AusAID, the Australian government’s international aid agency, has awarded $5470,000 to Dr Lillian Mwanri (Public Health) and Associate Professor Julie Robinson (Psychology) to bring a group of East African Fellows to Flinders for a multidisciplinary course to benefit child and maternal health.
The funding from the Australian Award Fellowships will enable 25 African in leadership positions from South Sudan, Tanzania and Ethiopia to attend the six-week intensive training course in February 2014.
Participants will be drawn from a wide range of sectors relevant to the health of women and children using the multi-sectoral Health in All Policies framework, and the training will contribute to plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
The fund is part of the Federal Government’s commitment through AusAID Fellowships towards meeting the internationally agreed 2015 UN Millennium Goals, which include major reductions to infant and maternal mortality and achieving universal access to reproductive health.
Public health physician Dr Lillian Mwanri (pictured), Course Coordinator of the Master of Health and International Development, will co-ordinate the course, which will bring together relevant teaching experience and expertise from public health, psychology and other disciplines from across the University.
While the course will teach the participants practical skills that can be passed on through training in their native countries, a major aspect of the Fellowship is to create a network among the participants that can act as a continuing resource, Dr Mwanri said.
While child mortality is high across the region, Dr Mwanri said that there is a wide variation in maternal and child health support between and within the eastern African nations, and the Fellows have been selected to match the areas of need within their countries. She said as a new nation emerging from a protracted civil war, South Sudan faces particularly problematic issues around child and maternal health.
“The aim of the course is to build capacity within the countries and also between the countries; the aim will be to develop a network of individuals who have been trained with us to manage issues of child and maternal health,” Dr Mwanri said.
“They will be helping themselves as well.”
In addition to providing class-based training, the course will seek work placements and mentorships for the Fellows in the local health, social services and related systems.
“This will allow them to identify things they can learn from us that they can implement in their countries,” Dr Mwanri said.