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International Cooperation Series: Hygeia and its partners receive a Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship

Nearly $300,000 to strengthen human resources and research involving the health of women, female adolescents, and girls (WFAG) in West Africa.

"The awarding of this grant underscores the relevance of our Hygeia network's mission with respect to women in the Francophonie," explains Professor Marie Hatem.

With financial support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program supports projects that seek solutions to major national and international issues and that strive to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Selected from among 11 projects, the Hygeia network initiative, led by Marie Hatem, a full professor at the School of Public Health (ESPUM), and several partners, will have as its main objectives to strengthen the collaboration, leadership, and networking of Canadian and global francophone health human resources, as well as to reinforce skills within institutions by bolstering their reputation as promoters of gender equality and gender equity in the area of health and the struggle to combat violence against women, female adolescents, and girls.

The Hygeia network benefits from the expertise of professors Lise Lamothe (from ESPUM) and Violaine Lemay (from the faculties of arts and sciences and law), and from Dr. Isabelle Krauss, coordinator of the initiative and project manager at CHU Sainte-Justine. Since its inception, Hygeia has been promoting and supporting the empowerment of WFAGs in the field of health, a strategy which is essential to achieving various SDGs. The project will integrate its dynamic, innovative philosophy, a credo adapted to the socio-cultural diversity within and between countries and focused on solidarity-based and sustainable empowerment.

Benefiting from a close collaboration between the ESPUM and the faculties of medicine, nursing, law, arts, and sciences, this international cooperation initiative will be able to count on the contribution of important African partners: the West African Health Organization (WAHO) and its network in 15 countries; the ICART-PANZI Center, directed by the renowned gynecologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Denis Mukwege; the Denis Mukwege Center of Excellence of the Evangelical University in Africa; the Higher Institute of Nurses and Midwives (ISSI-Kinshasa); and the Civil Society Health Network of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Twenty Francophone scholarship holders from West Africa and Canada (at least 60% of whom are women) will be able to enhance their skills through research activities, community internships, webinars, conferences, and workshops. These formative activities will be offered in social-health and legal settings from an experiential, transformational, and interdisciplinary perspective. 

A solid foundation

With extensive involvement in health in Africa, the Hygeia network will benefit from important health tools and resources developed through agreements with participating African partners.

The collaboration agreement between UdeM and the Panzi Foundation signed in 2019 includes activities aimed at capacity building; the development of joint research projects; the provision of mobility internships between Canada and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and backing for the women's support and empowerment program. This collaboration also involves administration of the ICART research center by the Hygeia director.

In addition, the Hygeia network is collaborating with WAHO to support the revision and harmonization of nursing and midwifery curricula in the higher institutes of the 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States. Since 2009, Hygeia has been active in the Higher Institute of Nurses and Midwives (ISSI-Kinshasa) of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a master’s level program for paramedics and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program have been developed.

You want to develop an international cooperation project?

Contact Nathalie Pelletier, International Projects Officer at the International Affairs Office.