European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs announced during a visit to South Africa on Monday that the European Union (E.U.) “will contribute 126 million euros to South Africa’s fight against AIDS and tuberculosis (TB),” money that “will be used to improve South Africa’s primary health care system, increasing access for patients,” Reuters reports (9/12).
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Several news sources have published opinion pieces regarding the ongoing famine in Somalia and hunger situation in the Horn of Africa, some of which are summarized below:
The Washington Post examines how high rates of malnutrition among Somali children — approximately 36 percent under age five are malnourished and almost 16 percent are severely malnourished, according to Somalia’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit — are “the biggest test yet of recent improvements in assessing and treating malnutrition, changes that range from the coordination of care to the ingredients of food aid.”
PBS NewsHour’s blog “The Rundown” examines a “report from the U.N.’s Every Woman, Every Child Innovation Working Group, out in the Lancet Monday, [which] looks at some of the promising and innovative projects” aimed at improving maternal and child health. “More than 350,000 women die each year around the globe from complications of childbirth, and three million children die in the first month of life,” according to the blog (Miller, 9/12). The report “was prepared as part of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Every Woman Every Child’ Initiative, a global strategy for improving women and children’s health, launched last year,” according to a U.N. Foundation press release (9/12).
Speaking at a workshop on maternal morbidity and mortality in Korofidua, Ghana on Thursday, which was organized for journalists in the region, acting Eastern Regional Director of Health Services Larbi Addo challenged the media to help change negative perceptions about pregnancy and child-bearing in an effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the country, GhanaWeb reports. “He said the campaign to reduce maternal mortality was a shared responsibility and asked the media to support the health sector in educating the public on the subject,” the news service reports.
In a systematic review published by the Cochrane Collaboration last week, researchers found that the micronutrient powder used in recent years to combat malnutrition, anemia and iron deficiency in children was very helpful in preventing malnutrition in children six to 24 months old, VOA News reports. World Health Organization epidemiologist Luz Maria De Regil “and other researchers combined the results of eight previous studies involving thousands of children,” VOA writes, adding, “The studies were done on three continents, in countries as varied as Haiti, Cambodia, and Ghana.”
Reducing Malaria Incidence Could Also Drastically Reduce Deaths From Bacterial Infections, Study Says
“Reducing the incidence of malaria could also drastically reduce the number of deaths from bacterial infections among children in Africa, a study” published last week in the Lancet found, according to SciDev.Net. “‘Children who are protected from malaria are less likely to catch bacterial infections. It therefore means that controlling malaria will give an additional benefit,’ Anthony Scott, the lead author and a researcher at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, in Kenya, told SciDev.Net.”
Usha Kiran Tarigopula, deputy director in global health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes about the Foundationâ€™s partnership with the state of Bihar, India through the Ananya Alliance “aimed at reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality by 40 percent by 2015,” in this “Inpatient Optimists” blog post, which is part of a series called “Global Conversations on Newborn Health in India.” She writes, “The emphasis is on family planning, pre- and post-delivery care for mothers and their newly born infants, immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, care and nutrition for children up to two years old, and routine immunization. Coverage for treatment of diarrhea and pneumonia, as well as some neglected diseases and sanitation, is also a part of the plan” (9/7).
The Washington Post looks at the conditions within Banadir Hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. “The scenes … reflect the immense challenge facing this Horn of Africa nation, already besieged by multiple woes, from civil war to radical Islamist militants to a weak transitional government incapable of governing effectively, despite massive support from the United States and its allies,” the newspaper writes (Raghavan, 9/7).
Inter Press Service examines what some experts are calling a lack of commitment from health care workers, which they say is “among the reasons why Africa may not succeed in achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 on improving maternal health by 2015 by reducing maternal mortality by three quarters.” According to IPS, “Studies conducted by the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) in East, West and Southern Africa found that most countries are struggling to provide universal access to reproductive health.”