In the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, highlights a report released by the organization last week, titled “Voices from Urban Africa: The Impact of Urban Growth on Children.” The stories of families, government and community leaders “reveal that the ‘urban advantages’ of better health care, education and opportunities to make a good living — often associated with city life — are in reality an urban myth,” she writes, adding, “With greater study and understanding of urban challenges — and ultimately rethinking strategies and increasing investment — the development community, including donors and policymakers, can help Africa respond more effectively to the needs of vulnerable children.” She continues, “Whether addressing children’s protection, health, education or future livelihoods, it is clear that programs must not stand alone” (12/11).
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
“Canada’s foreign aid agency will work with Grand Challenges Canada in a bid to bring ideas for health innovation to the developing world, International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino says,” the Globe and Mail reports. “Fantino announced the partnership with the federally funded group Tuesday morning as he opened a multi-day Grand Challenges Canada meeting in Ottawa,” the newspaper notes, adding, “Fantino used his opening speech to tout Canada’s contribution to maternal and child health through its landmark Muskoka Initiative and call for new ideas that can help increase maternal and child survival.”
IRIN examines efforts to recruit Madagascar’s traditional midwives, called “matronnes,” to “a campaign to get women to deliver in clinics or hospitals, part of a move to lower maternal and newborn death rates.” The country, which has the highest adolescent fertility rate in Africa, has a “moderately high” maternal mortality ratio, despite having “dropped from 710 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 240 per 100,000 live births in 2010,” the news service notes. IRIN describes how health centers and non-governmental organizations are working to provide better maternal and newborn health care by convincing traditional midwives to accompany women in labor to clinics, where skilled birth attendants can attend to them (12/12).
“A UNICEF progress report [.pdf] says that more than 850,000 children are expected to have received life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition across nine countries in the Sahel region during the course of 2012,” according to a UNICEF press release, noting the number is “based on the more than 730,000 children under five treated at centers between January and the end of September.” The press release continues, “The report says early funding by donors such as the Swedish and Danish Governments, the European Union and USAID meant crucial supplies of ready-to-use therapeutic food were purchased in good time and pre-positioned.” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s acting regional director, said in the press release, “In 2012 a tremendous effort meant we were able to give every child who was able to arrive at a treatment center appropriate care. But we need to get to the state where more robust systems are in place and treatment centers see far fewer children” (12/11).
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog features two posts on maternal health in Ethiopia. In the first, Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes about her trip to the country to “observe Save the Children’s work with frontline health workers.” She writes, “Ethiopia, a country of 84 million and one of the world’s poorest according to the World Bank, is working diligently to save the lives of women and children; and it’s doing it with the help of an army of thousands of women.” James notes, “The Ethiopian government has trained over 38,000 health extension workers (HEWs) since 2003 — all women” (12/11). In the second post, Tesfaye Arage, a nurse in Ethiopia with Marie Stopes International, notes the WHO recently released guidelines (.pdf) on tasksharing on maternal and newborn health care, and he describes how his team in Ethiopia is implementing tasksharing methods (12/11).
Noting the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence,” Neil Boothby, U.S. government special adviser and senior coordinator to the USAID administrator on children in adversity, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” “The science is clear — childhood experiences shape adult outcomes, including long-term health, cognitive development, academic achievement, and one’s ability to be gainfully and safely employed.” He continues, “In the same way that public health efforts have prevented and reduced pregnancy-related complications, infant mortality, infectious diseases and illnesses, so can the factors that contribute to violent and abusive responses — attitudes, behavior and social, economic, political and cultural conditions — be changed.” Boothby notes the U.S. government this week “will release an Action Plan on Children in Adversity [.pdf], the first-ever government-wide strategic guidance for international assistance for children” (12/9).
In this Guardian “Global Development Professionals Network” blog post, Robert Steinglass, senior immunization adviser at John Snow, Inc., and immunization team leader for the USAID-funded Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program, writes about the importance of innovation to improving childhood immunization programs and health systems. He notes he recently moderated a panel at the GAVI Partners’ Forum, during which participants discussed different approaches.
“I’m inspired when I see the growing number and quality of health market innovations now emerging in the developing world,” Gina Lagomarsino, a principal and managing director at Results for Development Institute (R4D), writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Since 2010, the Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI) has been identifying, analyzing, and promoting innovations that have potential to improve not only maternal and child health, but many other types of care for low-income people,” she notes, adding, “In our second annual edition of Highlights [.pdf], released this week, we describe 80 innovative programs launched in the last 12 months around the world” (12/10).
Noting the recognition of International Human Rights Day on December 9, Purnima Mane, president and CEO of Pathfinder International, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, “[E]very person should be able to make decisions about her or his body,” making reproductive rights a human rights issue. “From the London Summit on Family Planning supported by Melinda Gates, where thousands gathered to commit future investments in family planning, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s strong advocacy to ensure U.S. leadership in global health that includes reproductive rights as human rights, to the work that’s happening on the ground in myriad countries around the globe to provide contraception, improve maternal health, ensure HIV prevention and treatment, and much more — progress is happening,” Mane writes, noting some of the barriers and challenges that remain in “[e]stablishing reproductive rights as human rights for all” (12/9).
“British mobile phone group Vodafone and drug maker GlaxoSmithKline are joining forces on a novel project to increase childhood vaccination rates in Mozambique using text messaging,” Reuters reports. With the aim of increasing the proportion of children covered by vaccination by five to 10 percent, a one-year pilot project supported by Save the Children “will register mothers on a ministry of health database, alert them to the availability of vaccinations and allow them to schedule appointments by text,” the news agency notes. In addition, a three-year partnership between Vodafone and the GAVI Alliance, supported by the British government, will “study how health ministries across sub-Saharan Africa can use mobile technology to improve their immunization programs,” Reuters notes, adding, “Britain will match Vodafone’s contribution of technology and services with a $1.5 million cash contribution to GAVI” (12/10).