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University Hosts Conference Featuring Activists from the Front Lines of African Women and Children’s Health Issues

(ATHENS, Ohio – March 4, 2013) Africa today accounts for more than half of the maternal and child deaths in the world, and Nigeria, with two percent of the world’s population, currently has 10 percent of the world’s maternal deaths.

Ohio University will host several world-renowned scholar-activists from the front lines fighting to promote women and children’s health across the African continent during an upcoming international conference, "Women and Children's Health in Africa: Clinical and Social Perspectives." The conference aims to raise awareness of the status of women’s and children’s health across the continent and assess efforts to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health for all women in Africa.


The keynote address for the conference, to be held on Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30, in Irvine 194, will be delivered by Edna Adan Ismail. Adan, who was featured in the PBS documentary on women's global health, Half the Sky, is a nurse and founder of the Edna Maternity Hospital in Somaliland. She is dedicated to eliminating the custom of female circumcision in the Horn of Africa region. A former first lady of Somalia, Adan served as the first Minister of Foreign Affairs and later as Minister of Health in the Republic of Somaliland.

The conference is sponsored by Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Institute for the African Child, the Center for International Studies and Athens Medical Associates.

“We sent word out to a number of prominent activists and scholars in the fields of women and children’s health and were excited to learn that so many of them could come to our campus at once. This is a great opportunity for our students and the public to hear from people who are working to change Africa’s health challenges and to have them talk to each other,” said African Studies Director Steve Howard, Ph.D., conference co-chair.

Other conference participants include Nafisa Bedri, Ph.D., of Ahfad University for Women in Sudan, who works on eradicating female circumcision and on community health in Sudan; Aggrey Otieno, recent Rolex Award winner and OHIO alumnus who founded a maternal health telemedicine center in one of Nairobi’s most notorious slums; and Marape Marape, Ph.D., a physician and leading AIDS researcher who heads the Research Division at the Botswana Baylor Children’s AIDS clinic in Gaborone, Botswana. US-based scholars Crystal Patil, Ph.D., University of Illinois, Ivy Pike, Ph.D., University of Arizona and Alyson Young, Ph.D., University of Florida, will also present talks on African women and children’s public health issues.

“Women and children in Africa suffer a disproportionate amount of the global burden of disease.   This conference is particularly exciting because it brings together both researchers and change leaders in the field of women and children's health.  Through this interaction we hope to stimulate evidence-based and creative solutions for improving health for women and children in Africa,” said conference co-chair Gillian Ice, Ph.D., director of Global Health for the Health Sciences Center.

For further information about registration for the conference, contact Steve Howard at or visit


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Last updated: 01/28/2016