In a post in the Guardian’s “Sustainable Business” blog, Lisa Herman, managing director of the global health practice area at consulting firm FSG, and Mike Stamp, a senior consultant with FSG, discuss “a new guide for companies on how to participate in global action on women and children’s health” recently launched at the London Family Planning Summit. “The guide, co-authored by social impact consultants FSG and sponsored by the Innovation Working Group in support of the global Every Woman, Every Child effort, sets out concrete opportunities for companies from many different industries to contribute to improving women and children’s health,” they write.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
In this post in the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, guest blogger Oliver Sabot, executive vice president of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, “reflects on the challenge and opportunity of scaling-up access to effective treatment for diarrhea, the second largest cause of child mortality globally.” In the post, Sabot “reflect[s] on a visit to a program to improve the use of zinc and oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea in a rural area of the Indian state of Gujarat run by the nonprofit Family Health International 360” (8/15).
Bloomberg News examines family planning in the Philippines, where “[o]ne in five women of reproductive age … have an unmet family planning need, the U.N. Population Fund says, leading to unintended pregnancies and population growth twice the Asian average.” The article focuses on a reproductive health bill in the country’s congress that would allow for “free or subsidized contraception, especially for the poor.” The bill “has been re-filed and blocked in each three-year congressional term since it was introduced in legislature 14 years ago amid opposition from the Catholic Church,” according to Bloomberg. However, with support from President Benigno Aquino, the bill “may be put to a vote in congress in three months,” the news service notes (Khan/Aquino, 3/27).
“As Southern African policymakers gather in London this month to discuss strategies for reducing new HIV infections in children, [freelance writer] Karen McColl reports on an initiative that uses affected mothers to provide support” in this BMJ feature article. BMJ provides a brief history of how the mothers2mothers (m2m) initiative — established by obstetrician Mitch Besser and colleagues to develop a model of peer education and psychosocial support — developed, writing, “What started as a few mothers providing education and support to their peers has now evolved, 10 years on, into an international program operating on 589 sites in seven countries” and “now employs 1,457 mentor mothers” (3/12).
Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) Communications Officer Kim Lufkin discusses USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s second annual letter in this GHTC “Breakthroughs” blog post, writing, “Shah rightly emphasizes the role of science, technology, and innovation in meeting USAID’s international health goals.” She adds, “It’s exciting to see that Shah continues, time and again, to recognize how science and innovation can overcome some of the world’s long-standing global health problems,” concluding, “It’s heartening to have a leader at USAID who is so committed to the power of research, and who continues to provide such critical leadership” (3/12).
In this Globe and Mail opinion piece, columnist Andre Picard examines the efforts of a new group, the Global Congenital Syphilis Partnership — which includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Save The Children, the CDC, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the WHO — to “make screening for syphilis a routine part of pregnancy care with the goal of eliminating congenital syphilis.” Picard writes, “According to the World Health Organization, some 2.1 million women with syphilis give birth every year,” and notes, “Almost 70 percent of their babies are stillborn, and many of the rest suffer from low birth weight (putting them at great risk for a host of illnesses), hearing loss, vision loss and facial deformities.”
“Measles has killed 126 children in Yemen since mid-2011, a consequence of the breakdown of basic health services during the year-long political crisis,” and “[i]n response … , the Yemeni government has appealed for international assistance and an outbreak-response vaccination campaign will begin in the hardest-hit regions on 10 March,” IRIN reports. Since mid-2011, “3,767 cases of measles have been confirmed, resulting in 126 deaths,” according to the Ministry of Health, whereas “in the three years from the beginning of 2007 until the end of 2009, the ministry reported a total of 211 cases and no deaths due to measles,” the news service notes.
“The World Bank boasts that it has positioned itself as a ‘global leader’ in reproductive health, especially for youth and the poor,” but in 2011, it dedicated “just 0.2 percent of its $43 billion budget” to reproductive health projects, and much of that money was provided as loans, which can “leave poor countries indebted and threaten to divert domestic spending away from vital public health services,” Elizabeth Arend, program coordinator at Gender Action, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” In addition, “[t]here is a striking mismatch between countries’ maternal mortality rates and the bank’s spending on reproductive health,” Arend states, citing the examples of Sierra Leone, where the lifetime average risk of dying from pregnancy or childbirth is one in 35 and the World Bank provides $7.43 per person, versus Niger, Liberia, or Somalia, where women “face an average lifetime one in 17 risk of maternal death, yet these countries receive no reproductive health funding from the bank at all.”
“Opponents of birth control don’t just want to limit access in the U.S., they want to slash U.S. support for international family planning programs. It’s a perennial debate, and it’s about to start all over again,” Chloe Cooney, director of global advocacy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, writes in an RH Reality Check blog post. President Obama’s FY 2013 budget “demonstrates the value the administration places on family planning,” as “funding for international family planning programs is preserved,” she writes, noting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent testimony to Congress about the budget proposal, in which “she consistently reiterated the importance of development as a key pillar of our foreign policy and national security strategy” and “the administration’s focus on women and girls as central to these goals.” Cooney concludes, “The president’s budget protects U.S. investments in family planning programs around the world. Now it’s up to Congress to make sure those funds remain intact” (3/5).
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is warning that more than a million children below the age of five in the Sahel are facing a disaster amid the ongoing food crisis in the drought-prone region of Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports (3/16). “‘More extreme conditions could see this number rise to about 1.5 million and the problem is that funding is not coming in at the rate that we need in order to prepare properly,’ [UNICEF spokesperson Marixie Mercado] said. ‘So far we have received just one-fifth of the $119 million we have asked for in 2012,'” VOA News writes (3/16).