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Al Jazeera Examines Cuba's National Health Care System; IPS Looks At HIV/AIDS In The Country

In a feature story, Al Jazeera examines Cuba’s national health care system, which “works — or is supposed to work — by emphasizing primary and preventative health care.” However, after subsidies from the former Soviet Union “ended and Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin, nothing was the same again,” according to the news agency, which notes the system experiences drug shortages, patients have long wait times, and some hospitals are dirty or malfunctioning. “In all fairness, in the past five years, the government has made great efforts to improve hospitals and health centers, but again, lack of resources is making the process painfully slow,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “The system is free, but it is neither fast nor efficient for two important reasons. One is obviously the lack of financial resources, and the other — which is related to the first — is the ‘export’ of doctors, nurses and dentists in exchange for hard currency.” The feature concludes, “But for all its shortcomings, Cubans do have better access to health care than the majority of those living in many ‘developing nations,’ where public health is shockingly inadequate” (Newman, 6/18).

Affordability Of Diarrhea Treatment Offers Hope For Improving Child Survival

In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Doug Horswill, senior vice president of the Canadian resource company Teck, and Venkatesh Mannar, president of the Micronutrient Initiative, which works to eliminate vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the world’s most vulnerable populations, examine global efforts to end child deaths from diarrhea, a campaign they say “many are calling the next revolution in child survival.” “Diarrhea kills up to one million children every year,” they write, adding, “It is a terrible waste of life and untapped potential, made even more terrible by the fact that it costs less than a dollar to treat” with oral rehydration salts and zinc supplements.

Interventions Aimed At Preventing, Treating Pneumonia In Children Need To Be Expanded In Developing World

“This month, USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) joins countries around the world in celebrating International Children’s Day,” Dyness Kasungami, a child health team leader for MCHIP, writes in the Huffington Post Blog, adding, “While great strides in child survival have been made in the past years, we also remember those children who do not live to see their fifth birthday — the 7.6 million children who die of preventable causes each year.” She notes, “Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children under five, killing 1.4 million children each year, more than tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria combined,” and continues, “Children can be protected from pneumonia through behavioral interventions such as adequate nutrition during childhood, hand washing, and reducing indoor air pollution by using improved, well-ventilated stoves.”

Opinion Pieces Address Child Survival Call to Action

The governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, in collaboration with UNICEF, on Thursday launched the Child Survival Call to Action in Washington, D.C., during a two-day event that brings together world leaders, public health experts, child health advocates and others in an effort to reduce child mortality to 20 per 1,000 by 2035 worldwide, with the ultimate goal of ending preventable child deaths. The following summarizes several opinion pieces addressing the effort.

The Guardian Examines Results Of Countdown To 2015 Report, Provides Interactive Map

“More than 50 countries look set to miss both Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for cutting mortality rates for young children and mothers by the 2015 deadline, according to” the Countdown to 2015 report, “Building a Future for Women and Children,” released by the WHO on Wednesday, the Guardian reports. “The Countdown report echoes many findings of the WHO’s World Health Statistics 2012 survey, published last month, which found that although improvements in the poorest areas have accelerated, ‘large variations in health … persist both between and within countries,'” the newspaper notes. The Guardian goes on to detail the key findings of the report and provides a link to an interactive map of key indicators for progress on health-related MDGs (6/14).

Governments, Private Sector Partners Come Together At Child Survival Call To Action In Washington

The two-day Child Survival Call to Action, “a conference hosted by the government in collaboration with Ethiopia, India and UNICEF to recognize and promote efforts to curtail child mortality,” began in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports, noting that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and actor Ben Affleck, founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, “were two of more than 80 governmental, civil society and business leaders slated to speak at the conference Thursday and Friday.” During her speech, Clinton said improving child health “cannot be just a job for governments,” and she “announced that more than 60 faith-based organizations from 40 countries were joining the fight to end preventable childhood deaths through promotion of breastfeeding, vaccines and health care for children,” the news service writes (6/14).

Hillary Clinton Announces New Initiatives At Child Survival Call To Action

Speaking at the Child Survival Call to Action on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “announced the establishment of a unique and historic global development alliance (GDA) — Survive and Thrive: Professional Associations, Private Sector and Global Health Scholars Saving Mothers, Newborns and Children — to improve survival rates for…

Preventable Childhood Deaths Can Be Nearly Eliminated In 10 Years, Researchers Write

“Preventable childhood deaths caused by illnesses such as pneumonia and diarrhea can be nearly eliminated in 10 years,” researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Institutes of Health write in a new commentary featured in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association,” a Johns Hopkins press release reports. In the commentary, “researchers outline a strategy and benchmarks for curbing childhood preventable deaths and recommend a new common vision for a global commitment to end all preventable child deaths,” the press release notes (6/14).

Opinion Pieces, Blog Posts Address Child Survival Call to Action

The governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, in collaboration with UNICEF, today are scheduled to launch the Child Survival Call to Action in Washington, D.C., a two-day event that brings together world leaders, public health experts, child health advocates and others in an effort to reduce child mortality to 20 per 1,000 by 2035 worldwide, with the ultimate goal of ending preventable child deaths. The following summarizes several opinion pieces and blog posts addressing the effort.

Fewer Mothers, Children Dying Globally, But Progress Varies Greatly Among Countries, Report Says

“Deaths of mothers giving birth in developing countries have dropped by nearly half since 1990, while deaths of children under five have fallen from 12 million to 7.6 million, according to a new report released Wednesday by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),” the Los Angeles Times reports. “A few countries have made ‘spectacular progress’ toward lowering death rates, but some others have made virtually no progress at all, according to the report, ‘Building a Future for Women and Children,’ which was published under the auspices of the Countdown to 2015 Initiative,” the newspaper writes (Maugh, 6/13). “The report assesses the progress that the 75 highest-burden countries are making towards achieving U.N. Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (MDGs),” a Countdown to 2015 press release states, noting, “These MDGs call for reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters and the deaths of children under five by two-thirds, both by 2015 compared to 1990 levels” (6/13).