UNICEF on Friday “appealed … for $1.28 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to children in over 25 countries this year, with nearly one-third of the total amount earmarked for the crisis in the Horn of Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports (1/27). The agency also released its annual “Humanitarian Action for Children 2012” report, which “decried the rising levels of starvation and malnutrition among children under the age of five in many of the world’s troubled regions,” GlobalPost writes (1/27). UNICEF “said it was seeking nine percent less than in 2011, linked to lower needs in Pakistan and Haiti, but that its needs for fighting hunger had jumped by nearly 50 percent,” according to Agence France-Presse (1/28). The agency said more than one million children in Africa’s Sahel region are at risk of severe malnutrition, Reuters reports (1/27).
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
IRIN reports that Cote d’Ivoire is abandoning its free health care for all scheme after a period of nine months, noting, “Theft, poor management and rising costs have made the service — introduced by President Alassane Ouattara’s government at the end of civil conflict to ease a dire public health situation — unaffordable.” According to the news service, “As of February, the free service will only be available to mothers and their children,” meaning “free care for deliveries and free treatment for diseases affecting children under six years old.”
“Two groundbreaking initiatives, aimed at realistically achieving the once-unthinkable goal of ending new HIV infections among children by the end of 2015, were launched simultaneously at the World Economic Forum’s [WEF] Annual Conference in Davos” on Friday, according to a Business Leadership Council press release. “The Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free was launched together with a Social Media Syndicate that is designed to reach billions of people around the world … The Syndicate will evolve to focus on other U.N. Health Millennium Development Goals over the coming months,” the press release states (1/27). “The Social Media Syndicate will coordinate the most influential, individual publishers on the Social Web to share messages and actions needed to welcome a ‘Generation Born HIV Free’ and to achieve all the health-related Millennium Development Goals,” according to a press statement from UNAIDS and PEPFAR (1/27).
This post in the Malaria Free Future blog reports on a study underway in Rwanda that aims to measure the prevalence of malaria in pregnancy (MIP). The research is supported by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and is being carried out through its Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) “so that the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) can have data to design appropriate MIP interventions as the country moves towards malaria elimination,” the blog notes. According to the blog, the study of more than 4,000 women “focuses on pregnant women during their first visit to focused antenatal care (FANC) for their current pregnancy” and is currently at the half way mark (Brieger, 1/25).
“A year of Yemen’s turmoil has exacerbated the number of malnourished children under the age of five to around 750,000, UNICEF said Tuesday, appealing to the government and the international community to help develop the country’s infrastructure to tackle the problem,” the Associated Press reports (Al-Haj/Batrawy, 1/24). “Conflict, poverty and drought, compounded by the unrest of the previous year, the high food and fuel prices, and the breakdown of social services, are putting children’s health at great risks and threatening their very survival,” UNICEF Regional Director Maria Calivis said today, concluding “a two-day visit to Yemen where she saw first-hand the impact of malnutrition on children’s health,” a UNICEF news note states (1/24).
PBS NewsHour on Monday aired the second installment in its “Food for 9 Billion” series, in which “Sam Eaton of Homelands Productions goes to the fishing village of Humay-Humay” in the Philippines and “speaks with families about their concerns that future generations won’t enjoy the same access to fish as a food staple and way of life,” the PBS NewsHour blog “The Rundown” reports. The video report looks at how “one organization is making birth control more readily accessible to those wishing to keep their families small,” according to the blog.
The U.S. Army news service reports on a five-day Medical Civil Action Program, or MEDCAP, in Tanzania, during which “Tanzanian medical providers working in partnership with U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa provided medical care to more than 2,100 Tanzanian women and children.” According to the news service, “The program supported the Tanzanian Health Initiative, a program that seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to health for the Tanzanian people and parallels the U.S. government’s Global Health Initiative.”
IRIN examines several factors that could be contributing to an increase in polio cases in Pakistan, “despite the launch of a National Emergency Action Plan for Polio Eradication” at the beginning of 2011. In 2010, Pakistan recorded 144 cases of polio and 192 cases in 2011, the news service reports. According to IRIN, refusals by some households to vaccinate children; “administrative laxity” and “poorly run campaigns”; and malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and diarrhea among children could be contributing to the campaign’s lack of success (1/23).
“For the third time in the past decade, drought has returned to the arid, western shoulder of Africa, bringing hunger to millions,” and “[a]id agencies are warning that if action is not taken now, the region known as the Sahel could slip into crisis,” the Associated Press reports. “Aid workers also worry that donors are suffering from ‘famine fatigue,’ as the looming West African crisis comes just six months after Somalia’s capital was declared a famine zone,” the news agency writes.
“Following separate investigations into the misuse of GAVI funding in Cameroon and Niger, both Ministries of Health have cooperated fully and confirmed their commitment to take all necessary measures, including the reimbursement of misused funds,” the GAVI Alliance said in a statement released on Thursday. According to the statement, “The findings suggest that up to US$4.2 million allocated for health systems strengthening (HSS) has been misused in Cameroon and up to US$2.5 million allocated for immunization services support (ISS) has been misused in Niger,” with approximately $1.8 million and $1.5 million of those funds under investigation for theft in the respective countries.