Politics·Live Chat Replay

Canada's maternal health billions: From Bono to birth control, what's working?

Under the Conservatives, Canada's foreign aid has focused on the health of some of the world's poorest mothers and children. But the initiative was criticized for ruling out abortion. Laura Payton, just back from visiting Canadian projects in Tanzania and Haiti, takes your questions, along with our guest Saadya Hamdani from Plan Canada.

Replay our live chat with Travers fellow Laura Payton and Plan Canada's Saadya Hamdani

A boy waits at a health clinic in the Tabora region of Tanzania, one of the facilities that received funding under the government of Canada's Muskoka Initiative for maternal and child health. (Laura Payton/CBC)

Irish rock star Bono likes to quip that "the world needs more Canada." And as the musician-turned-activist stood up for an ovation in the House of Commons last week, Stephen Harper's Conservatives could point to their work on maternal and child health initiatives as doing Canada's bit towards helping the world's poorest people.

Canada has committed billions under the Muskoka Initiative. But how much do Canadians really understand about where the money is going, or what choices have been made about how it's being spent?

No foreign aid initiative is without its politics — foreign and domestic. Why were certain countries chosen? And why, for example, were abortion services excluded from the programming Canada would help fund?

The CBC's Laura Payton travelled to Tanzania and Haiti this spring to visit some of the projects Canadian money is paying for and learn more about how well Canada's efforts are working.

Saadya Hamdani, Plan Canada's gender equality advisor, also offered her expertise, including insights from her new study about how men need to be engaged to improve the health of women and children in the developing world.

The Travers Fellowship provided $25,000 in funding for Laura Payton's pitch to study whether Canada's key international development program was working. Read more about her series.