The Universit de Montral announced today a commitment of US$11.7 million (CAN$16 million) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build capacity for population and health research and policy in French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa. This program, lasting ten years and run in partnership with the Universit de Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (West Africa), will support reproductive health in the region by providing advanced training programs, developing a regional policy research leadership center, and establishing a network of specialists in the field.
According to Montral professor Thomas LeGrand, who proposed the program to the foundation, "There is an urgent need to build the human capacity in the region to better understand the critical population and health issues and to design more effective policies and services that are essential for improving the welfare of African populations."
"The Gates Foundation is pleased to be part of this important effort to strengthen human and institutional leadership and research capacity in Francophone Africa," said Helene Gayle, director of the Gates Foundation's HIV, TB, and Reproductive Health program. "The efforts of the Universit de Montral and the Universit de Ouagadougou will go a long way toward accelerating improved health for women and their families in this region."
Of the major regions of the world, sub-Saharan Africa faces the most daunting health and population problems. Experts estimate that nearly one in ten children born there die before their first birthday, and one in sixteen women die in pregnancy or labor over the course of their lives.
About 30 million people in the region are infected with HIV/AIDS (about 70% of all cases in the world), causing life expectancy to fall to below 40 years of age in some countries. Infectious
Contact: Sophie Langlois
University of Montreal