IRIN profiles the establishment of a “‘fistula hotline,’ a free phone number for women who suffer from this debilitating condition that is seldom spoken about,” at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre, a clinic in Freetown, Sierra Leone. “The fistula hotline, which is run by the center, is the result of a public-private partnership between the Gloag Foundation, USAID, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and telecommunications company Airtel,” IRIN notes.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
The WHO “said on Monday it has received just one application for the U.N. health agency’s top post,” from China, which submitted Margaret Chan, the current WHO director-general and former Hong Kong health chief, Agence France-Presse reports. “An executive board meeting in Geneva between January 16 and 23 will decide whether to put the name forward to the World Health Assembly in May, which would make the final decision regarding the appointment,” the news agency writes (11/21).
Relief Officials Concerned Over Malnutrition Among Children In Ethiopian Refugee Camps Despite Food Aid
Humanitarian aid officials are concerned about high levels of malnutrition among young children at the Dolo Ado refugee camps in southern Ethiopia “despite the free availability of Plumpy’nut, a peanut-based paste in a plastic wrapper for treatment of severe acute malnutrition,” the Guardian reports. “‘Maybe they’re not eating it properly,’ said Giorgia Testolin, head of the refugee section of the World Food Programme Ethiopia. ‘The food is there, there is easy access, but why is the situation so bad? This needs to be investigated,'” the newspaper writes, adding a report (.pdf) out last month from USAID and the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET) noted some refugees, including children, sell or trade Plumpy’nut for other supplies, such as sugar, tea leaves, powder milk and meat. Overcrowding in the camps also presents problems, as 8,000 people await the opening of a fifth camp, which has been delayed because proper sanitation facilities are not yet ready, according to relief officials, the newspaper notes (Tran, 11/22).
“The triple threat of HIV, poverty and food insecurity is increasingly exposing children to abuse, exploitation and other human rights violations” in Lesotho, Inter Press Service reports in an article examining child poverty in the small southern African country. “In the country of 1.8 million, a good 500,000 out of 825,000 boys and girls live under 1.25 dollars a day and without proper shelter, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Almost 40 percent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition and are stunted. Both under-five and infant mortality have persistently gone up in the past decade,” IPS writes, adding, “To make matters worse, Lesotho is one of the three countries in the world worst affected by HIV/AIDS. Every fourth Basotho is infected with the virus, leaving a quarter of children orphaned” (Palitza, 11/23).
Report Highlights Improvement In Children’s Well-Being, But Health Organizations Call For Stronger Political Commitment To Maintain Progress
“Children’s well-being has improved dramatically thanks to increased global political will and efficient supportive programs and policies, according to a report released [Wednesday] by [UNICEF] and Save the Children U.K., but it also warns that benefits need to reach the most disadvantaged children for gains to be sustainable,” the U.N. News Centre reports, adding, “Among the most prominent accomplishments highlighted by the report is the significant decline in child mortality rates.” According to the news service, “The authors of the report cite a number of factors for these advancements, but place particular emphasis on the high-level commitment and supportive government policies that have placed children’s well-being as a priority” (11/23).
“Afghans are living longer, fewer infants are dying and more women are surviving childbirth because health care has dramatically improved around the country in the past decade, according to a national survey released Wednesday,” the Associated Press/Guardian reports. The survey, conducted by the Afghan Health Ministry in 2010 and “sponsored and funded by international organizations such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the U.S. government and the British Department for International Development,” “indicates that increased access to health care in Afghanistan, more hospitals and clinics, and more trained health care workers and doctors have significantly contributed to an overall improvement in the health of most Afghans,” the AP writes (11/30).
The percentage of pregnant women living with HIV in South Africa “has inched up to 30.2 percent from 29.4 percent last year,” according to the annual National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence survey released by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in Pretoria on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reports (11/29). The survey “sampled over 32,000 pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in October last year,” South Africa’s Times Live notes (11/30).
“Decades of neglect, a failing health system and remote mountainous topography have created a ‘crisis in maternal health,’ according to a government taskforce in Papua New Guinea (PNG),” IRIN reports. “While progress has been made since the taskforce released its recommendations in 2009, some 250 women are still dying for every 100,000 live births, according to a 2008 inter-agency estimate,” the news service writes, adding, “Maternal mortality rates in PNG doubled from 1996-2006, states the government’s most recent national health survey.”
“Although advances in vaccines, nutrition and family health have dramatically reduced the number of child deaths in the past 50 years, nearly eight million children younger than five still die every year,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in this CNN opinion piece. She adds, “To me, this number is unacceptable, because most of these deaths could be avoided” by providing antibiotics, sterile medical supplies, or education on breastfeeding, as well by improving access to nutrient-rich foods and effective contraceptives.
A new report by Janet Fleischman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, titled “The Global Health Initiative in Malawi: New Approaches and Challenges to Reaching Women and Girls,” examines the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI) in Malawi, stating, “The GHI team in Malawi has identified the health of women…