Millennium Cities Initiative, a center of the Earth Institute at Columbia University
Where Extreme Poverty Ends and Urban Transformations Begin
The Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI), a project of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, helps selected, under-resourced sub-Saharan African cities attain the Millennium Development Goals and eradicate extreme poverty. MCI has strived to improve the health of women and children in the Millennium Cities, and to create opportunities for girls and women by improving access to education, health care and improved water and sanitation. MCI recently launched a maternal and neonatal health program in Ghana's two largest cities, together with Johnson & Johnson, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), AmeriCares and Government of Ghana health officials, training medical professionals and laypeople in "Helping Babies Breathe," a neonatal resuscitation program developed by the AAP. Those trained, in turn, trained mothers in newborn care and infant and family health. Many newborn lives were saved, and hundreds of mothers grew wiser, about breast-feeding, family nutrition, hygiene and the importance of clean water and sanitation.
When mothers and fathers in developing country settings can know that their healthy children will survive into adulthood, their comfort about their own futures will grow, they feel less compelled to produce large families and fertility rates can come down, easing the pressure on social service delivery and on the built and natural environment alike. Targeted, cost-effective and innovative programs such as this one, designed to improve child and maternal survival, ensure food security, increase access to clean water and improved sanitation, and address environmental sustainability are the best – indeed, the only way – to make a seven-billion person planet safe for human fulfillment and the preservation of the natural world.