Western University researcher receives $8.9 million project funding to reduce infant and maternal mortality

Western University researcher, David Cechetto, PhD, is training front line health care workers in Rwanda and Burundi to treat the most common causes of infant and maternal mortality.

David Cechetto, professor, Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, also serves as the director of the program – Training, Support and Access Model for Maternal Newborn and Child Health in Rwanda and Burundi (TSAM), with funding provided by The Government of Canada. TSAM has received an $8.9 million grant from Global Affairs Canada as part of the Partnerships for Strengthening Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PSMNCH) program.

Cechetto will lead a team from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry that will work with partners on the ground in Rwanda and Burundi to develop training, mentoring and access programs for health care providers. Since 2000, Cechetto has worked with Rwandan officials to rebuild the country’s health-care system after the Rwandan genocide in 1994, including the redevelopment of nursing and medical education.

According to UNICEF, the under-five mortality rate for Rwanda and Burundi was 48,000 and 26,000 in 2013. The maternal mortality rate was estimated to be 740,000 and 320,000.

“Mother and infant mortality is high, and it doesn’t have to be,” said Cechetto. “The high rate is partially due to lack of resources, but also the need for a health care system that is prepared for the realities of childbirth in these countries. Too many mothers’ and babies’ lives are lost to causes that we can prevent.”

The program will be focused on training health care providers to assess and treat common and critical health care factors directly tied to maternal and child health outcomes, such as hemorrhaging, hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia, sepsis, existing diseases (i.e. malaria, HIV, anemia), infant infection and poor nutrition.

More information about the PSMNCH Initiative can be found at:


MEDIA CONTACT: Crystal Mackay, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, t. 519.661.2111 ext. 80387, c. 519.933.5944, crystal.mackay@schulich.uwo.ca


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