The 8th International Conference on Mother and Child Health Handbook was held in Nairobi (at Multi Media University) from the 22nd to 25th of October in 2012. It was the first time to hold this conference in Africa, and this was realised by the big initiative of Professor Miriam Were, the first laureate of the Noguchi Hideyo Africa Prize established by the Japanese Government, and the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in Kenya. More than 10 African countries, including Kenya and various Asian countries attended the mile-stoned conference. One of them is Japan, which established MCH Handbook after the World War II and has fully utilised it to develop the country.
The Government of Japan supported the Government of Kenya to hold this conference by inviting experts from other countries to share their experiences in the introduction of MCH handbooks in their countries. A reception was also held. Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Yamada attended this conference and gave opening remarks.
The MCH Handbook was introduced in Japan in the late 1940s. It was a time when infant mortality rate in Japan was high, at more than 70 for every 1000 births, because of wide-spread hunger, poverty and destruction in the wake of the war. As a result of great effort, including the MCH Handbook, the rate came down to around 3 in 2000. The MCH Handbook is not expensive at all and is not a high-tech invention either. African countries have started to think about its introduction to tackle major challenges such as high mortality rate (Kenya has already introduced the MCH Handbook nationwide).
After the meaningful discussions throughout the conference, the participants agreed on a “Joint Africa Call for Action” to introduce and utilise MCH handbooks in Africa in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (especially MDG 4 and 5, which are related to maternal and child health).