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Healthy Timing, Spacing Of Pregnancy Essential In Family Planning

“USAID promotes Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy as a vital family planning intervention that helps ensure that pregnancies occur at the healthiest times in a woman’s life,” Maureen Norton, healthy timing and spacing technical adviser for USAID, writes in USAID’s IMPACTblog. “A USAID analysis found that, by preventing closely spaced births, family planning could save the lives of more than 1.6 million children under five annually,” she notes. Norton outlines “three key programmatic actions to strengthen family planning as an essential intervention for child survival,” including educating families on pregnancy timing, expanding the type of available contraceptives, and enacting “policies to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend.” She concludes, “Increasing access to family planning is essential to help women … and their children survive and stay healthy” (6/19).

Renewed Commitment To Agenda For Child Survival Needed

“Last week in Washington, D.C., a coalition of global leaders and international organizations launched the Child Survival Call to Action in an effort to drive down the risk of preventable child deaths to roughly equivalent levels in all countries by 2035,” Victoria Fan, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), writes in this post in the center’s “Global Health Policy” blog. “[I]t’s a (relatively) old agenda in global health, arguably dating back to the time of UNICEF’s third Executive Director James Grant (1980-1995) who pushed to recognize the ‘global silent emergency’ and to reduce preventable child deaths,” she writes, concluding, “For this agenda to survive, the world will need not only renewed commitment on old things (to save new people, no less!), [but] we’ll need unified strategies buttressed by new financial resources, not unlike on the response previously driven in fighting AIDS” (6/19).

Al Jazeera Examines Cuba's National Health Care System; IPS Looks At HIV/AIDS In The Country

In a feature story, Al Jazeera examines Cuba’s national health care system, which “works — or is supposed to work — by emphasizing primary and preventative health care.” However, after subsidies from the former Soviet Union “ended and Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin, nothing was the same again,” according to the news agency, which notes the system experiences drug shortages, patients have long wait times, and some hospitals are dirty or malfunctioning. “In all fairness, in the past five years, the government has made great efforts to improve hospitals and health centers, but again, lack of resources is making the process painfully slow,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “The system is free, but it is neither fast nor efficient for two important reasons. One is obviously the lack of financial resources, and the other — which is related to the first — is the ‘export’ of doctors, nurses and dentists in exchange for hard currency.” The feature concludes, “But for all its shortcomings, Cubans do have better access to health care than the majority of those living in many ‘developing nations,’ where public health is shockingly inadequate” (Newman, 6/18).

Affordability Of Diarrhea Treatment Offers Hope For Improving Child Survival

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.

Yemen Facing Extremely High Levels Of Malnutrition, UNICEF Official Says

With “the highest level of chronic malnutrition after Afghanistan, affecting 60 percent of under fives,” Yemen is facing levels of acute malnutrition that are equal to or worse than those in Africa’s Horn or Sahel, UNICEF’s Yemen representative Geert Cappelaere said on Friday in London, AlertNet reports. “If you don’t do anything about these incredible high levels of malnutrition, in the short term you may have more and more children dying. In the long term, the cost of inaction for a country like Yemen may be up to $1.5 billion a year,” he said. According to AlertNet, “The figure comes from a World Bank estimate that the cost of failing to address malnutrition could be 2-3 percent of a country’s GDP.” Cappelaere “said that in some areas it had almost nothing to do with access to food, but rather to lack of access to drinking water or sanitation. He said bringing down malnutrition levels would require integrated investment in water, sanitation, nutrition, education, and health,” the news service writes (Batha, 6/15).

Opinion Pieces Address Child Survival Call to Action

The governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, in collaboration with UNICEF, on Thursday launched the Child Survival Call to Action in Washington, D.C., during a two-day event that brings together world leaders, public health experts, child health advocates and others in an effort to reduce child mortality to 20 per 1,000 by 2035 worldwide, with the ultimate goal of ending preventable child deaths. The following summarizes several opinion pieces addressing the effort.

Hillary Clinton Announces New Initiatives At Child Survival Call To Action

Speaking at the Child Survival Call to Action on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “announced the establishment of a unique and historic global development alliance (GDA) — Survive and Thrive: Professional Associations, Private Sector and Global Health Scholars Saving Mothers, Newborns and Children — to improve survival rates for…

Preventable Childhood Deaths Can Be Nearly Eliminated In 10 Years, Researchers Write

“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).

Interventions Aimed At Preventing, Treating Pneumonia In Children Need To Be Expanded In Developing World

“This month, USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) joins countries around the world in celebrating International Children’s Day,” Dyness Kasungami, a child health team leader for MCHIP, writes in the Huffington Post Blog, adding, “While great strides in child survival have been made in the past years, we also remember those children who do not live to see their fifth birthday — the 7.6 million children who die of preventable causes each year.” She notes, “Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children under five, killing 1.4 million children each year, more than tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria combined,” and continues, “Children can be protected from pneumonia through behavioral interventions such as adequate nutrition during childhood, hand washing, and reducing indoor air pollution by using improved, well-ventilated stoves.”

The Guardian Examines Results Of Countdown To 2015 Report, Provides Interactive Map

“More than 50 countries look set to miss both Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for cutting mortality rates for young children and mothers by the 2015 deadline, according to” the Countdown to 2015 report, “Building a Future for Women and Children,” released by the WHO on Wednesday, the Guardian reports. “The Countdown report echoes many findings of the WHO’s World Health Statistics 2012 survey, published last month, which found that although improvements in the poorest areas have accelerated, ‘large variations in health … persist both between and within countries,'” the newspaper notes. The Guardian goes on to detail the key findings of the report and provides a link to an interactive map of key indicators for progress on health-related MDGs (6/14).