The East African Community is expected to launch before the end of this year, a special project geared to boost maternal and child health in the region.
Named ‘Open Health Initiative’, the project envisages to promote innovative interventions and enhance access to data and information for better results, better tracking of resources and stronger oversight of results and resources for women's and children's health nationally and regionally, all geared towards achievement of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.
EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera announced the regional bloc health initiative here on Wednesday, when opening the first preparatory meeting, which brought on board delegates from the Partner States and various international and regional collaborating partners.
He said the target was for the Open Health Initiative to be officially launched by the 14th Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State due in November this year.
Ambassador Sezibera noted that the EAC Partner States face similar challenges in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially with regard to
MDGs 4 and 5 which focus on maternal and child health.
He observed that the latest regional statistics show that average reductions needed were 65 percent to achieve MDG 4 (reducing child mortality) and 61percent to achieve MDG 5 (reducing maternal mortality rate) as of 2010 and hence decried the fact that “under-5 mortality rates are still too high for our region”.
Sezibera hailed the various initiatives undertaken so far to address health service delivery such as President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative; the G8 Summit Muskoka Initiative; and the UN Secretary General’s Every Woman, Every Child initiative; but observed that while “all these initiatives are laudable and critical, they have to be nationalized and regionalized in order for women and children to access cost effective services”.