IIE Selects 10 Maternal Health Young Champions

NEW YORK, January 10, 2013—The Institute of International Education announced today that it has selected ten Young Champions across four countries—Ethiopia, India, Mexico and Nigeria—as part of the Maternal Health Young Champions Program. Young Champions are students or young graduates in public health or a related field who are committed to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity in their home countries. They will take part in leadership training and internships to gain first-hand experience in addressing maternal health issues through research, evaluation, and field work. The ultimate aim of the MHYC program is to cultivate a cadre of professionals with a long-term commitment to improving maternal health worldwide.

The ten Young Champions are:

  • From Ethiopia: Mr. Solomon Abebe Addis, Mr. Anteneh Asefa Mekonnen, Ms. Mahlet Atakilt Woldetsadik
  • From India: Ms. Priya John, Ms. Vasudha Chakravarthy, Ms. Neha Rahi
  • From Mexico: Ms. Luz Maria Soto Pizano
  • From Nigeria: Ms. Oluwadamilola Olufunbi Olaogun, Mr. Ashiru Adamu Abubakar, Ms. Chinomnso Traffina IBE

These individuals were selected through a highly competitive process, which included an in-country selection panel of experts in the field of maternal health. They were chosen based on successful applications and personal interviews that outlined their strong interest in maternal health issues and their innovative research/project ideas to reduce maternal mortality in their respective home countries.

The Maternal Health Young Champions Program is a partnership between the Institute of International Education and the Maternal Health Task Force, which is the flagship project of the Women’s Health Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health. Ongoing support for the MHTF comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The ten Young Champions will be matched with in-country mentors from selected organizations for a nine-month research or field project internship focusing on a particular area of maternal health. The fellowship also includes leadership training and participation in the Global Maternal Health Conference 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania.

IIE administers the Maternal Health Young Champions program out of its regional offices located in Addis Ababa, New Delhi and Mexico City. Program Director Namrata Jha, Director of IIE/India, stresses the importance of the program: “Maternal mortality is a major threat to women’s life in a lot of developing countries, but it is one which can be prevented. To make every delivery a safe one, we need young professionals who have the commitment, passion, and necessary skills and exposure to the top research and expertise.”

Institute of International Education President Allan E. Goodman says, “The Young Champions program is a wonderful opportunity for these young people to bring about systemic changes in their communities and their fields through the innovative projects they will take part in with their mentors.”

While maternal health outcomes have improved in some countries over the past few decades, rates of maternal death remain alarmingly high. Every minute, a woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth and over 300 million women in poor countries suffer from maternal morbidity. In many poor countries, the majority of mothers do not receive even the most basic health care, and quality care during childbirth—when both the mother and child are most at risk—is often unavailable.

To reduce maternal mortality and morbidity over the long-term, emerging public health leaders need to be equipped with the skills, commitment, and vision to respond fully to multiple causes and consequences of this threat. To learn more about the program and details of selected Young Champions, host institutions, and mentors please visit the Maternal Health Young Champions program website.

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,200 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad.


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