“[M]alnutrition, one of the leading killers of children under five in the Central American nation [of Guatemala], is receiving scant attention on the campaign trail” ahead of the country’s presidential elections scheduled for September, AlertNet reports. “Organized crime and rising drug-fuelled violence” are overshadowing many issues, according to the news service.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
South African Health Minister Promotes Exclusive Breastfeeding To Fight Rising Infant Mortality Rate
Speaking at a breastfeeding conference on Tuesday in Johannesburg, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that “reducing child mortality is one of the most important priorities in our country and central to this is breastfeeding as a child survival strategy,” Agence France-Presse reports.
Describing a maternal health program that promotes family planning in the rural village of Bweremana in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Michael Gerson writes in his Washington Post column that “[t]he very words ‘family planning’ light up the limbic centers of American politics.” But “in places such as Bweremana, family planning is undeniably pro-life,” Gerson says, noting that “[w]hen contraceptive prevalence is low, about 70 percent of all births involve serious risk. When prevalence is high, the figure is 35 percent.”
Inter Press Service profiles a program launched by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) to develop antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) specifically designed for children living with HIV/AIDS. “The program will focus exclusively on developing child-adapted formulations for children under three, the most neglected segment in terms of availability of ARVs. The DNDi hopes to have new pediatric-specific medicines available between 2014 and 2016,” IPS writes. The article examines pediatric HIV treatment issues in India, Kenya and Brazil (Frayssinet et al., 8/29).
Russia “is in a demographic crisis, shedding 2.2 million people (or 1.6 percent of the population) since 2002, and the government is trying to encourage more women to bring Russian citizens into the world,” journalist Natalia Antonova writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, in which she describes her experience with the Russian medical system after “unexpectedly” becoming pregnant shortly after receiving her visa to work in Moscow.
Integrating Rapid Syphilis And HIV Testing For Pregnant Women Could Reduce Maternal, Child Morbidity And Mortality
“A study conducted in Uganda and Zambia by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) found high rates of syphilis and HIV co-infection among pregnant women in both countries,” but showed that “integrating rapid syphilis screening and HIV testing for pregnant women was feasible, cost-effective, and helped to prevent transmission of syphilis and HIV from mother-to-child,” PlusNews reports.
In the refugee camps in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince nearly two years after a devastating earthquake, “health and human rights officials warn of another crisis: an explosion of tent babies,” the Miami Herald reports. “Haiti’s tent baby phenomenon comes as the country continues to struggle to rebuild, and as the nearly 600,000 Haitians still living in hundreds of squalid camps in quake-ravaged communities see the avalanche of medical assistance from foreign doctors and nongovernmental organizations disappear,” primarily because of a lack of funding, the newspaper writes.
UNICEF and non-governmental organizations “operating in West Africa say the main barrier to more pit latrines in rural areas is not poverty or lack of resources, but a lack of understanding about costs and benefits,” IRIN reports. “Plan International, WaterAid and UNICEF programs all encourage communities to recognize the need for better sanitation, and to build latrines themselves,” the news service writes, adding, “Building and using latrines is one of the most effective ways to combat diarrhea, which kills 1.5 million under-five children globally each year.”
Progress In Reducing Child Mortality Rates At Somalia, Ethiopia Border Refugee Camps Is Slow, U.S. Official Says
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Reuben Brigety, “[t]he top U.S. official for refugee issues, … says that despite intensive efforts, relief agencies have made little progress in reducing child mortality rates at refugee camps along Somalia’s border with Ethiopia,” VOA News reports. Brigety, “comment[ing] as he returned from Dollo Ado, a sprawling camp complex in Ethiopia that houses 120,000 refugees from famine-stricken southern Somalia … tells VOA that humanitarian agencies have made impressive progress in establishing health facilities and registering the backlog of refugees arriving daily from Somaliaâ€™s famine zone. But he said children are still dying at an alarming rate of malnutrition and other complications, such as measles,” the news agency writes.
In this post on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, the second in a multi-week series, Joy Lawn, director of Evidence and Policy for the Saving Newborn Lives program of Save the Children, and Kate Kerber, the Africa regional specialist with Saving Newborn Lives at Save the…