British High Commissioner hosts Amref Health Africa international Board in Nairobi

Members of Amref Health Africa's International Board, meeting in Nairobi this week, were hosted to a reception by the British High Commissioner in Kenya, Dr Christian Turner, at his residence in the Kenyan capital. The event was also attended by several high commissioners and members of the diplomatic corps, heads and representatives of corporates, non-governmental organisations and government institutions, and members of the media.

In his remarks, Dr Turner addressed maternal health in Kenya, which is an area of focus for Amref Health AFrica. He noted that the Kenyan Government had made maternal health a priority by providing free maternal care in all public health facilities, adding that the UK had been supporting efforts to tackle maternal and newborn deaths for several years in Kenya.

He called for support for Amref Health Africa's Stand Up for African Mothers campaign, which seeks to train 15,000 midwives and to raise awareness of the importance of midwives in reducing maternal death.

“The Stand Up for African Mothers campaign touches on an issue that holds great importance to the UK Government – preventing the unnecessary deaths of women in Africa during pregnancy and childbirth. I urge you all to help AMREF reach their target of getting one million signatures to support the nomination of a midwife for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.” - Dr Christian Turner, British High Commissioner in Kenya

“The Stand Up for African Mothers campaign touches on an issue that holds great importance to the UK Government – preventing the unnecessary deaths of women in Africa during pregnancy and childbirth,” said Dr Turner. “I urge you all to help AMREF reach their target of getting one million signatures to support the nomination of a midwife for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.”

Deputy Board Chair Mario Rafaelli introduced members of the International Board, which has five representatives from Africa, five from North America and Europe, and five independent members. He noted that with the global financial crisis and changing donor environment, Amref Health Africa was reviewing its mode of operation by working more with the private sector and adopting a private sector approach.

“We are operating in an increasingly competitive arena, which has an ever-growing number of players but dwindling sources of conventional funding. Yet the work that we do is so vital to the wellbeing of people across this continent that we must ensure it continues. We are exploring alternative sources of raising funds to ensure the sustainability of our operations,” said Mr Rafaelli.

Amref Health Africa Director General Dr Teguest Guerma thanked Dr Turner and his wife, Claire, for hosting the reception for Amref Health Africa. She appreciated the British Government’s generous support of Amref Health Africa for the 57 years that the organisation had been in existence, as well as the support of many British companies and institutions. She also noted that His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales had been the patron of Amref Health Africa UK and been involved in Amref Health Africa's work for many years.

Dr Guerma said that Amref Health Africa had come a long way since its founders begun taking health services to rural communities in East Africa using small manual aircraft, but the vision had remained the same. “We are now working in over 30 African countries, but our target is still the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable communities. Last year we reached 11 million people with our programmes and we trained over 160,000 health workers.”