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Polio Eradication Efforts Threatened By Funding Shortfall, Vaccination Resistance In Some Countries, Experts Say

Marking the 10th anniversary since Europe was declared polio-free, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative on Wednesday released a report (.pdf) saying there is “a unique window of opportunity to stamp out polio for good,” with the number of reported cases at historical lows, but a funding shortfall of about $1 million is threatening eradication progress, Reuters reports. Polio “remains endemic in three countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria — after India in January became the latest country to become polio-free,” the news agency notes. IMB Chair Liam Donaldson “said the global financial crisis coupled with growing needs for polio funding had led to a shortfall of $945 million out of a total 2012-13 eradication program budget of $2 billion” and that 33 countries would have to cancel their vaccination programs, leaving 94 million children unprotected, according to Reuters (Kelland, 6/20).

Forbes Interviews UNFPA Executive Director Regarding Global Progress In Reducing Maternal Mortality

In this post in the Forbes “Leadership” blog, contributor Rahim Kanani interviews U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin about a report titled “Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2010” — released by UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank in May — “which shows that the annual number of women who die in pregnancy or childbirth has dropped from more than 543,000 to 287,000, a decline of 47 percent.” Among other topics, they discuss key findings of the report, highlight which regions of the world made the most progress, and note some of the “most promising interventions to reduce the number of women around the world dying in childbirth” (6/7).

Family Planning Summit Next Month 'Could Mark Turning Point For Maternal Health'

In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin discusses a family planning summit to be held in London next month, writing the UNFPA “is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.” He writes, “More than 200 million women, largely in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can’t access them,” and continues, “Enabling women to control the number and spacing of their children is essential to reducing maternal deaths.” The summit, co-hosted by the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “will be launched to meet this unfilled need for modern family planning in developing countries by tackling the estimated $3.6 billion (£2.3 billion) annual shortfall in investment (.pdf),” he adds.

Zimbabwe's Successful PMTCT Efforts Serve As A 'Model' For Other Countries In Drive To Eliminate Pediatric AIDS

“Zimbabwe is one of the key countries to watch in the drive to eliminate pediatric AIDS in Africa,” Chip Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, adding, “Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and its international partners — including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.K. Department for International Development (DfID), and most recently the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) — have helped turn the tide of the pandemic in children.” He writes, “In June 2011 at the United Nations, a Global Plan was introduced to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015,” and notes, “Zimbabwe was among the first of many countries to answer the call.”

USAID Administrator Shah Addresses Fight Against HIV In Children

In this post in the AIDS.gov blog, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah discusses global efforts to end HIV infections in children. “Together with PEPFAR, our efforts have made a significant difference in promoting access to prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services, helping to cut new pediatric infections in half in the past decade,” Shah writes, adding “We’ve also helped support 9.8 million pregnant women with HIV testing and counseling and provided PMTCT services to more than 660,000 HIV-positive women. As a result, approximately 200,000 infants were born free of HIV” (6/1).

U.S., Norway Announce New Public-Private Initiative To Improve Maternal Health In Developing Countries

Speaking at a health conference in Norway on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. would provide $75 million toward a new public-private effort, dubbed “Saving Mothers, Giving Life,” which aims “to improve the health of mothers and their babies in developing countries,” Agence France-Presse reports (Mannion, 6/2). “At the same conference, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr said Norway would devote up to about $80 million to the effort, whose partners include drug maker Merck & Co. and nonprofit Every Mother Counts,” Reuters writes (Mohammed, 6/1). “Starting in Uganda and Zambia, [the initiative] is focusing on helping mothers during labor, delivery, and during the first 24 hours after a birth, when two of every three maternal deaths occur and 45 percent of newborn deaths occur,” VOA News reports (Stearns, 6/1).

'Saving Mothers' Initiative 'First Concrete Expression' Of How GHI Can Change The Way The U.S. Operates In Global Health Arena

In this post in the Global Post’s “Global Pulse” blog, Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the Global Health Policy Center of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), reports on the “Saving Mothers, Giving Life” initiative, launched by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday. She describes the project as “an ambitious, dynamic effort by the U.S. government to increase efficiency, spur innovation, and ensure impact in a fundamental area of global health” and writes, “If successful, ‘Saving Mothers’ will be an important dimension of Clinton’s legacy as Secretary, lifting the lives of women, families, and communities around the world.”

Child Survival Call To Action Event Signals A 'Hopeful Moment' In Global Health

“Helping mothers give birth to HIV-free children is an essential piece of the puzzle of ending preventable child deaths,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in this post in the AIDS.gov blog, adding, “Yet 390,000 infants around the globe were born with the virus in 2010.” He continues, “Science has long established that providing mothers with antiretroviral drugs can prevent them from transmitting the virus to their children — as well as keeping the mothers alive themselves,” and writes, “What is needed is to take this intervention, available in affluent nations to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and make it available in the developing world.”