“Morocco has made great strides in improving maternal health in recent years, decreasing its maternal mortality ratio by over 60 percent since 1990,” but “a wide maternal health gap” exists between women in urban and rural areas, where deliveries generally are attended by an experienced yet untrained family member, Women’s eNews reports. In 2010, according to a 2011 report from the U.N. Population Fund, the maternal mortality rate in urban areas was 73 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with 148 deaths per 100,000 live births in rural areas, the news service notes. “[W]hen a [rural] woman runs into serious trouble … access to life-saving care is a two-hour walk away, on a rough mountainous path sometimes blocked by snow,” the news service writes, adding Abdelghani Drhimeur, head of communications at the Ministry of Health in Rabat, said, “Seventy percent of mothers who die do so on the way to the hospital.” Women’s eNews examines several organizations’ efforts to educate women about sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, and technical midwifery skills (Bhatia, 9/24).
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Following the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in July, “delegates left Washington with a clear focus on achieving an AIDS-free generation,” Chip Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “But in the weeks following, HIV/AIDS and global health have largely disappeared from our political dialogue,” he says, because “[n]ational attention is squarely focused on the November elections, and we haven’t seen the ‘post-conference’ bounce that these issues deserve.” He continues, “Although there was mention of support for PEPFAR and the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] at this summer’s conventions, this kind of high-level call to action was noticeably absent in Tampa and Charlotte.”
Noting successes achieved under the Every Woman Every Child campaign and the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog that leaders “have stepped up and stood strong for critical issues on the women’s and children’s health agenda to advance the health Millennium Development Goals and ensure the sustainability of results beyond 2015.” He adds, “Most of all, they have engaged in a radical paradigm shift that places the notion of global solidarity at the core of our work.” With the estimated number of children newly infected with HIV dropping and more women undergoing HIV testing and receiving antiretroviral medications, “[t]hese achievements deserve global attention,” Sidibe says.
“No woman should die giving birth, and yet maternal mortality, despite progress, remains one of the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age in developing countries,” Mary Ellen Stanton, senior maternal health adviser for the Global Health Bureau, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog.” She notes, “Most of these deaths are preventable.” She highlights the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative, writing it “represents a unique partnership through which the United States government has enlisted significant support from key public, private and non-governmental players in the global health field with one collective purpose — to reduce maternal mortality” (9/24).
In a post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” CARE President and CEO Helene Gayle describes a new multi-partner initiative, called “Women and Girls Lead Global,” which aims to spread “the stories of … resilient women and girls” through documentary films that will air in nine countries over three years. The goal of the initiative, which is sponsored by CARE, USAID, the Independent Television Service (ITVS), and the Ford Foundation, “is to educate and inspire the public to take action on the development challenges and gender inequities that girls and women face,” she writes. Gayle concludes, “I encourage you to explore the Women and Girls Lead Global website, where you will find film clips and interactive activities. These girls and women have a story to tell, and with your support, their achievements will start a ripple of change in communities around the world” (9/24).
PRI’s “The World” reports on malnutrition in India, where “eight million children … suffer from severe acute malnutrition, according to the Indian government.” However, the news service writes that “when it comes to treating those children, India lacks what many consider one of the best tools available: so-called ready-to-use therapeutic foods,” such as “the most well-known therapeutic food, Plumpy’Nut, … a patented concoction of peanut butter and micro-nutrients that allows severely malnourished children to be treated at home instead of at a hospital.” PRI notes, “Plumpy’Nut is not authorized for the treatment of malnutrition in India, and some doctors feared that dependence on a foreign import would come at the expense of the kind of locally produced food that Indian families prepare at home.”
Preliminary Results Of MSF Malaria Prevention Program Suggest Malaria Drugs Prevent Disease In Healthy Children
A large-scale malaria prevention program through which medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) gave intermittent doses of anti-malaria drugs to 175,000 children in Mali and Chad suggests that “widely distributing anti-malaria drugs to healthy children in African countries can significantly reduce the number of new cases of the disease,” VOA News reports. “The [program] was launched in July and will continue through next month, a period of high transmission for malaria,” the news service notes (9/24). “Preliminary results from the program, known as seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC), show that the number of cases of simple malaria dropped by 65 percent in the intervention area in Mali, and by up to 86 percent in Chad,” according to an MSF press release, which adds, “A significant decrease in cases of severe malaria has also been recorded.”
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Gary Darmstadt, head of the family health division of the foundation, family planning expert Monica Kerrigan, and Wendy Prosser, a research analyst with the foundation’s family health division, examine global initiatives “launched in recent months and years” that bring “needed attention to women’s and children’s health,” including “the Muskoka Initiative, Every Woman Every Child, the Child Survival Promise to Keep, and the Millennium Development Goals.” They highlight the goals and metrics established at the Summit on Family Planning in July and write, “We hope this is not just another commitment that generates a lot of attention and then fades away” (9/21).
Scaling Up Access To Maternal, Child Health Care Would Prevent Most Deaths During Pregnancy, Childbirth
“Every day, 800 women lose their lives giving birth — 287,000 each year — and the vast majority of these deaths occurs in developing countries. … These deaths are unacceptable, particularly because they are preventable,” the heads of the Health 4+ (UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, U.N. Women, the WHO, and the World Bank, known as H4+) write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. They continue, “Every woman giving birth should be able to turn to a skilled health worker, and be given the life-saving — and cost-effective — medicines so critical to her and her baby.” They note the group is meeting “[o]n 24 September — during the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly, … to advocate at the highest levels for the health of women and children globally” and “bolster joint efforts towards meeting the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly in countries that are lagging the furthest behind.”
Joint Report Calls For Action On Child Nutrition In Countries With Highest Numbers Of Malnourished Children
“Countries with the highest numbers of malnourished children urgently need to step up the way they respond to the problem in order to prevent millions of unnecessary deaths, according to a joint report,” titled the “Nutrition Barometer” and released on Friday by Save the Children and World Vision, AlertNet reports. According to the news service, the report, “which provides a snapshot of national governments’ commitments to addressing children’s nutrition, found that of 36 countries, where 90 percent of the world’s malnourished children live, almost a quarter have shown little progress in tackling the crisis” (Win, 9/21).