“Mozambique’s legislature is expected to pass a bill to legalize abortions in March in an effort to reduce the country’s high rate of unsafe … abortions,” the Christian Science Monitor reports, noting under current law, abortion remains illegal in the country under any circumstances. The bill “would revise the country’s … abortion law and legalize voluntary abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy,” making Mozambique “the ninth African country to liberalize its abortion policy in the last decade,” according to the newspaper.
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
“Malaria is killing more people worldwide than previously thought, but the number of deaths has fallen rapidly as efforts to combat the disease have ramped up, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington” published in the Lancet on Thursday, an IHME press release reports. “More than 1.2 million people died from malaria worldwide in 2010, nearly twice the number found in the most recent comprehensive study of the disease,” the press release states (2/2). The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “used new data and new computer modeling to build a historical database for malaria between 1980 and 2010,” BBC News notes (Bowdler, 2/2).
An Indian girl between the ages of one and five years old is 75 percent more likely to die than an Indian boy, giving the country the worst gender differential in child mortality in the world, according to new data released by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Times of India reports. The “data for 150 countries over 40 years show that India and China are the only two countries in the world where female infant mortality is higher than male infant mortality in the 2000s,” the newspaper writes (Shrinivasan, 2/1). In India, for every 100 deaths among females one to five years old, 56 males of the same age group die, whereas the global average is 111 male child deaths to every 100 female children, India Today notes. “Higher mortality among girls is a powerful warning that differential treatment or access to resources is putting girls at a disadvantage,” the report said, according to the news service (2/1).
In this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete examines efforts to meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on maternal and child mortality in Africa, noting, “Although Africa has just 12 percent of the global population, it accounts for half of all maternal deaths and half the deaths of children under five.” He writes, “Though global maternal deaths are in decline and women’s health has at last become a global priority, our goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent in 2015 is still a long way off. … It is unacceptable to allow mothers and children to die when we have the knowledge and resources to save them.”
“Poor-quality emergency immunization campaigns and low routine polio immunization coverage are helping the polio virus to spread in Chad, with 132 cases reported in 2011 — five times the number in 2010,” IRIN reports. “More commitment is needed across the board, especially from local health authorities, to try to get immunizations right, say aid agencies,” the news service adds.
In this AlertNet commentary, GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley discusses how “public-private partnership is part of the GAVI Alliance’s formula for success that has helped countries to immunize 325 million children in our first 10 years, saving more than 5.5 million lives.” Writing last week from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Berkley says, “In fact, public-private partnerships are part of what brings me to Davos this week.”
UNICEF on Friday “appealed … for $1.28 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to children in over 25 countries this year, with nearly one-third of the total amount earmarked for the crisis in the Horn of Africa,” the U.N. News Centre reports (1/27). The agency also released its annual “Humanitarian Action for Children 2012” report, which “decried the rising levels of starvation and malnutrition among children under the age of five in many of the world’s troubled regions,” GlobalPost writes (1/27). UNICEF “said it was seeking nine percent less than in 2011, linked to lower needs in Pakistan and Haiti, but that its needs for fighting hunger had jumped by nearly 50 percent,” according to Agence France-Presse (1/28). The agency said more than one million children in Africa’s Sahel region are at risk of severe malnutrition, Reuters reports (1/27).
IRIN reports that Cote d’Ivoire is abandoning its free health care for all scheme after a period of nine months, noting, “Theft, poor management and rising costs have made the service — introduced by President Alassane Ouattara’s government at the end of civil conflict to ease a dire public health situation — unaffordable.” According to the news service, “As of February, the free service will only be available to mothers and their children,” meaning “free care for deliveries and free treatment for diseases affecting children under six years old.”
“Two groundbreaking initiatives, aimed at realistically achieving the once-unthinkable goal of ending new HIV infections among children by the end of 2015, were launched simultaneously at the World Economic Forum’s [WEF] Annual Conference in Davos” on Friday, according to a Business Leadership Council press release. “The Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free was launched together with a Social Media Syndicate that is designed to reach billions of people around the world … The Syndicate will evolve to focus on other U.N. Health Millennium Development Goals over the coming months,” the press release states (1/27). “The Social Media Syndicate will coordinate the most influential, individual publishers on the Social Web to share messages and actions needed to welcome a ‘Generation Born HIV Free’ and to achieve all the health-related Millennium Development Goals,” according to a press statement from UNAIDS and PEPFAR (1/27).
This post in the Malaria Free Future blog reports on a study underway in Rwanda that aims to measure the prevalence of malaria in pregnancy (MIP). The research is supported by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and is being carried out through its Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) “so that the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) can have data to design appropriate MIP interventions as the country moves towards malaria elimination,” the blog notes. According to the blog, the study of more than 4,000 women “focuses on pregnant women during their first visit to focused antenatal care (FANC) for their current pregnancy” and is currently at the half way mark (Brieger, 1/25).