Baylor College of Medicine and Horizons Trust UK have signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate joint educational and clinical training and research activities between the two institutions with the goal of advancing maternal health in The Gambia in West Africa.

Horizons’ goal is to improve healthcare through the development of an affordable and sustainable healthcare model in The Gambia. According to Horizons, a woman in Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying during pregnancy and childbirth or of suffering significant morbidity compared to 1 in 4,000 in the developed world. 

“The goal of the relationship between Baylor and Horizons is to bring innovations in healthcare delivery to improve human health in The Gambia,” said Dr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy, director of Baylor Global Initiatives and professor of medicine in the section of gastroenterology at Baylor. “By implementing programs such as women’s health that are focused on quality, local healthcare capacity building and sustainability, we can work toward improving healthcare in The Gambia.”

Initially, the project focus will be collaborating to improve maternal health by aiming to decrease maternal mortality rates and increase capacity building. 

“Horizons’ vision is to provide quality healthcare throughout Africa so that deaths during pregnancy and childbirth are decreased,” said Dr. James N’Dow, professor of urological surgery at the University of Aberdeen and founder of Horizons Trust. “Horizons Trust aims to provide quality international standard healthcare for those who desperately need it but who have no financial means. Horizons Trust has already started doing desperately needed charitable work in The Gambia, focusing on improving healthcare for pregnant women and children less than 2 years old by providing training to health professionals and cleaning out outreach childbirth facilities. In time, Horizons Trust will increase access to high-quality care through community outreach centers. Critical to the success of the Horizons vision is local healthcare staff capacity building to help strengthen The Gambian health system which can only be achieved through education and training, collaborating with the world’s best. This is why this collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine is so special."

This important first step provides the foundation and framework for future projects developed by clinical, academic and administrative units from the two institutions.