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Vietnam Closes Kindergartens To Control Outbreak Of Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease

“More than a dozen kindergartens in Vietnam have closed to deal with an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease that has killed 111 children and sickened more than 57,000 this year, an official and the government said,” according to the Associated Press/Washington Post. The southern province of Hau Giang, which reported 70 percent of the recorded 57,055 cases and 90 percent of the 111 deaths in the country, “has had 361 cases since June, and some 50 children are hospitalized,” the AP reports. “The Health Ministry says more than 2,000 new cases of hand, foot and mouth disease are being reported each week. In a typical year, the virus infects up to 15,000 children in Vietnam and kills 20 to 30 of them,” the news agency writes (9/26).

GAVI To Purchase $1 Billion In Childhood Vaccines For Distribution In 37 Of The Poorest Nations

The Geneva-based GAVI Alliance, a fund backed by governments, the World Bank, the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday that it will purchase more than $1 billion in vaccines against rotavirus, pneumococcal and other diseases through deals made with GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. to immunize children in 37 of the poorest nations, Bloomberg reports. “Wealthy nations donated $4.3 billion to purchase the vaccines as part of a plan to immunize 250 million children by 2015,” the news service notes (Bennett, 9/27).

PRI's 'The World' Interviews Member Of Delegation That Investigated Hunger In North Korea

PRI’s “The World” recently spoke with Matt Ellingson, director of Program Development at Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization, who was part of a mission to North Korea this month during which five U.S.-based, non-governmental organizations were allowed to send observers to the country to monitor delivery of aid to areas affected by severe floods this past summer. The group “came away concerned about widespread malnutrition and starvation in North Korea” and “is now calling for an urgent humanitarian intervention,” “The World” reports. The radio show provides audio of the interview and a link to a “factfile” on the North Korea food crisis published in The Telegraph earlier this month (9/23).

Sierra Leone First Lady Discusses Work To Improve Maternal Mortality

NPR’s Tell Me More on Friday interviewed Sierra Leone First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma about her work aimed at improving maternal health in her country. Koroma was in New York attending the African First Ladies Fellowship Program “that brings together Western European and American first ladies with their African counterparts for an exchange of ideas and best practices,” according to the program. Since implementing free health care, “Sierra Leone has seen a 214-percent increase in the number of children under five getting care in health facilities and a 61-percent decrease in mortality rates in difficult pregnancy cases in health clinics,” Tell Me More reports, statistics that Koroma said are due to “the participation of all of us” (Martin, 9/23).

Investing Now In Early Child Development Will Have Long-Term Benefits

Gordon Alexander, director of the office of research at UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre, writes in this post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” that a series published in Friday’s Lancet on early child development (ECD) shows “that the payoff from concerted, integrated action around ECD would be enormous.” Additional focus on and investment in ECD, particularly in the areas of nutrition, maternal and family health, and poverty alleviation, would help children reach their full potential in adulthood, which means “investing in ECD now will quite literally yield billions of dollars in later years,” he says.

Health Workers Key To 'Effective Health Care Delivery'

In addition to “essential money,” “the right policies, government commitment and citizen accountability” are needed to decrease child mortality and improve other global health indicators, “[b]ut the sine qua non for effective health care delivery is health workers. Whether it’s prevention, treatment or care, it’s all about health workers,” Jonathan Glennie, a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.”

Immediate Action Needed To Curb Spread Of TB, Especially Among Children

In this entry in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Kolleen Bouchane, director of ACTION, an international partnership of advocates working to mobilize resources to treat and prevent the spread of tuberculosis (TB), examines the need for improved TB vaccines and diagnostics in order to curb the spread of multidrug-resistant TB, especially among children, and highlights ACTION’s new report (.pdf), “Children and Tuberculosis: Exposing a Hidden Epidemic,” which she says “exposes the link between TB and orphaned and vulnerable children, malnourished children or children living with HIV.”

With Increasing Population, Now Is Not The Time To Cut International Family Planning Funding

Robert Walker, executive vice president of the Population Institute, writes in this Huffington Post opinion piece that despite an increase in government and NGO support for maternal and child health programs, including family planning services, announced last week by the U.N. as part of its Every Woman, Every Child campaign, “the world’s largest donor nation, the United States, is retreating on its commitments to international family planning, and other donor nations may follow suit.”

Is Enough Being Done To Fight Child Mortality?

Though the recent UNICEF report on child mortality shows progress is being made in every region to prevent childhood deaths, “it is clear that we still need to increase the coverage of high-impact, low-cost interventions like vaccines, including those for pneumonia and diarrhea that are rolling out,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of…

Annual World Disasters Report Focuses On Hunger And Malnutrition, Highlights Dichotomy Between Economic Classes

This year’s annual World Disasters Report, published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Thursday, focuses on hunger and malnutrition, but highlights a growing gap between economic classes, the Australian reports, noting “15 percent of the world’s population is going hungry while a record 20 percent now suffer the effects of ‘excess nutrition'” (Hodge, 9/23).