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Improving Rural Health Care Systems Would Help Progress In Child Survival

In a post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Jonathan Quick, president and CEO of Management Sciences for Health (MSH), discusses USAID’s “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” campaign and several MSH programs working to improve child survival. He writes, “Expanding access to quality health care closer to the home will improve child survival in low-income countries. Training and certifying rural medicine dispensers at a national scale, and providing community-based care by community health workers, will help empower rural communities and improve the health of children in these resource-poor areas. Through these cost-effective, high-impact interventions closer to the home, we can accelerate the reduction in child mortality and save millions of lives” (5/10).

Most Deaths In Children Under 5 From Preventable Infectious Causes, Study Suggests

“Most deaths of young children around the world are from mainly preventable infectious causes,” according to a study published in the Lancet on Friday, BBC News reports. A team led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health looked at mortality figures from 2010 and “found two-thirds of the 7.6 million children who died before their fifth birthday did so due to infectious causes — and pneumonia was found to be the leading cause of death,” the news service writes. “They found child deaths had fallen by two million (26 percent) since 2000, and there have been significant reductions in leading causes of death including diarrhea and measles — as well as pneumonia,” BBC notes (5/11). However, the authors “caution the decline is not sufficient enough” to achieve the fourth Millennium Development Goal, “which seeks to reduce child mortality by two-thirds in 2015,” a Johns Hopkins press release writes (5/10).

Female Presidents Of Liberia, Malawi Pledge To Address Gender Equality, Improve Women’s Health

“The only two female heads of state in Africa, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Malawian President Joyce Banda, have just committed to using their positions to improve the lives of women across the continent,” Inter Press Service reports. The article describes the presidents’ comments at a recent women’s right event in Monrovia, Liberia, and says, “[T]he challenges before them are great. Using the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a barometer, Liberia and Malawi generally score low in the areas of gender equality and women’s empowerment, education for girls, and maternal health.”

Efforts To Stem Childhood Mortality In Ghana Will Not Be Enough To Reach MDG, UNICEF Official Says

Anirban Chatterjee, chief of health and nutrition for UNICEF in Ghana, said the country “is doing a lot” to fight child mortality — referring to a recently launched vaccination campaign and an initiative to educate mothers about nutrition — but “I don’t think it’s enough” to reach the fourth U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two thirds by 2015, Inter Press Service reports. “I think there is definitely scope and need for more improvement,” he added, according to the news service. A GAVI Alliance-supported campaign to provide vaccines against rotavirus and pneumococcal disease is underway, but Chatterjee added that efforts to improve nutrition need to be provided simultaneously because he “said malnourishment can sometimes double or triple the chances of dying from a condition like diarrhea or pneumonia,” IPS writes.

Government, Development Sector Leaders Should Turn To Bangladesh Program For Solutions To Avoidable Childhood Death

For solutions to help end avoidable child deaths, “government and development sector leaders should heed the lessons of a massive-yet-innovative program” in Bangladesh, called SHOUHARDO, a Bangla word for “friendship,” “that is not only helping children … reach their fifth birthdays but also ensuring they grow healthier, and in many cases, taller,” Faheem Khan of CARE Bangladesh, who heads the SHOUHARDO program, writes in this Christian Science Monitor opinion piece. The first phase of the program, which is run by CARE, USAID, and the government of Bangladesh, was implemented from 2004 to 2010 and “represented the largest non-emergency USAID food security program in the world,” Khan writes.

This Mother’s Day, Ensure Babies Everywhere Are Born Free Of HIV

Ahead of Mother’s Day on May 13, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, “Together we can go from 390,000 children becoming infected with HIV each year to zero,” and he highlights “three simple things we can all do to ensure babies everywhere can be born free from HIV.”

Globe And Mail Examines Sustainability Of Sierra Leone’s Free Health Care System

The Globe and Mail examines the sustainability of Sierra Leone’s free health care system, writing, “The reform has been hugely successful and the death rate has dropped sharply. … [But t]he country’s hospitals are overwhelmed with new patients, the drug supply can’t keep up, the medical staff are overloaded, and it’s unclear if the $36-million program would survive without foreign donations.” According to the newspaper, “The principle of free health care is a sharp break from earlier ideology” that supported “‘cost recovery’ — a system of user fees in hospitals” — which leaders thought “would generate money to fix their badly underfunded health systems.” However, the user fees “were widely criticized, they failed to solve the funding problems, and they created a new barrier to health care” for many without the means to pay, the Globe and Mail writes.