“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.”
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Newborn Babies Account For 40% Of Preventable Child Deaths, See Little Global Health Funding, Report Says
“Newborns now account for 40 percent of preventable child deaths worldwide, but only a tiny fraction of international aid targets newborns, according to” Save the Children’s new report on newborn survival, to be published in the medical journal Health Policy and Planning Tuesday, USA Today reports (Madhani, 6/11). “The world has achieved remarkable progress on reducing child deaths — from 12.4 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010 — but that progress isn’t reaching newborn babies at the same pace, the report shows,” a Save the Children press release states (6/12).
“Women in Afghanistan are 70 times more likely to die in childbirth than from a bullet or a bomb, according to Save the Children,” CNN reports, adding that is “a grim statistic the women here are trying to change.” In the article and an accompanying video, the news service describes a midwife-training program at the Ghazanfar Institute of Health Sciences in Kabul and “a pilot program in Guldara District [that] teaches volunteers how to become community health workers.” However, “sustaining and spreading initiatives such as this one will take even more investment from the international community,” CNN writes (Jamjoom, 6/27).
The New York Times Magazine profiles U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her tenure at the State Department. The article begins by describing a partnership she announced in September 2010 with the U.N. Foundation “to provide 100 million cleaner and more efficient stoves around the world by 2020,” and writes that “she has since used every opportunity to implore world leaders to adopt policies to encourage their use.” The article continues, “After three and a half years in office, though, her greatest legacy has been the remaking of American diplomacy in her own fashion, shaped as much by her own personality and fame as by a guiding philosophy.” When asked what she plans to do in retirement, she said “[s]he intends to write another book and to pursue philanthropy, championing women and girls, as ever,” the article states (Myers, 6/27).
“The Child Survival Call to Action shows the U.S. government navigating a new approach to global health and development,” Nellie Bristol, global health research fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), and Janet Fleischman, senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, write in a post on the center’s “Smart Global Health” blog. The summit and its Global Roadmap (.pdf) “illustrate the new approach to foreign aid: collaboration and partnerships, country leadership instead of donor dictates and integration of services instead of a disease specific focus,” the authors write, adding, “They also highlight other new realities in the development arena in that they promise little additional funding and put the onus on the countries themselves to ensure progress.” They conclude, “How momentum from the Call to Action will lead to changes to U.S. global health efforts remains to be seen” (6/26).
Pregnancy Complications Are Leading Killer Of Teenage Girls Worldwide, Save The Children Report Says
Pregnancy is the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide, with one million girls annually dying, being injured, or contracting a disease because of pregnancy or childbirth, according to a report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children, the Daily Mail reports (6/26). “Save the Children also cited official data which revealed that nearly one million babies born to teenage mothers die each year before their first birthday,” Agence France-Presse writes. “Worldwide, one in five girls give birth before they turn 18, according to the report,” which also said that the risk of a 15-year-old dying in pregnancy or childbirth is five times higher than for a woman in her twenties, the news service notes.
“I find [a new report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children] particularly interesting because it broadens the debate” over family planning by discussing not only the logistics of providing modern contraceptives to women in need, but “the young women, sometimes no more than children themselves, who risk their lives and those of their babies if they become pregnant inside or outside of marriage,” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog.” She notes that the report says complications from pregnancy are the leading killer of women ages 15 to 19 and infants born to women under 20 are at a much greater risk of dying before their first birthday than those born to older women. Boseley writes, “The low status of girls and their power to make decisions over their own bodies is fundamental,” and family planning and education can help empower women.
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Megan Averill and Tricia Petruney, senior technical officers with FHI 360’s Global Health, Population and Nutrition Group, and Ward Cates, president emeritus at FHI 360, discuss the “domino effect” of family planning. “We’ll begin with a simple and intuitive causal relationship: voluntary use of contraception prevents unintended pregnancies,” they write, and highlight a number of benefits they say stem from this relationship. They conclude, “Until now, too few people have been aware and too few leaders willing to acknowledge the essential role that family planning plays in achieving sustainable development. Rio+20 is our chance to tip this pivotal domino piece forward, and witness the measurable cascade of progress it evokes” (6/18).
In the third of a series of entries in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, titled “A Daughter’s Journey,” Tracy Jarrett, a GlobalPost/Kaiser Family Foundation global health reporting fellow, visits a USAID-funded HIV clinic at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. The clinic’s Perinatal HIV/AIDS Research Unit (PHRU) focuses on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) with funding from USAID and PEPFAR, she states, noting that the “clinic has been a game changer for mothers in Soweto [township] and an example for other PMTCT clinics throughout South Africa” (6/21). Jarrett, whose mother died of AIDS-related complications, is traveling “from Chicago to New York to South Africa to report on what is being done to keep babies and their mothers alive, to fight against stigma and to help those infected while reporting on what is still left to do to achieve an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” according to the first post in her series (6/15). The second post also is available online (6/19).
In a video message addressing the Rio+20 summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “announced a ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ to rid the world of malnutrition,” Bloomberg News reports. “‘In a world of plenty, no one, not a single person, should go hungry,’ Ban said. ‘I invite you all to join me in working for a future without hunger,'” the news agency notes. “Ending hunger would boost economic growth, reduce poverty and help protect the environment, as well as foster peace and stability, Ban said,” Bloomberg writes, adding that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 13 percent of the world’s population, or 900 million people, suffer from hunger. Barbara Stocking, CEO of Oxfam, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg, “This is the first big idea on food to come out of the Rio+20 debacle. … But it is in total contrast to the lack of any action in the summit conclusions” (Ruitenburg, 6/22).