About us

About the IMCHA Initiative

The Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa (IMCHA) Initiative seeks to address critical to inform the reduction of maternal, newborn, and child deaths that occur in sub-Saharan Africa. The Initiative seeks to improve maternal, newborn, and child health by using primary health care as an entry point to strengthen health systems, ensuring they are more equitable. The Initiative will support research and two African health policy and research organizations whose role will be to ensure evidence informs decision-making and strengthens health systems. 

Nineteen research teams, composed of leading African and Canadian researchers and African decision-makers, will develop practical, cost-effective solutions to health system challenges. The aim is to generate new knowledge about how interventions work, for whom, and under what conditions, to ensure that mothers and their children have better access to the care they need. Researchers will also explore how successes can be scaled up to improve health equity for women and children. 

The Initiative will focus on four priority research themes:

  • High impact, community-based interventions;
  • Quality facility-based interventions;
  • Enabling the policy environment to improve healthcare services and outcomes; and
  • Human resources for health

A Unique Model to Promote Research Uptake

To promote the uptake of research findings so that they influence national and regional policies and practices, each team will work closely with one of two regional health policy and research organizations:

  • The West African Health Organization (WAHO), based in Burkina Faso; and
  • A consortium of the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), based in Kenya; the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC), based in Tanzania; and Partners in Population and Development (PPD), based in Uganda. 

Overall goal of the Initiative

The initiative is expected to:

  • Address critical knowledge gaps and increase awareness among policy decision-makers about affordable, feasible, and scalable primary healthcare interventions to improve maternal and child health delivery and outcomes;
  • Promote gender-sensitive health systems and solution-oriented research, and enhance the uptake of relevant and timely research that informs policy and practice;
  • Strengthen collaborations between Canadian and African researchers, working in partnership with African decision-makers, to implement and scale up high-quality and effective medicines, services, and technologies that improve maternal and child health outcomes. 

Funding: CA$36 million

Duration:  years; from 2014 to 2020

Geographic scope: sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Uganda.


The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) funds research in developing countries to promote growth, reduce poverty, and drive large-scale positive change. 

Working with development partners, IDRC multiplies the impact of its investment by bringing innovations to more people in many countries around the world.   

The IDRC head office is located in Ottawa, Canada and has four regional offices in Cairo, Egypt; Montevideo, Uruguay; Nairobi, Kenya; and New Delhi, India. 

IDRC is governed by a board of up to 14 governors, whose chairperson reports to Parliament through the Minister of International Development. 

IDRC was established by an act of Canada’s parliament in 1970 with a mandate “to initiate, encourage, support, and conduct research into the problems of the developing regions of the world and into the means for applying and adapting scientific, technical, and other knowledge to the economic and social advancement of those regions.” 

The Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa Initiative reflects Canada’s top development priorities and commitment to reducing preventable deaths and improving the health of mothers, newborns, and children. By focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, this initiative will have a lasting impact on the lives of mothers and children, where the need is greatest. 


CA$36 million


Years: 2014 - 2020