Message from the Directors
The Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health (CoEWCH) of the Aga Khan University represents one of the most exciting academic platforms of its kind globally with a focus on integrated academic and research. It also has a special interest in evidence-based advocacy and capacity development, impacting on health worker training in geographies and populations in greatest need in relation to women and child health and nutrition. In recent years the CoEWCH has also focused on issues of sexual and reproductive health as well as adolescent health and wellbeing, and is increasingly positioning itself as a think tank for the Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan Development Network related to these issues.
The CoEWCH focuses on health and developmental outcomes for women and children in low- and middle-income countries. The CoEWCH is overseeing a large portfolio of research and scholarship in relation to women and child health and has played an active role in the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To recap, in September 2000 some 189 world leaders signed a declaration on eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to improve the lives of women, men, and children in their respective countries. Goal 4 of the MDGs called for a reduction in child mortality by 67% and Goal 5 called for improvements in maternal health with target 5a referring to a reduction of maternal mortality by 75% between 1990 and 2015; and 5b achieving universal access to reproductive health. Since 1990, and notably after the MDG declaration in 2000, substantial progress was made in improving reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health outcomes, especially over the last decade with almost 50% reduction in maternal and child mortality respectively. Yet, major challenges remain with many countries and sub-national populations lagging behind these gains and considerable equity challenges remaining. The issues pertaining to conflict and humanitarian settings, sadly common to many Islamic countries and geographies that AKU and AKDN serve, are also coming to the fore as major global challenges.
With the transition to the SDGs after 2015, the challenge of improving lives and livelihoods of women and children worldwide, and achieving the global and national targets for maternal and child survival, accelerating progress and evidence-based policies becomes even more important. With the additional outputs and goals related to gender equity, adolescent health, addressing determinants and reducing disparities, the CoEWCH aims to help promote evidence-based solutions for women and children’s health and their implementation. We also target scientific evaluations and impact assessments with the highest rigour and influence national, regional and global policies. All of this is only possible through concerted work and collaborations, and we welcome your partnership and support in this endeavour. Our scope and scale of work is huge and across countries and regions. We will endeavour to keep you informed and engaged, and look forward to receiving ideas as to how to improve our communication and outreach strategies.
Founding Director, Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health
Director, Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, East Africa