“Unwanted babies and unsafe abortion are major problems in the developing world, yet funding for contraception is limited because of attitudes to sex and abortion in donor countries,” the Guardian’s Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog.” She reflects on her time spent in Dakar, Senegal, last week for the 2nd International Conference on Family Planning, and writes that, “in francophone Africa …, only 10 percent of women have access to what are called modern methods of family planning,” such as hormonal contraceptive injections or pills.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
The Guardian profiles Biosense Technologies, an Indian startup company, and its first product, the “world’s first needle-free anemia scanner,” called ToucHb, which will be launched in February. “Anemia, or abnormally low hemoglobin in the blood, affects more than half of children under five and pregnant women in the developing world, according to the [WHO],” and it is a leading cause of maternal mortality because of postpartum hemorrhage, according to the newspaper.
“South Korea said on Monday that it would send 6.5 billion won, or $5.7 million, in aid to North Korea through UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency,” the New York Times reports. South Korea last year suspended aid to North Korea through UNICEF and the WHO, but Seoul last month resumed aid through the WHO, the newspaper notes (Choe, 12/5). “Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday it will donate about $5.7 million to UNICEF programs to send medicines and vaccines and help malnourished North Korean children,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes (12/5).
“Fourteen of the 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean make the rotavirus vaccine available for all infants via national programs,” according to a report published Friday in the CDC’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” United Press International reports. Approximately “seven million infants, 66 percent of the infants born in Latin America and the Caribbean, were immunized in 2010 against rotavirus infection — the most common cause of severe diarrhea among infants and young children, and one of several viruses that cause infections often called stomach flu,” the news agency writes. The WHO recommends rotavirus vaccination for children worldwide, the report noted, stating, “Studies from countries in this region have shown declines in the burden of hospitalizations and deaths related to severe diarrhea after rotavirus vaccine introduction,” according to UPI (12/2).
A new report by Janet Fleischman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, titled “The Global Health Initiative in Malawi: New Approaches and Challenges to Reaching Women and Girls,” examines the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI) in Malawi, stating, “The GHI team in Malawi has identified the health of women…
“Although advances in vaccines, nutrition and family health have dramatically reduced the number of child deaths in the past 50 years, nearly eight million children younger than five still die every year,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in this CNN opinion piece. She adds, “To me, this number is unacceptable, because most of these deaths could be avoided” by providing antibiotics, sterile medical supplies, or education on breastfeeding, as well by improving access to nutrient-rich foods and effective contraceptives.
“Decades of neglect, a failing health system and remote mountainous topography have created a ‘crisis in maternal health,’ according to a government taskforce in Papua New Guinea (PNG),” IRIN reports. “While progress has been made since the taskforce released its recommendations in 2009, some 250 women are still dying for every 100,000 live births, according to a 2008 inter-agency estimate,” the news service writes, adding, “Maternal mortality rates in PNG doubled from 1996-2006, states the government’s most recent national health survey.”
The percentage of pregnant women living with HIV in South Africa “has inched up to 30.2 percent from 29.4 percent last year,” according to the annual National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence survey released by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in Pretoria on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reports (11/29). The survey “sampled over 32,000 pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in October last year,” South Africa’s Times Live notes (11/30).
“Afghans are living longer, fewer infants are dying and more women are surviving childbirth because health care has dramatically improved around the country in the past decade, according to a national survey released Wednesday,” the Associated Press/Guardian reports. The survey, conducted by the Afghan Health Ministry in 2010 and “sponsored and funded by international organizations such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the U.S. government and the British Department for International Development,” “indicates that increased access to health care in Afghanistan, more hospitals and clinics, and more trained health care workers and doctors have significantly contributed to an overall improvement in the health of most Afghans,” the AP writes (11/30).
Report Highlights Improvement In Children’s Well-Being, But Health Organizations Call For Stronger Political Commitment To Maintain Progress
“Children’s well-being has improved dramatically thanks to increased global political will and efficient supportive programs and policies, according to a report released [Wednesday] by [UNICEF] and Save the Children U.K., but it also warns that benefits need to reach the most disadvantaged children for gains to be sustainable,” the U.N. News Centre reports, adding, “Among the most prominent accomplishments highlighted by the report is the significant decline in child mortality rates.” According to the news service, “The authors of the report cite a number of factors for these advancements, but place particular emphasis on the high-level commitment and supportive government policies that have placed children’s well-being as a priority” (11/23).