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
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog summarizes a recent forum on reproductive health issues during which panel members of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health of Aspen Global Health and Development discussed how “reproductive health was intimately connected to the world’s population boom, climate change, water and sanitation crises, economic downturns, educational rates, and development overall.” The article continues, “And yet, reproductive health and family planning is generally not a focus on the world stage. In fact, the topic is often avoided.”
PRI’s “The World” recently spoke with Matt Ellingson, director of Program Development at Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization, who was part of a mission to North Korea this month during which five U.S.-based, non-governmental organizations were allowed to send observers to the country to monitor delivery of aid to areas affected by severe floods this past summer. The group “came away concerned about widespread malnutrition and starvation in North Korea” and “is now calling for an urgent humanitarian intervention,” “The World” reports. The radio show provides audio of the interview and a link to a “factfile” on the North Korea food crisis published in The Telegraph earlier this month (9/23).
The Geneva-based GAVI Alliance, a fund backed by governments, the World Bank, the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday that it will purchase more than $1 billion in vaccines against rotavirus, pneumococcal and other diseases through deals made with GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. to immunize children in 37 of the poorest nations, Bloomberg reports. “Wealthy nations donated $4.3 billion to purchase the vaccines as part of a plan to immunize 250 million children by 2015,” the news service notes (Bennett, 9/27).
“More than a dozen kindergartens in Vietnam have closed to deal with an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease that has killed 111 children and sickened more than 57,000 this year, an official and the government said,” according to the Associated Press/Washington Post. The southern province of Hau Giang, which reported 70 percent of the recorded 57,055 cases and 90 percent of the 111 deaths in the country, “has had 361 cases since June, and some 50 children are hospitalized,” the AP reports. “The Health Ministry says more than 2,000 new cases of hand, foot and mouth disease are being reported each week. In a typical year, the virus infects up to 15,000 children in Vietnam and kills 20 to 30 of them,” the news agency writes (9/26).
In this entry in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Kolleen Bouchane, director of ACTION, an international partnership of advocates working to mobilize resources to treat and prevent the spread of tuberculosis (TB), examines the need for improved TB vaccines and diagnostics in order to curb the spread of multidrug-resistant TB, especially among children, and highlights ACTION’s new report (.pdf), “Children and Tuberculosis: Exposing a Hidden Epidemic,” which she says “exposes the link between TB and orphaned and vulnerable children, malnourished children or children living with HIV.”
Gordon Alexander, director of the office of research at UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre, writes in this post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” that a series published in Friday’s Lancet on early child development (ECD) shows “that the payoff from concerted, integrated action around ECD would be enormous.” Additional focus on and investment in ECD, particularly in the areas of nutrition, maternal and family health, and poverty alleviation, would help children reach their full potential in adulthood, which means “investing in ECD now will quite literally yield billions of dollars in later years,” he says.
NPR’s Tell Me More on Friday interviewed Sierra Leone First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma about her work aimed at improving maternal health in her country. Koroma was in New York attending the African First Ladies Fellowship Program “that brings together Western European and American first ladies with their African counterparts for an exchange of ideas and best practices,” according to the program. Since implementing free health care, “Sierra Leone has seen a 214-percent increase in the number of children under five getting care in health facilities and a 61-percent decrease in mortality rates in difficult pregnancy cases in health clinics,” Tell Me More reports, statistics that Koroma said are due to “the participation of all of us” (Martin, 9/23).
In addition to “essential money,” “the right policies, government commitment and citizen accountability” are needed to decrease child mortality and improve other global health indicators, “[b]ut the sine qua non for effective health care delivery is health workers. Whether it’s prevention, treatment or care, it’s all about health workers,” Jonathan Glennie, a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.”
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog features an interview with Frederick Sai, a Ghanaian physician who is a member of Aspen’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health and a former president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and director of population at the World Bank. Sai addresses his interest in reproductive health, motivating leaders to talk about family planning, and how his experience as a medical doctor changed his views on family planning, according to the article (Donnelly, 9/26).