The African Medical and Research Foundation [AMREF] has selected Esther Madudu, a midwife at the Tiriri health center in northeast Uganda, to lead its global campaign, Stand Up for African Mothers, the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” reports. The goal of the project is to reduce maternal deaths worldwide by 25 percent and train an additional 30,000 midwives, “including 10,000 in Uganda,” according to the blog. Madudu will travel to France this week, “where she will address delegates at the Women’s Forum Global meeting, alongside Uganda’s minister of health, Christine Ondoa,” the blog notes (Ford, 10/12).
Access to Health Services
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Melissa Sharer, AIDSTAR-One senior care and support officer at John Snow, Inc., writes, “Although treatment is now widely available and [people living with HIV (PLHIV)] are able to live normal and active lives for many years, their mental health needs are often overlooked in care, treatment, and support programs.” Sharer highlights the success of programs in Vietnam and in Uganda that “combine mental health and existing health services.”
Time examines the issue of maternal mortality in Afghanistan, where the Health Ministry says “about 18,000 Afghan women die during childbirth every year.” The magazine writes, “According to a recent report by the NGO Save the Children, Afghanistan ranked as the worst place to give birth, followed by Niger and Chad,” Time writes, adding that getting women in rural areas to hospitals, a lack of midwives and a stigma against pregnancy “because it’s a public acknowledgement of sex with their spouses” are all challenges to improving maternal health in Afghanistan. The magazine highlights the HHS-funded Afghan Safe Birth Project, which has “has helped reduce deaths during [caesarean] sections at [Kabul’s Rabia Balkhi Hospital] by 80 percent” since 2008, according to Faizullah Kakar, an epidemiologist and special adviser on health to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Time reports. “[I]n April, the U.S. government cut the program’s $5.8 million annual funding, and Kakar says the Afghan government doesn’t have the money to keep it going,” the magazine notes (Kakissis, 10/11).
In this Washington Times Communities column, Anwaar Abdalla, a lecturer on Civilization and Cultural Affairs at Egypt’s Helwan University, writes, “While breast cancer is a global issue, in Egypt, the figure for people suffering from breast cancer is alarming,” adding, “According to official statistics of the National Cancer Institute (Cairo University), breast cancer accounts for 35.1 percent of the cases of cancer in Egypt.”
“India’s Aurobindo Pharma has become the first major generic drugmaker to join” the Medicines Patent Pool, launched by the UNITAID health financing system and “designed to make HIV/AIDS treatments more widely available to the poor,” Reuters reports. “The Medicines Patent Pool said on Tuesday the agreement would allow Aurobindo to make a range of AIDS drugs licensed to the pool by Gilead Sciences, the leading maker of HIV drugs, in July,” according to the news service. “Aurobindo has also elected to take advantage of a key provision in the pool’s licenses in order to sell one drug, tenofovir, to a wide range of countries without paying royalties,” Reuters writes, adding, “These could include several middle-income countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ukraine and Uruguay” (Hirschler, 10/11).
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Food Program and Engender Health have partnered with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health in “a campaign to treat and end obstetric fistula in women in Rwanda,” the New Times/AllAfrica.com reports. Through the campaign, “at least 50 women are expected to be treated by Issa Labou, a urologist from Senegal, assisted by a team of Rwandan physicians during an exercise to be held at Kibogora Hospital, Nyamasheke District, Western Province from 10-21 October 2011,” according to Anicet Nzabonimpa, the family planning and HIV integration coordinator in Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, the newspaper writes. “We commit to supporting government’s efforts to fully integrate services that are permanent for on-going, continuous and holistic care of obstetric fistula cases until we entirely end this preventable and treatable condition,’ she said,” according to the New Times (10/9).
In this RH Reality Check opinion piece, Matthew Kavanagh, director of U.S. advocacy at Health GAP (Global Access Project), and Dazon Dixon Diallo, founder and president of SisterLove, Incorporated, write, “With proof that treatment is prevention, and with this basket of broader prevention options, scientists and economists have finally been able to show what few could before: models of how we end the AIDS crisis.”
“Economically vulnerable Greeks are losing health care access amid dwindling budgets, facing higher risks of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases, and in some cases, even dying, according to a study released online Monday by The Lancet,” the Associated Press/ABC News reports (Torchia, 10/10). “There were about 40 percent cuts in hospital budgets, understaffing, reported occasional shortage of medical supplies, and bribes given to medical staff to jump queues in overstretched hospitals,” the authors wrote, according to BBC News. “At the same time there was a 24 percent increase in public hospital admissions, partly fuelled by fewer patients using private hospitals,” BBC writes (Gallagher, 10/9).
WHO Releases Report Highlighting Global Underinvestment In Mental Health Care As World Commemorates Mental Health Day
The WHO “is calling on governments to increase services for people suffering from mental, neurological and substance use disorders,” VOA News reports. The WHO’s “Mental Health Atlas 2011,” “released to coincide with World Mental Health Day, which falls on October 10, finds countries all over the world spend very little on the treatment of mental illness,” according to VOA (Schlein, 10/9). According to the report, “One in four people will require mental health care at some point in their lives but in many countries only two percent of all health sector resources are invested in mental health services,” a WHO press release states (10/7).
The Huffington Post profiles Philippe Douste-Blazy, U.N. under-secretary-general of Innovative Financing for Development and chair of UNITAID, a financing mechanism he conceived in 2004 to help provide medicines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries. The article discusses Douste-Blazy’s work and background, UNITAID, and other innovative financing schemes (Lines, 10/6).