NPR’s All Things Considered reports on efforts to improve maternal health in Mozambique. The piece, which is part of a summer series, looks at the challenges involved with getting pregnant women to hospitals and shortages of trained health worker (Block, 6/27). A second report on NPR’s Morning Edition examines Mozambique’s doctor shortage. NPR correspondent Melissa Block, who traveled to Mozambique to report on maternal and child health, is interviewed (Montagne, 6/27).
Health Workforce & Capacity
Calestous Juma, an author and professor at Harvard Kennedy School, writes in an East African opinion piece that as South Sudan prepares for independence on July 9, it “is the time” for the country “to chart a new path by defining a new role for its military” by “shift[ing] its military budget to development objectives.”
IRIN Examines Factors Influencing Health Worker Migration And How Countries Working Toward Solutions
In this article, “IRIN took a look at some of the push and pull factors behind health worker migration, and what countries are doing to address them.”
BMJ reports on the health affects of civil unrest in South Sudan, which will become the world’s newest country on July 9.
Polio Vaccination Campaign In Darfur Shows Immunizations Possible In 'Emergency And Conflict Settings'
In an Inter Press Service opinion piece, Siddharth Chatterjee, chief diplomat and head of strategic partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Sam Agbo, an independent public health adviser in the U.K., write about the unstable situation in Darfur, Sudan, in 2004, and how “UNICEF and WHO in Sudan along with important NGO partners started planning with local authorities on how best to immunize all children in Darfur.” They outline the major challenges, including staff safety, and discuss how multi-agency teams were able to vaccinate 10,000 children in two immunization rounds. Chatterjee and Agbo add, “The polio immunization campaign was the driver for a wider process of improving and ramping up assistance to communities and this made the campaign attractive to mothers to bring their children to the immunization hubs that were established.”
“Women working as female health care volunteers [FHCVs] often provide a vital service for the poorest in mountainous Nepal, and have contributed to a steady improvement in maternal and neonatal survival rates,” IRIN reports. In Nepal, 52,000 FHCVs work nationwide, often in remote regions, to refer women and children to health centers and help raise money for their trips, according to the news service. Many experts believe the FHCVs have played a key role in reducing Nepal’s maternal mortality ratio and increasing the proportion of births attended by a skilled birth attendant or that take place in a health facility, IRIN notes. “The FCHV program was launched in 1988 in 19 districts in the mid-west (Nepal’s poorest region), with the purpose of improving maternal and neonatal care, according to the Health Ministry,” IRIN writes, adding, “Despite being regarded as key to the state’s public health program, the government provides them with virtually no support” (10/5).
To mark World Polio Day, the New York Times’ “India Ink” blog features an interview with Naveen Thacker, a member of the team that led India’s polio eradication efforts. The country has not recorded a new case of polio since January 2011 and is in line to be declared polio-free in January 2014 if no new cases occur, according to the blog. Thacker said “strong leadership and political support at every level of government,” including public-private partnerships, were critical to eradication efforts, the blog notes. “To remain polio-free we must ensure the maintenance of our highly sensitive surveillance system, so that we can detect outbreaks early, and we must also sustain high levels of polio immunization through routine immunization,” Thacker said, adding, “Globally, we’ve made amazing progress, but 99 percent reduction in polio cases isn’t good enough. We need to finish the job,” according to the blog (Raina, 10/24).
“Construction has begun on Ethiopia’s National Public Health Training Center, the first of its kind to be established in the country at a cost of $4 million,” Malaysian News Agency Bernama reports, noting, “The U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) committed to the cost of the project, while the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will manage the construction of the ground and three facilities which are expected to be completed by April 2014” (10/23). “It will be the first national training center for health, according to the press statement from the United States Embassy in Ethiopia,” according to New Business Ethiopia, which adds, “The new national public health training center will be a state-of-the-art facility that will act as a training and support hub for Ethiopia’s national public health monitoring, research, and laboratory network” (10/23).
In this post in the Public Health Institute’s (PHI) “Dialogue4Health” blog, Jeff Meer, director of PHI’s Washington-based advocacy on global health, reports on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, launched Wednesday, which is “developing support for new investments in the global health workforce, particularly those working at the community level who are the first and often the only link to health care for millions of people.” He outlines the Coalition’s targets and quotes a number of officials indicating “that the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress are coming to adopt the same view” (1/11).
Rwanda is expanding its medical male circumcision program this year, “as the country attempts to reach its goal of medically circumcising 50 percent of men by June 2013 as part of HIV prevention efforts,” PlusNews reports. “The free male circumcision program began in October 2011, and officials at the Ministry of Health say demand is growing,” according to the news service. However, with only 15 percent of men circumcised and a shortage of qualified health care workers, “the goal is unlikely to be met unless lower cadre health workers are involved in the campaign,” PlusNews writes.