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Global change takes time, but it’s possible

Dr. Stanley Zlotkin’s work at SickKids shows how addressing systemic issues can solve global problems

By Patrick Canagasingham, CEO
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At home, on TV or at the water cooler, it’s easy to get caught up in discouraging news, especially in my line of work. No doubt, I hear and see sad stories, but that’s not all I witness.

Dr. Stanley Zlotkin reminded me, and the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) Board recently, how much the world has accomplished when it comes to addressing global poverty in the past few decades. Last year a smaller share of the world were hungry or poor than ever before, he said, citing Our World in Data.

Global goals set at the turn of the century have had an impact. The United Nations reports that the number of people living in extreme poverty fell by more than half, from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015. The UN also reports that the global number of deaths of children under five has dropped from 12.7 million in 1990 to nearly six million in 2015. Each success feeds into another.

We need to celebrate these hard-fought gains, but we also have to be pragmatic. We know more needs to be done. The good news is the world is listening, and civil-society organizations and governments around the world are working with the United Nations to eradicate poverty and hunger, ensuring everyone has an equal chance to reach their potential with dignity.

“You have to be part of the solution.” That’s what Dr. Zlotkin — the chief at the Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and professor at the University of Toronto (among other titles) — tells his grown children and his 70-member staff in Toronto.

The doctor and development professional has been doing that for years. Fifteen years ago, UNICEF approached him to address iron-deficiency problems in vulnerable infants around the world. Since then, his work has led to a 40 to 50 percent reduction in vitamin and mineral deficiencies by addressing malnutrition, not hunger. By considering the root cause of the issue his team could reduce millions of deaths, improve the development of infants and directly influence the GDP.

Of course, child health is a big part of our mission at CCFC. So, we’re honoured to be working with SickKids through the Government-of-Canada funded Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CAIA-MNCM), reaching 1.7-million women in Africa.

Together, with Amref Health Africa, SickKids and WaterAid Canada, we’re improving the delivery of essential health services to moms, pregnant women, newborns and children under the age of five. These women and children are using the services more and improving their intake of healthy food and supplements, giving them a chance to not just survive, but thrive.

There’s more good-news stories, but it takes teamwork from organizations with different strengths — from monitoring, evaluation and research to implementation. “We are making a big difference, and that’s a big collective we,” said Dr. Zlotkin.

Indeed, we’ve come a long way, and we’re pushing forward to do more, creating more good-news stories that address the root causes of bigger issues. Join us as we continue on our journey.

Learn more about our critical projects

Learning together: Dr. Stanley Zlotkin (centre) and Dr. John Dirks (right), Chair of CCFC’s Board, have lots of knowledge to share

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More about the project:

The Canada-Africa Initiative to Address Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CAIA-MNCM) is a partnership among four Canadian organizations — Amref Health Africa, Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and WaterAid Canada. With support of $24.9 million from the Government of Canada (85 percent of the total project budget), this four-year project (2016 to 2020) aims to directly reach 1.7-million women, children and men across 20 districts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania. The partners are working together with African communities to improve the delivery of essential health services to moms, pregnant women, newborns and children under the age of five; increase the use of these improved health services; and improve the consumption of nutritious foods and supplements.

About Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For nearly 60 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, donors and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.