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Improving Obstetric Care With Solar Power

In the National Geographic News blog “Mobile Message,” “a series of posts from FrontlineSMS about how mobile phones and appropriate technologies are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives,” Laura Stachel, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the co-founder and executive director of WE CARE Solar, writes about the “‘Solar Suitcase,’ a portable, rugged, complete solar electric kit packed with solar panels, a charge controller, batteries, medical LED lights, phone chargers, headlamps, and a fetal monitor.” She says the suitcases improve lighting so surgeries can be performed 24 hours a day; allow nurses to contact on-call physicians in the case of emergency through a mobile phone; and, with alterations, power blood bank refrigerators (Banks, 1/12).

Melinda Gates, Nicholas Kristof Answer More Questions About Bangladesh, Public Health

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof continue to answer readers’ questions in this second installment on Kristof’s “On the Ground” blog. Gates and Kristof answer questions about corruption and contraception in Bangladesh, where Gates recently visited, and why more efforts are not being concentrated on children in the U.S. (1/11).

Bangladesh Works To Vaccinate 500K Children Against Polio In Annual Immunization Drive

“Mobile health teams in Bangladesh are conducting ‘child-to-child’ searches to reach the remaining half million children not vaccinated during a nationwide polio immunization campaign launched on 7 January,” IRIN reports. With a goal of vaccinating 22 million children, health workers are heading into hard-to-reach and high-risk areas to vaccinate the remaining 560,791 children, the news service writes. “Since a polio outbreak in 2006 of an imported viral strain, the government has not reported any infections, pledging annual polio vaccinations until [neighboring] India is declared polio-free,” IRIN notes, adding the next round of polio vaccinations in Bangladesh is scheduled for February 11 (1/11).

Investing In Frontline Health Workers Effective In Saving Lives Of Mothers, Children

In the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, writes about the Frontline Health Workers Coalition’s call on the U.S. government to train 250,000 new frontline health workers in developing countries, stating, “At a time when every dollar counts more than ever, the new Frontline Health Workers Coalition believes this focus is the most cost-effective way to save mothers’ and children’s lives around the world, address global health threats, and help advance strategic U.S. interests in a secure and prosperous world.”

Report Finds 42% Of Children Under 5 Malnourished In India; Prime Minister Deems Child Malnutrition ‘National Shame’

“Roughly 42 percent of all Indian children under age five suffer from malnutrition, a sobering reminder of the persistence of poverty and hunger in the world’s largest democracy, according to a major report released” on Tuesday by the Naandi Foundation, an independent charitable organization, the New York Times reports. “Levels of malnutrition, while still high, have fallen by 20 percent in the last seven years,” the newspaper notes (Yardley, 1/10). “The Hunger and Malnutrition Survey monitored over 100,000 children in 112 districts across nine states in the country from October 2010 to February of last year,” the Associated Press writes (1/10).

Frontline Health Workers Coalition Launches Initiative To Add 1M Health Care Workers In Developing Countries

The Frontline Health Workers Coalition — which consists of 16 major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Family Care International, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, and RESULTS — has launched “a new initiative to add one million health care workers in developing countries,” VOA News reports, adding that the “Coalition says training more community-level workers is the most cost effective way to save lives, speed progress on global health threats and promote U.S. economic and strategic interests” (DeCapua, 1/11). “The Coalition, which launched today with the release of a new report (.pdf) focusing on the need for frontline health workers, is calling on the U.S. administration to train and support an additional 250,000 new frontline health workers — and to better support the capacity and impact of existing workers where the need is greatest,” a Coalition press release (.pdf) states (1/11).

Reaching WHO PMTCT Goal In Zimbabwe

Researchers in this PLoS Medicine article examine the efforts necessary to reach the WHO goal of reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission (MTCT) risk to less than five percent in Zimbabwe. They conclude, “Implementation of the WHO [prevention of MTCT (PMTCT)] guidelines must be accompanied by efforts to improve access to PMTCT services, retain women in care, and support medication adherence throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, to approach the ‘virtual elimination’ of pediatric HIV in Zimbabwe,” according to the study (Ciaranello et al., 1/10). A Massachusetts General Hospital press release states the research “should help with the planning of expanded programs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas with limited health resources” (1/10).

The Nation Examines Whether Nigeria Will Be Able To Attain MDGs Related To Maternal, Infant Mortality

Nigeria’s “The Nation” examines whether, with three years until the deadline for attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the country will be able to meet the targets of reducing maternal and infant mortality by one-third as set by the U.N. The newspaper provides statistics from UNICEF regarding maternal and infant mortality in the country and quotes a number of health experts, including Edamisan Temiye, chair of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State Branch, who “said with the rate Nigeria is going, it may not realize its target of one-third reduction of maternal and infant deaths by 2015.” According to the newspaper, Temiye cites a “virtually failed” immunization program, a high poverty level, and limited access to education, water, and housing as contributing factors to Nigeria’s maternal and infant mortality rates (Adepoju, 1/10).

Political Turmoil In Yemen Causing Breakdown Of Social Services, Increased Threats To Child Welfare

“Yemen’s populist uprising and the political crisis that followed have pushed the country to the brink of a humanitarian emergency, according to the United Nations and aid agencies,” the Washington Post reports, noting that “children have been hit especially hard.” The newspaper continues, “Fresh conflicts, including a raging battle between the government and Islamist militants, have disrupted basic services; water, fuel and electricity shortages affect nearly every aspect of life, from hospital operations to trash collection. Food prices are rising, and health services have collapsed. In a nation in which half the population is younger than 18, many aid workers fear that the political crisis and the problems it has spawned will be felt beyond this generation of children” (Raghavan, 1/8). The newspaper also provides a graphic on malnourishment rates in Yemen and select other countries (1/8).