The Guardian examines a new Millennium Villages Project (MVP) — “the integrated approach to rural development spearheaded by Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute” — that was launched last week in northern Uganda “by Ghana’s new president John Dramani Mahama and U.K. international development secretary Andrew Mitchell.” According to the newspaper, “Like the 13 other MVP sites … the project will attempt to provide a package of proven, science-based interventions for agriculture, education, health and rural infrastructure.”
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
“After 14 years in limbo,” legislation being considered by the Philippines Congress would “requir[e] the government to provide contraceptives, information on modern family planning methods at public health centers, and comprehensive reproductive health curriculum in schools,” CNN reports. “National surveys show 65-70 percent of Filipinos support the bill, but it faces fierce opposition by the country’s Roman Catholic Church leaders,” according to the news service (Lichauco de Leon, 9/4). “When Philippines President Benigno Aquino III delivered his annual state of the union address in July, he appealed to the country’s lawmakers to break a deadlock” on the reproductive health bill, Inter Press Service writes (Macan-Markar, 9/4).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Gary Darmstadt, head of the Family Health Division of the foundation, Wendy Prosser, a research analyst with the Family Health Division, and Damian Walker, a senior program officer at the foundation, examine efforts to stop the transmission of syphilis from mother to child during labor and delivery. “[W]e have been depending on doing only one thing to eliminate the transmission of syphilis from a mom to her baby, and doing it for years: antenatal care,” they write. However, “eliminating congenital syphilis only through screening of pregnant women — is not working,” the authors state, and discuss “other innovative ideas that need exploration,” including the development of a vaccine (9/13).
Chris Thomas of the USAID Bureau for Global Health writes in the agency’s “IMPACT Blog,” “America’s legacy in child survival is a proud one: With strong bipartisan support, U.S. support of global health has saved many millions of lives.” He discusses a “child survival revolution” launched 30 years ago by USAID, UNICEF, and Congress “aimed at reducing the number of deaths among young children in developing countries,” and he notes the annual number of under-five child deaths has dropped from 15 million worldwide to less than seven million since then. He adds, “But a child dying anywhere in the world is a tragic loss and undermines peace and stability,” and he describes USAID’s work to help implement innovations in child survival, including the Child Survival Call to Action (9/13).
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said Nigeria was not on track in the effort to eradicate wild polio virus before the end of December this year,” Leadership/AllAfrica.com reports. Speaking at the 24th Expert Review Committee (ERC) Meeting on Polio Eradication in Abuja, Bruce Aylward, WHO assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration, said Nigeria had the tools and capacity to turn back the increasing number of polio cases that pose a “real and growing danger to international public health,” the news service notes. Aylward “recommended eight major steps for polio eradication for the country, including the implementation of the new house-based micro planning and monitoring method,” refresher training for all personnel to emphasize the emergency status declared by the WHO, and the identification and immunization of missed children and those in insecure areas, among others, according to the news service. ERC Chair Tomori Oyewale “called on Nigerians to change their attitude to polio eradication to ensure the success of the fight against the virus,” the news service writes (9/11).
Inter Press Service examines the reaction to calls for the WHO “to reverse its listing in April 2011 of misoprostol among essential medicines that ‘satisfy the health care needs of the majority of the population’ and are ‘available at all times in adequate amounts and in appropriate dosage forms, at a price the community can afford'” as a result of a study published in the August issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. “Originally intended for treating gastric ulcers, misoprostol has since 2000 been gaining in popularity for its ability to induce labor and stop postpartum hemorrhage (PPH),” according to the news service.
“Stunting is a key factor holding back progress on children’s well-being, and Asia faces a significant challenge with millions of children under five stunted,” according to Save the Children’s 2012 Child Development Index (CDI), IRIN reports. The news service examines data from the 2012 State of the World’s Children report (.pdf), noting that nearly 60 percent of children under five in Afghanistan and Timor Leste have moderate to severe stunting, which puts children “at greater risk of illness and death, impaired cognitive development and poor school performance, say health experts.”
In a series of “News Focus” articles in Science, the magazine examines the global effort to eradicate polio. One article examines the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) — a partnership of the WHO, Rotary International, UNICEF, the CDC, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — and recent reports on the program by an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), “an oversight body” that provides feedback and guidance. A second and third article look at efforts to vaccinate children against polio in Pakistan, which “is the perfect case study for why it is so hard to eradicate poliovirus from its last few strongholds — and what it might take to pull it off.” The WHO’s Chris Maher “and others attribute the explosion of cases last year to a perfect storm of all the problems that are Pakistan: poverty and illiteracy; a health system in tatters; ethnic and sectarian violence; a government struggling to deal with corruption and dysfunction; huge population movements; and, especially since 9/11, rising extremism and anti-Western views — not to mention the natural attrition that accompanies any program that has dragged on for so long,” according to Science (Roberts, 8/3).
Noting more than one month has passed since the Child Survival Call to Action event in Washington, D.C., during which stakeholders came together in support of the UNICEF-led initiative “A Promise Renewed,” USAID Senior Adviser Nicole Schiegg introduces a new tumblr blog from the agency that will feature U.S. action on child survival in a post on USAID’s “Impact” blog. “We’ll be updating this feed with quotes from U.S. Government officials, new products like fact sheets, and photos from field visits and follow up events,” she writes, adding, “Our goal is to show the U.S. Government’s continued support and emphasis on children’s health and survival” (8/6).
Communal Violence In India Forces Up To 400,000 Into Overcrowded Camps Without Sufficient Food, Water, Medicine
“Hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in squalid, overcrowded camps in India’s northeast desperately need food, water and medicines after fleeing some of the worst communal violence in a decade, officials and aid workers said on Monday,” AlertNet reports. Up to 400,000 people have fled to government-run camps in Assam state, the news service notes, adding Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We are in a state of high alert. … People in the camps are suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, malaria and high fever. We are concerned about the condition of the babies and pregnant women.” According to AlertNet, “Sarma said around 8,000 children under two-years-old are sick, while hundreds of others have tested positive for malaria. There are also around 4,000 pregnant women in the camps who need medical support, he added.” The news service notes that at least 12 people have died, including four children (Bhalla, 8/6).