kind in Horizons’ 43-year history of promoting social justice and people-centred development in Central America and Mexico. The partnership sees Global Affairs Canada generously contributing $11.4 million and Horizons of Friendship fundraising $1.8 million. This means that for every dollar Horizons raises for the MNCH project, Global Affairs Canada will match with $6.
“We are extremely excited to launch this project in partnership with Global Affairs Canada and our partners in Guatemala” said Patricia Rebolledo, Horizons’ Executive Director.
In Guatemala, Indigenous women are twice as likely to die during childbirth as non-indigenous women, and mortality among Guatemala’s indigenous children under 1 year of age is 67% higher than the rest of the population. In rural Guatemalan communities , traditional indigenous midwives provide the majority of maternal and newborn health care, attending 69% of all live births. However, there is a need to improve service standards among midwives as an estimated 41% of all maternal deaths among indigenous women occur in their homes.
Working with our Guatemalan partner, the Association for Health, Promotion, Research and Education (PIES de Occident), Horizons’ new initiative will increase service coverage in rural areas and will formally train and better equip over 1,000 midwives, bolstering their centuries-old expertise.
Dr. Paul Caldwell, President of Horizons Board of Directors, states: “This is a huge chance for us to improve and strengthen the way health care is delivered to this vulnerable indigenous population. There is a lot of work to be done. We need your help, and we hope that Canadians, not only in Northumberland, but all across this vast and generous country will support us with this project.”