UNICEF representative for Indonesia Angela Kearney said at a workshop on household to hospital continuum care on Thursday that although Indonesia’s infant mortality rate showed a downward trend in the past few years, it is still high, Xinhua reports. “Based on a UNICEF global child mortality report, over the past 10 years infant mortality rate declined significantly to 35 out of every 1,000 births in 2011 from 97 out of every 1,000 births in 1991, she said,” according to the news service.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
“Footage of malnourished North Korean orphans and official warnings over failed harvests have given a rare glimpse at the scale of devastating food shortages in the country following a harsh winter and widespread flooding,” the Guardian reports. “The World Food Programme (WFP) … estimated in March that a quarter of the country’s 24 million inhabitants needed food aid and that a third of children were chronically malnourished” and “has warned it has only 30 percent of the funding it needs for its relief operation, which targets 3.5 million of North Korea’s most vulnerable citizens,” the newspaper writes.
The use of mobile phones for medical purposes, or mHealth, holds “promising implications,” but “there are still some challenges to overcome,” PBS NewsHour reports. Additional research is necessary to determine whether people act on health-related text messages and whether the messages have value for a user, to “questions … around whether applications can be used across all mobile devices, and how to charge cell phones in areas where electricity is spotty or nonexistent,” the news service writes. “Despite all of the challenges, there is progress, especially in the area of collecting health information,” NewsHour notes (Epatko, 10/5).
U.S. Government Pledges Funding For Maternal Mortality Programs In Zambia, GHI Executive Director Says
“The [U.S.] government has said it is hopeful that Zambia will be able to reduce maternal and child mortality, and has pledged to contribute” millions in funding to programs to help further that goal, the Times of Zambia reports. “Speaking during a meeting between U.S. government officials and the media, Global Health Initiative (GHI) Executive Director Lois Quam pledged her government’s commitment to partnering with the Zambian government in order to address major health concerns in the country,” the newspaper adds.
CBS News reports on Afghanistan’s efforts to improve maternal health, writing, “In larger cities, maternity care is improving. But modern health care is a world away for most Afghans. For a pregnant woman, traveling the rough terrain to a clinic is nearly impossible. Only one in four births take place under professional care, so even the smallest medical issue can be fatal.” The news service adds, “One bit of hope: USAID helps sponsor midwife classes to fill the gaping hole in the number of trained medical professionals, a result of the Taliban’s prohibition on educating women. More than 2,500 midwives have graduated, and the infant mortality rate has since declined 22 percent” (Clark, 10/4).
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Rick Scott, mission director of USAID in Timor-Leste, reports on a health-focused field trip to the “sub-village” of Hatugeo in Timor-Lesteâ€™s central highlands where USAID-trained community health workers are working to improve maternal and child health by providing pre- and postnatal care information to expectant and new mothers. Hatugeo is located in the district of Ermera, where the infant mortality rate is 70 deaths per 1,000 live births, only three percent of mothers deliver their babies in a health care facility, and a higher percentage of children show signs of malnourishment and illness than in the rest of the country (10/3).
The Guardian examines a text messaging program in Tanzania initiated by Vodacom Tanzania and local NGO Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) that utilizes Africa’s mobile phone banking system, M-Pesa, to provide women suffering from obstetric fistula, caused by difficult childbirth, with the funds necessary to travel to health facilities for treatment. “CCRBT and Vodacom have now appointed a team of 60 ‘ambassadors’ to travel around the country diagnosing women with the condition. Within an hour of an ambassador finding a patient a date is set for surgery and money for transport is texted to the ambassador, who takes the patient to the bus stop,” according to the Guardian.
Cambodia’s director of dengue control at the Ministry of Health, Ngan Chantha, said on Monday that from January to September of this year, 12,392 cases of dengue fever had been reported and 54 children have died of the disease, Xinhua reports. In all of 2010, 5,497 cases of dengue and 37 child deaths from the disease were recorded, according to the news agency.
Use Of Injectable Hormone Contraceptive May Double Risk Of Contracting, Transmitting HIV, Study Shows
“The most popular contraceptive for women in eastern and southern Africa, a hormone shot given every three months, appears to double the risk the women will become infected with HIV,” according to a study involving 3,800 sero-discordant couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the New York Times reports. The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and published Monday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, also found that when the contraceptive was “used by HIV-positive women, their male partners are twice as likely to become infected than if the women had used no contraception,” the newspaper writes. In addition, the study “found that oral contraceptives appeared to increase risk of HIV infection and transmission, but the number of pill users in the study was too small to be considered statistically significant, the authors said,” according to the New York Times.
“With almost 30,000 cases of measles and eight deaths from the disease recorded in the European Union so far this year, a leading health official is urging doctors to do more to ensure parents have their children vaccinated with” the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, Reuters reports. Marc Sprenger, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), “said MMR vaccine coverage rates across the region are currently around 90 percent, leaving significant groups such as children or young adults unprotected,” and that “it was crucial for pediatricians and family doctors to give balanced, evidence-based information to help parents decide on vaccinations,” Reuters writes.