In a post in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, Scott Radloff, director of the Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID, examines how, for the past year, the Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal, and Newborn Health, a partnership between USAID, the U.K. Department for International Development, the Australian Agency for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched at last year’s U.N. General Assembly Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, has “accelerate[d] progress in improving maternal and child health” worldwide. Radloff highlights successes in Ethiopia and Pakistan and writes that by 2015, the Alliance aims to contribute to increases in the use of modern contraceptives, the number of women giving birth in the presence of a skilled birth attendant and the number of infants exclusively breastfed through the first six months of life (9/21).
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
PepsiCo, WFP, USAID Announce Partnership To Increase Chickpea Production, Address Hunger In Ethiopia
PepsiCo on Wednesday announced a public-private partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and USAID to increase chickpea production in Ethiopia in order to secure access to the legume, which “play[s] an increasing role in its food products,” the New York Times reports. If the project is successful in working with small farmers to increase chickpea production, the “increased yield would exceed PepsiCo’s needs,” therefore “some of the additional crops will be used to make a new, ready-to-eat food product that the World Food Programme has used to address famine in Pakistan,” according to the newspaper (Strom, 9/20).
Encouraged by early results of a study of an experimental malaria vaccine involving 45 children in Burkina Faso, researchers led by Pierre Druilhe at the Pasteur Institute in Paris are set to expand the clinical trial, resulting in a larger study involving 800 children in Mali, BBC News reports. The initial trial aimed “to test the safety of the vaccine but this follow up study found that children who received it had an incidence of the disease three to four times lower than children who did not,” BBC writes.
The health care system in the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, which were established “long ago,” are “currently challenged and stretched by the recent influx of refugees,” UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimihen writes in this BMJ Group Blogs entry, noting that efforts are underway “to strengthen the existing system with supplies [and] human resources at clinic and outreach levels” to increase access. UNFPA is working “to improve reproductive health care in Dadaab and in accessible parts of Somalia through the provision of related life-saving medical supplies and equipment, which will lead to a reduction in adult and child morbidity and death,” he writes.
On the sidelines of the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on Tuesday, “[r]epresentatives of governments, civil society and the private sector joined United Nations agencies … to emphasize the importance of good nutrition, which is vital not only for human health but also for national economic and social development,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The event “took place one year after the launch of the Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, a global initiative that aims to improve maternal and child nutrition,” the news service reports (9/20).
The PBS NewsHour blog “The Rundown” features an interview with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, in which he discusses a new website initiative called “FWD,” “aimed at giving viewers a better sense of the scope of the famine in the Horn of Africa — its worst in more than 60 years.” The site includes infographics and data maps “intended to contextualize the problem by showing the recent increase in food prices, where internally displaced peoples camps are located, and where various aid groups are operating,” according to the blog (Epatko, 9/20).
U.N. Calls For Advancement On Goal To Save Women And Children; Poorest Countries, Drug Company Contribute To Fight
Speaking at a high-level meeting at U.N. headquarters on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while lauding the progress made under the Every Woman Every Child initiative since its launch one year ago, noted that millions of women and children “are still dying needless deaths and called for advancing the goal of saving 16 million lives by 2015,” the U.N. News Centre reports. A one-year progress update launched at the meeting, Saving the Lives of 16 Million, “shows that in the first year of the effort, commitments have been implemented and enhanced, new partners have come on board, funding has been increased, policies improved and services strengthened on the ground,” according to the news service (9/20).
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday is expected “to announce a significant expansion of the organization’s ambitious global program to tackle infant and maternal mortality and boost access to reproductive health over coming years,” the Financial Times reports. The announcement “will highlight the doubling of commitments from governments, the private sector and non-profit organizations on funding and policy initiatives for the ‘Every Woman Every Child’ program,” the newspaper writes (Raval et al., 9/19). The announcement comes “[a]s the U.N. General Assembly opens a new session” and is “being called on [by the international community] to provide more family planning services to hundreds of millions of women,” according to VOA News (DeCapua, 9/19).
Recent U.N. statistics showing a drop in child mortality are both good and bad, because the number of child deaths continues to drop, but “progress isn’t reaching all families around the world, and it isn’t reaching newborn babies as often as older children,” Joy Lawn, director of Global Evidence and Policy for Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program, writes in a GlobalPost opinion piece. While the knowledge and technology exist to save lives, “too often, there is simply no one equipped to deliver basic lifesaving care to families who need it most. More than anything else, babies and children die for lack of frontline health workers,” she writes.
“[F]ar too many children in Kenya and other African countries continue to suffer unnecessarily each year due to the misdiagnosis of fever, which contributes to the deaths of nearly three million children of less than five years of age from malaria and pneumonia,” Willis Akhwale, head of Kenya’s Department of Disease Prevention and Control in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, writes in a Daily Nation opinion piece, saying that health care workers “desperately need a test that can quickly and accurately identify and distinguish between fever-causing diseases.”