New Project to Improve Health and Nutrition in Nine West African Francophone Countries

Maternal health at IntraHealth International

IntraHealth International will implement a new regional project to improve nutrition and reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) in the nine Ouagadougou Partnership countries of West Africa, thanks to a three-year, $7 million award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Francophone West Africa has among the highest maternal, neonatal, and child mortality rates in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 303,000 women died in 2015 due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth, more than one-third of them in West and Central Africa. The global maternal mortality rate is 216/100,000 live births, while the maternal mortality rate in the nine Ouagadougou Partnership countries—Benin, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Togo, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, and Niger—ranges from 315 (Senegal) to 679 (Guinea).

One out of every 41 women will die of maternal causes in these countries, compared to 1 in 4,900 in developed nations.

The new Francophone West Africa (OP) Regional Hub for RMNCH Continuum Delivery of Post-Partum Family Planning, Nutrition and Essential Newborn Package (now called INSPiRE) proposes to support integration of these programs initially in three out of the nine Ouagadougou Partnership countries (Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Niger) with subsequent support to all nine.

Together, IntraHealth and our partners will work with the nine Ouagadougou Partnership countries to:

  • achieve their national goals to increase modern contraceptive prevalence rates by 2020
  • stop preventable maternal and child deaths
  • improve maternal nutrition and feeding practices for infants and young children
  • ensure the health, nutrition, and well-being of mothers, newborns, and infants

Using lessons learned from the successes and challenges the Ouagadougou Partnership countries experienced as they built their costed implementation plans for family planning, INSPiRE will work with the nine member countries to:

  • develop country-owned, evidence-based costed action plans for ensuring deliberate, effective integration of high-impact interventions
  • hold governments and stakeholders accountable for their commitments
  • document and help share successes across the region
  • leverage existing platforms in the region to align resources and improve efficiencies
  • advocate and mobilize resources for integrated post-pregnancy family planning, nutrition, and essential newborn care services

Our consortium includes Helen Keller International, PATH, and the Institute for Research in Health Sciences. Together we will leverage our existing organizational capacity and longstanding relationships with ministries and local and regional institutions to maximize the resources that will ensure the success and long-term sustainability of this program.

The Ouagadougou Partnership aims to address unmet need for family planning in the region by helping at least 2.2 million additional women use modern contraceptive methods between 2016 and 2020. (The partnership surpassed its original goal of reaching 1 million additional women between 2011 and 2015.) About 25% of married women ages 15–49 in the region would like to space or limit births, but are not using modern contraceptive methods, mainly because access to family planning services is limited.

IntraHealth manages the Ouagadougou Partnership Coordination Unit, which is based in Dakar, Senegal, and is primarily funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.