A relief and development organisation based in North Grenville has received a $100,000 grant to help pregnant women in Sierra Leone test for urinary tract infections, which can spread to the kidney and bloodstream and can cause premature labour, slow intra-uterine growth, low birth weight or spontaneous abortion.

The grant comes from Grand Challenges Canada, an investment organisation funded by the Government of Canada and other partners. According to their website, it is one of the largest impactfirst investors in Canada, and has supported a pipeline of over 800 innovations in more than 80 countries. Grand Challenges Canada estimates that these innovations have the potential to save up to 1 million lives and improve up to 28 million lives by 2030.

On December 18, Grand Challenges Canada awarded $2.7 million in funding to 18 projects empowering some of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls. Among them is the World Hope International initiative.

In collaboration with Lehigh University, World Hope International will develop and study different distribution methods for the Ukweli Test Strip, a low-cost test for urinary tract infections (UTIs), in rural areas of Sierra Leone, where women currently lack an affordable tool for screening UTIs. The research will focus on finding the best entry point for test strips into the existing healthcare system to treat women quickly and decrease the risk of early labour.

Pregnant women are vulnerable to UTIs, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where 30-50 percent of pregnant women will contract a UTI. UTIs often go undiagnosed because of barriers to testing, including cost, accessibility and social stigma. The project will partner with local hospitals, clinics, and Community Health Workers in several communities to conduct screening and referral for treatment.

Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada, pointed out the importance of these grants in bringing essential services to many thousands of women and girls around the developing world: “The conditions facing women and girls in low- and middle-income countries almost defy belief but constitute daily reality for millions. Grand Challenges Canada is proud to work with the Government of Canada to enable innovators with bold new ideas to test concepts that may hold the key to a better life for women and girls worldwide, and to scale-up the innovative approaches to empowering women and girls that are already showing promising results.”

The grant to World Hope International is a testament to the work they have been doing in many countries, a magnificent achievement for this Kemptville-based organisation.

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