“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.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
“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).
In the first of a series titled “Imagine a world…,” posted on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Paula Franklin, U.K. medical director for Marie Stopes International, writes, “For the most part, only people who really need or want something care much about it being available, and that’s why it can be hard to make people in the developed world tune in to the huge unmet need for contraception globally — 222 million people who want to use contraception can’t get it, at the last count.” She says that the upcoming London Summit on Family Planning is “perhaps the world’s best opportunity to agree together what we’re going to do to rectify the situation,” and she concludes by summarizing some of the upcoming posts in the series by Marie Stopes staff (6/25).
With Lessons Learned From Smallpox Eradication Efforts, Investment In Vaccines, Goal Of Ending Preventable Child Deaths Achievable
In this Baltimore Sun opinion piece, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Myron Levine, the Grollman Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, discuss the successful eradication of smallpox last century and write that “the same can now be done for diarrhea and pneumonia.” They continue, “Eradicating smallpox taught us new ways to gather disease data, empower local leaders, create incentive programs, set up delivery chains and drive innovation,” but “the most important lesson was not to fear big, ambitious global health goals.”
GlobalPost Blog Interviews GAVI Board Chair About Role Of Vaccines In Ending Preventable Child Deaths
At the Child Survival Call to Action summit in Washington, D.C. earlier this month, GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog spoke with Dagfinn Hoybraten — Norway’s former health minister, current vice president of the Norwegian Parliament, and the Board chair of the GAVI Alliance — “about why he believes vaccines are essential to [U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s] goal of ending preventable child deaths.” Hoybraten highlights the vaccines he feels are most important to reaching this goal, discusses GAVI’s goals in the next few years and explains why he believes in GAVI’s work (Judem, 6/25).
“Since Myanmar gained independence from the British in 1948, it has been wracked by armed conflicts and fragile ceasefires with civilians and ethnic rebels,” and “[t]he health of Myanmar’s women has been one of the biggest casualties,” GlobalPost reports. Though recent news coverage has focused on political reform in the nation, “little attention has been paid to a more immediate need: affordable, decent health care,” the news service states. The “military junta that ruled the country for a half century spent very little on health care,” little international aid has come into the country, and “the government restricts where and how aid organizations can operate, blocking the delivery of medical services,” the news service writes, adding, “The result has been a health care system that in conflict areas, does not exist, and in large cities, is too expensive for ordinary people, according to experts inside Myanmar and on the Thai border.”
Vatican Official Calls On International Community To Provide 'Free, Efficient' HIV Treatment In Africa
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state and number two official, “called Friday on the international community to provide ‘free and efficient treatment’ for AIDS in Africa, starting with pregnant women, mothers and their babies,” Agence France-Presse reports (6/22). During a conference sponsored by the Sant’Egidio Community, which operates the DREAM program (Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition) in 10 African countries, “Bertone said the results of DREAM and research by the World Health Organization ‘confirm that universal access to care is achievable, scientifically proven and economically feasible,'” the Catholic News Service writes.
In this post on RH Reality Check, Marianne Mollmann, senior policy adviser with Amnesty International, addresses an upcoming summit in London on family planning funding, which is being co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. Department for International Development and supported by USAID and UNFPA. She says that poverty and “women’s ability to exercise her human rights, including the rights to quality health care, non-discrimination in education and health, and economic empowerment through job creation and protections for equality in the workplace,” are important drivers of maternal health and need to be addressed by governments (6/21).
“The Child Survival Call to Action that took place [recently] in Washington, D.C., was a unique opportunity for 700 stakeholders working in the government, the private sector, faith-based organizations, and civil society to come together to kick off a long-term, focused effort to save children’s lives,” Rachel Wilson, the senior director of policy and advocacy at PATH, writes in this post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog. “While the goal of the Call to Action — to decrease annual preventable childhood deaths to two million by 2035 — may seem daunting, we ought to remind ourselves that we already have many of the tools at our disposal to achieve success,” she says (6/22).
“Any new president has a vast array of items on his or her agenda, but newly inaugurated Malawian President Joyce Hilda Banda has elevated a praise-worthy agenda for maternal health at the very outset of her time in office,” Alisha Kramer, a research assistant at the Center For Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) Global Health Policy Center, writes in this post in the center’s “Smart Global Health” blog. “After former President Bingu wa Mutharika died unexpectedly from a heart attack, President Banda took office on April 7th, 2012 after a brief succession struggle,” Kramer notes, adding, “Domestic and international observers of Banda are optimistic that Banda’s vision for improved governance can reverse the downward course of her predecessor” (6/22).