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.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
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.
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).
“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.
Time examines the issue of maternal mortality in Afghanistan, where the Health Ministry says “about 18,000 Afghan women die during childbirth every year.” The magazine writes, “According to a recent report by the NGO Save the Children, Afghanistan ranked as the worst place to give birth, followed by Niger and Chad,” Time writes, adding that getting women in rural areas to hospitals, a lack of midwives and a stigma against pregnancy “because it’s a public acknowledgement of sex with their spouses” are all challenges to improving maternal health in Afghanistan. The magazine highlights the HHS-funded Afghan Safe Birth Project, which has “has helped reduce deaths during [caesarean] sections at [Kabul's Rabia Balkhi Hospital] by 80 percent” since 2008, according to Faizullah Kakar, an epidemiologist and special adviser on health to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Time reports. “[I]n April, the U.S. government cut the program’s $5.8 million annual funding, and Kakar says the Afghan government doesn’t have the money to keep it going,” the magazine notes (Kakissis, 10/11).
The African Medical and Research Foundation [AMREF] has selected Esther Madudu, a midwife at the Tiriri health center in northeast Uganda, to lead its global campaign, Stand Up for African Mothers, the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” reports. The goal of the project is to reduce maternal deaths worldwide by 25 percent and train an additional 30,000 midwives, “including 10,000 in Uganda,” according to the blog. Madudu will travel to France this week, “where she will address delegates at the Women’s Forum Global meeting, alongside Uganda’s minister of health, Christine Ondoa,” the blog notes (Ford, 10/12).
CNN/Global Health Frontline News examines how “ready-to-use therapeutic foods” are being used in Haiti to help children with severe malnutrition. U.S. nonprofit organization Meds and Food for Kids makes “Medika Mamba, which means ‘peanut butter medicine’ in Creole. It’s a ready-to-eat paste packed with nutritious ingredients that — over a period of weeks — gives a jolt to the system and puts children back on track,” the news agency writes. The organization partners with local farmers to manufacture the product in Haiti and plans “to produce a new version of its product … which meets the requirements of major agencies such as the World Food Programme and UNICEF” in coming years, according to the news agency (Strieker, 10/11).
Young Women In India 'Fare Much Worse' Than Those In Many Developing Countries, World Bank Report Says
“Young women in India are much better off than their mothers, but they fare much worse than their counterparts in many developing countries when it comes to the physical survival rate of women and participation in labor force, says a report by the World Bank … titled ‘Gender Equality and Development,’” Business Standard reports (10/13). The report “said that while life expectancy had increased in low- and middle-income countries by 20 years since 1960 … almost 4 million women died too early in the developing world compared to rich countries,” with almost one million of these excess deaths occurring in India, according to the Times of India (Dhawan, 10/13).
U.N. Secretary-General Calls For Continued Support Of Women's, Children's Health In Developing Countries
“Developing countries are making efforts to improve the health of women and children but more needs to be done, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said” at an awards ceremony in New York, United Press International reports. “‘As of today, more than 60 countries have committed to step up efforts to improve women and children’s health,’ Ban said,” the news agency writes (10/14).