In a Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin writes, “[I]t warms my heart to see that safe motherhood and women’s reproductive health are finally being recognized as important development issues,” but “millions of women in developing countries still lack even the most basic care during pregnancy,” leading to maternal death and injury and hundreds of millions of women lack access to family planning services, including modern contraceptives. “It is inexcusable that in the 21st century motherhood remains so dangerous for so many. It is not only morally wrong but also hampers economic development and the survival and well-being of families, communities and nations,” he writes.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
“A campaign to introduce new childhood vaccines to Haiti will save tens of thousands of lives over the next decade, [CDC Director] Dr. Thomas Frieden told [NPR’s health blog ‘Shots’] at the end of a two-day tour of the beleaguered country,” the blog reports. “Frieden was part of a delegation to Haiti that included his boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,” according to the blog, which notes, “When the U.S. delegation arrived, a different vaccination campaign had just gotten started — a pilot project to immunize against cholera” (Knox, 4/17). According to another article in “Shots,” “U.S. health officials have been cool to that pilot project behind the scenes,” but Sebelius expressed support for the project.
Large Childhood Immunization Campaign Begins In Haiti, With Support From U.S., Other International Partners
Haiti, the U.S. and other international partners on Monday launched “a nationwide vaccination campaign in the Caribbean country that seeks to curb or prevent infectious diseases, health officials said,” the Associated Press/Fox News reports. The campaign will include immunizations against measles, rubella and polio, as well as the pentavalent vaccine, which is effective against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b, according to the news agency. Immunization rates are low in Haiti, with the WHO reporting slightly more than half of the population immunized for measles and polio, but the current campaign aims to vaccinate 90 percent of Haiti’s youth population, according to Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume, the news agency notes.
Gates Foundation, Brazilian Health Ministry Form Alliance To Expand Grand Challenges In Global Health Initiative
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday announced it has formed an alliance “with the Brazilian Ministry of Health in the latest expansion of the foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative,” the Puget Sound Business Journal reports (Bauman, 4/16). The strategic alliance, which will “explore new ways of tackling challenges associated with vaccines, nutrition, maternal and child health, and infectious disease control,” builds on existing collaborations “to control tuberculosis and dengue fever and improve productivity among small famers,” according to a joint press release from the Gates Foundation and the Brazilian Ministry of Health (4/16).
“In an age of austerity, when everyone is feeling the pinch, some question whether we should continue giving aid to poor countries,” Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children U.K., writes in a Telegraph opinion piece. He says “[t]he resounding answer is yes, according to a new report [.pdf], … which for the first time presents quantifiable evidence of the impact of aid on child survival, health and education” (4/17). The joint report, by the Overseas Development Institute, Save the Children and UNICEF, “analyzes the improvements to children’s lives during the past two decades in five sectors: health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and child protection,” according to the report website (4/17). The report’s “findings are inspiring,” Forsyth writes, noting, “Four million fewer children aged under five died in 2010 than in 1990.”
In this post in the Huffington Post Blog, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), reports on the Nigerian Vaccine Summit, where Nigeria’s leaders will meet this week to discuss children’s health in the country. “With the world’s second largest number of child deaths each year, many of which are due to diseases that could be prevented with vaccines, yet with immunization coverage rates that are lower than many other countries in the region, Nigeria has a major opportunity to save lives by raising immunization coverage and introducing new vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea, the leading killers of children worldwide,” he writes. Levine recounts progress made in recent years to address immunization and child mortality, but notes that “more remains to be done.”
Yaws, a skin and bone disease caused by a treponematoses bacterium that can cause long-term deformities, “has recently been put on WHO’s list of 17 so-called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)” and, along with Guinea worm, is “slated for eradication,” the Lancet reports. A “massive push to free the world from yaws failed in the 1950s and 1960s,” and the WHO in 1995 estimated “there were 2.5 million cases of endemic treponematoses (mostly yaws),” according to the Lancet. A study published in the Lancet in January showed a single dose of the antibiotic azithromycin was effective at curing the disease among children, a finding that “jump-started the NTD community into action,” the article states.
The philanthropic organization Dubai Cares has announced a $1 million donation to partner with The END Fund in the establishment “of a school-based deworming program that will treat children in Angola,” according to the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (NTD) “End the Neglect” blog. “The END Fund’s chairman William Campbell stated that, ‘This pioneering investment in partnership with The END Fund adds further momentum behind our goal of eradicating Africa’s seven most prevalent NTDs by 2020,'” the blog notes (Patel, 4/11).
U.N. Appoints 27 International Leaders To ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ Group To Address Maternal, Child Nutrition
“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday announced the appointment of 27 world leaders to address the issue of maternal and child nutrition in order to secure a future for nations around the world,” Xinhua/Shanghai Daily reports (4/11). UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake chaired the first meeting of the Lead Group for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, which brought together the “leaders of countries, organizations and sectors working to improve nutrition,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The SUN Movement focuses on the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday, when proper nutrition can mean the difference between health and sickness, life and death,” according to the news service. “We must invest now in programs to prevent stunting or risk diminishing the impact of other investments in education, health and child protection,” Lake said, the news service notes (4/10).
This post on RH Reality Check examines a Ugandan court case “alleging that the Ugandan government failed to protect the … constitutional rights to life and health [of several women] by allowing them to die in ill-equipped and poorly managed public hospitals, or failing to provide them with basic maternal care.” According to the post, one in 35 Ugandan women die during pregnancy or childbirth, and “[o]ne of the key complaints in the petition is the government spends just one-quarter on maternal health of what it pledged to spend, per capita.” The post goes on to describe efforts to improve maternal health in Uganda (Mack, 4/10).