In this post in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, Cecilia Attias, former first lady of France and president and founder of the Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women, responds to a recent paper, published by the World Bank, which discusses significant declines in infant and under-five mortality in Kenya and across sub-Saharan Africa. She writes, “Africa’s swift economic growth has become a familiar story; but the fact that fewer children are dying than before — that people’s lives are getting better on the ground — is arguably more heartening than accounts of improvements in African industry or infrastructure or business (though the trends are probably connected).”
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
The Nairobi-based African Institute for Development Policy on Tuesday presented a report called “Africa on the Move!” at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, VOA News reports, noting the report “says that in some African countries, political will, maternal and child health concerns as well as more and more funding are helping to develop effective family planning.” According to VOA, “Steve McDonald, the host of the event and Africa director at the Wilson Center, said partnerships between governments and religious organizations, which sometimes provide the bulk of health services in remote areas, are also crucial.”
“Tens of thousands of people uprooted or trapped by conflict in northern Mali are going without enough food, leading to a spike in cases of children suffering from malnutrition, medical aid groups say,” AlertNet reports. “The situation in northern Mali is also being compounded by a wider food and nutrition crisis across the Sahel region of West Africa, where the United Nations estimates that 18 million people are facing hunger due to a combination of drought, failed crops, insect swarms, and high food prices,” the news service writes. “Aid workers warn that living conditions in Mali’s troubled north will worsen unless security improves, enabling better access for humanitarian groups, and donors provide more funding for relief operations,” AlertNet notes, adding that charity groups working in the region say mothers and children are being affected most by malnutrition (Fominyen, 6/28).
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.
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).
“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).
“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).
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah on Wednesday spoke with GlobalPost’s John Donnelly about the Child Survival Call to Action, a two-day high-level meeting convened by the governments of Ethiopia, India, and the U.S., in collaboration with UNICEF, according to a post in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog (Donnelly, 6/13). “The Call to Action challenges the world to reduce child mortality to 20 or fewer child deaths per 1,000 live births in every country by 2035,” a UNICEF press release notes, adding, “Reaching this historic target will save an additional 45 million children’s lives by 2035, bringing the world closer to the ultimate goal of ending preventable child deaths” (6/14).
Ugandan Civil Organizations Ask Supreme Court To Declare Death During Childbirth Violates Women's Rights
In an effort to lower the maternal mortality rate in Uganda, activists from more than 50 civil service organizations on Tuesday asked the country’s Supreme Court “to declare that women’s rights are violated when they die in childbirth,” which could help make the government put more resources toward maternal health care and lower the rate of maternal deaths, currently about 100 per week, the Associated Press/Fox News reports. “All we want is a declaration that when women die during childbirth it is a violation of their rights,” Noor Musisi of the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development in Kampala said, according to the news agency.
In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog, Deputy Editor Tom Murphy discusses the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative, which “support[s] the aggressive reduction of maternal mortality in countries with the highest mortality rates.” He notes that the “founding partners include the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI), Merck for Mothers, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), Every Mother Counts (EMC), and the Government of Norway,” and that they have pledged $200 million over five years. Murphy outlines the objectives of the initiative and highlights some of the comments made at its launch last week during the Child Survival Call to Action summit (6/19).