The Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives is a Canada-led international partnership with the goal of reducing child and maternal mortality.
The initiative helps strengthen health systems in developing countries in order to implement efficient health and nutritional activities for children and pregnant women. It is focused on training frontline health workers and delivering affordable health care services in communities.
The Catalytic Initiative was designed in partnership with CIDA and the following organizations:
Canada's Contribution to the Catalytic Initiative
Canada has contributed to the Catalytic Initiative by providing $105 million in funding (2007-2012) to the Integrated Health Systems Strengthening in Africa project, executed by UNICEF. This project targets sub-Saharan African countries:
- to train additional community-level health workers to provide services to children and pregnant women;
- to promote strategies adapted to cultural realities to give women better access to health care; and
- to offer proven and affordable health care services, such as:
- immunization against measles and DPT (diphtheria-whooping cough-tetanus) vaccine to prevent the spread of deadly infectious diseases;
- insecticide-treated bed nets to protect children under five and pregnant women from malaria;
- rehydration therapies to prevent deaths caused by diarrhoea;
- administration of antibiotics to treat pneumonia;
- administration of drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS;
- distribution of micronutrients such as Vitamin A to combat malnutrition; and
- teaching breastfeeding techniques to young mothers.
Canadian funding makes basic health services more accessible to the poor and helps to prevent mental stunting and blindness caused by undernutrition, and diseases like malaria, in many more children.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Maria in seen by a UNICEF-supported health worker in Mozambique.
With Canadian support, and coupled with its own funds, UNICEF works with targeted developing-country governments to improve the coordination and sustainability of health systems, and to strengthen results-based management practices.
Overall, the Catalytic Initiative helps to achieve two Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): reduce child mortality (MDG 4) and improve maternal health (MDG 5)
Canada's contribution to the Catalytic Initiative is one of the main components of the Africa Health System Initiatives announced at the 2006 G-8 Summit, representing a total investment of $450 million.
The health and nutritional services are delivered in a number of countries. This list of countries is expected to grow as new partners come on board. Some countries are funded by only one donor partner, while others have multiple-donor support. The current list of targeted developing countries includes the following:
- Burkina Faso
- Ghana* Canadian-supported countries
- Ethiopia* Canadian-supported countries
- Malawi* Canadian-supported countries
- Mali* Canadian-supported countries
- Mozambique* Canadian-supported countries
- Niger* Canadian-supported countries
- Tanzania* Canadian-supported countries
* Canadian-supported countries
Results Achieved to Date
Canadian funding is already making a difference in targeted African countries. Here are a few examples:
- In 2007─2012, some 53,000 front-line health workers were trained and deployed in communities in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, and Niger.
- In these same countries, during the same period, more than 4.6 million insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed.
- In 2009─2012, more than one million children were treated for childhood diseases (malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea) in Ghana and Malawi.
- CIDA helped to train 2,841 community health workers to treat pneumonia, malaria, and dehydration caused by diarrhoea.
- To date, CIDA has helped to train 5,556 community health workers. This training program is part of the Government of Malawi's five-year strategic plan to ensure the survival of children. The program focuses its efforts where child mortality rates are the highest, in isolated areas with little access to medical services.
- CIDA funding was used to purchase key drugs such as anti-malarials, antibiotics, and oral rehydration salts to be used by local community health workers.
- UNICEF supported introducing zinc to treat diarrhoea, and distributed 1.3 million tablets.
- More than 363,000 children were treated for malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea in their own community.
- With support from CIDA, UNICEF distributed 1.3 million insecticide-treated bed nets to pregnant women and children.
Canada's funding is accelerating Ghana's High-Impact Rapid Delivery Program:
- by supporting the training of 15,989 community health workers;
- by supplying critical drugs to fill gaps identified by the Government of Ghana, including 355,347 doses of an anti-malaria drug (artemisinin-based combination therapy); and
- by facilitating the implementation of education programs on breastfeeding.
To date, 532,000 children under five have been treated for malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea.