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FHS researchers awarded $450K for Equity in Maternal Child Health

  • Published Fri Mar 31st 2017

    Four global health researchers at Queen’s University and Kingston General Hospital Research Institute are aiming to change the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations, particularly mothers and children.

    Co-leaders Heather Aldersey (School of Rehabilitation Therapy), Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine), Colleen Davison (Public Health Sciences), and Eva Purkey (Family Medicine) have been awarded $449,000 from the Queen Elizabeth II Scholars Program (QES) to establish the Queen Elizabeth Scholars Network for Equity in Maternal and Child Health.

    Working together as part of the Queen Elizabeth Scholars Network for Equity in Maternal and Child Health are (l to r): Evan Purkey, Colleen Davison, Heather Aldersey, and Susan Bartels.

    “Inequities in maternal and child health outcomes and access exist globally for certain groups, including those impacted by armed conflict, remote populations, displaced people, and people with disabilities. Unfortunately, these groups are rarely prioritized in research or policy,” says Dr. Aldersey.

    The QES project is the first initiative of ARCH – a research collaborative for global health equity that is being established by the four researchers. ARCH will leverage their extensive experience working with partners in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Canadian North, looking at the impacts of war, poverty, natural disasters, and preventable diseases on families and communities.

    “The network is demonstrative of research that has the potential to have a tangible impact on people’s lives,” says Dr. John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Importantly, it is also reflective of the fact that many of our scholars are building research capacity for real-world issues in both Canada and abroad.”

    The funds will support the research, learning, and advocacy skills of 15 PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, or early career researchers from low- and middle-income countries as well as Canadian trainees in a series of international exchanges. These new scholars will also take part in a common, multi-country study looking at the factors that contribute to maternal and child health inequities.

    “We hope to support and inspire global health researchers and to contribute to the evolution of Queen’s as a global health research leader,” says Dr. Davison.

    Maternal and child mortality and morbidity is still high in many parts of the world and among particular subgroups, even within Canada. Internationally, it is estimated that six million children die every year before reaching the age of five. The maternal death rate in low- and middle-income countries is still 14 times higher than in developed regions.

    “These are preventable outcomes, brought on by such factors as income disparities, lack of access to good quality services, and discrimination based on race, gender, and social class,” says Dr. Bartels.

    “Our aim is to equip the next generation of maternal and child health researchers with the skills and knowledge to advocate for these vulnerable populations,” says Dr. Purkey.

    The QES is managed through a unique partnership of Universities Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, and Canadian universities. The QES is made possible with financial support from International Development Research Centre and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.