Recent U.N. statistics showing a drop in child mortality are both good and bad, because the number of child deaths continues to drop, but “progress isn’t reaching all families around the world, and it isn’t reaching newborn babies as often as older children,” Joy Lawn, director of Global Evidence and Policy for Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program, writes in a GlobalPost opinion piece. While the knowledge and technology exist to save lives, “too often, there is simply no one equipped to deliver basic lifesaving care to families who need it most. More than anything else, babies and children die for lack of frontline health workers,” she writes.
Health Workforce & Capacity
Three recent reports — a one-year assessment released by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) of the WHO on Tuesday, an analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington published on Tuesday in the Lancet, and a Save the Children report released on Monday entitled “No Child out of Reach” — examine the progress of the global campaign to save mothers and children under five in developing nations and evaluate whether Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, reducing child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015 and maternal deaths by three-quarters over the same period, can be met.
“Innovation can transform a company, a culture, and even the world. But innovation doesn’t have to come in the form of a gadget. It can come in the form of a smiling neighbor knocking at a family’s door, toting some basic supplies and the skills to address matters of life and death,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece.
The Washington Post examines how high rates of malnutrition among Somali children — approximately 36 percent under age five are malnourished and almost 16 percent are severely malnourished, according to Somalia’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit — are “the biggest test yet of recent improvements in assessing and treating malnutrition, changes that range from the coordination of care to the ingredients of food aid.”
Women Struggling To Find Truly Free Health Care In Sierra Leone's System, Amnesty International Report Says
“Sierra Leone’s free health care plan for pregnant women and young children is dysfunctional and hobbled by corruption and a lack of accountability,” according to a report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Amnesty International, Agence France-Presse reports. The nation’s free health care program for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under five years old was launched in April 2010 with support from UNICEF, the World Bank, the WHO and the U.K. Department for International Development, AFP notes (9/6).
Save The Children Index Measures Reach Of Health Care Workers, Ranks Best And Worst Countries For Child Health
A new index (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children measures the nationwide reach of health workers and ranks the best and worst countries for a child to fall sick in, with Chad and Somalia at the bottom and Switzerland and Finland at the top, according to a Save the Children press release (9/6). According to the analysis, “[c]hildren living in the 20 countries at the bottom of the index … are five times more likely to die than those further up the index, Save the Children said,” AlertNet reports (Batha, 9/6). The study also highlights countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, according to Reuters (Kelland, 9/6).
With more widespread access to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs “comes a greater need to monitor and promote the safety and effectiveness of these essential medicines in the new environments, which are distinct from those of pre-market studies and the resource rich countries that have had ARV access for years. Without sufficient monitoring systems in place, we can’t efficiently identify and stop counterfeiting of ARV drugs,” Jur Strobos, deputy director of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, and Andy Stergachis, professor of epidemiology and global health and director of the Global Medicines Program at School of Public Health at the University of Washington, write in an opinion piece in The Scientist.
“Recent fighting in Libya, especially in the capital Tripoli, has taken a toll on medical services with overstretched personnel working under very difficult conditions, and seriously ill and injured patients unable to reach hospitals and clinics, health workers say,” IRIN reports.
According to a 2011 report (.pdf) on HIV-related stigma in Egypt from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, “the health care sector was consistently identified by people living with HIV as a major source of stigma and discrimination,” PlusNews reports. “A study quoted in the report found that denial of care, breach of confidentiality, non-consensual testing, poor quality of care, gossip and blame were all frequent features of Egypt’s health care setting” and “[m]any of the 11,000 Egyptians living with HIV would rather suffer minor health problems than attempt to obtain health care,” the news service writes.
“Tripoli’s hospitals have put the worst behind them after an end to the fighting in Libya’s capital opened the way to a flood of aid and enabled medical staff to get back to work, aid agencies said on Monday,” Reuters reports, adding, “Although the violence in Tripoli has not completely ended, the relative peace has reassured aid agencies that they can now get into the capital.”