CBS News reports on Afghanistan’s efforts to improve maternal health, writing, “In larger cities, maternity care is improving. But modern health care is a world away for most Afghans. For a pregnant woman, traveling the rough terrain to a clinic is nearly impossible. Only one in four births take place under professional care, so even the smallest medical issue can be fatal.” The news service adds, “One bit of hope: USAID helps sponsor midwife classes to fill the gaping hole in the number of trained medical professionals, a result of the Taliban’s prohibition on educating women. More than 2,500 midwives have graduated, and the infant mortality rate has since declined 22 percent” (Clark, 10/4).
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Rick Scott, mission director of USAID in Timor-Leste, reports on a health-focused field trip to the “sub-village” of Hatugeo in Timor-Lesteâ€™s central highlands where USAID-trained community health workers are working to improve maternal and child health by providing pre- and postnatal care information to expectant and new mothers. Hatugeo is located in the district of Ermera, where the infant mortality rate is 70 deaths per 1,000 live births, only three percent of mothers deliver their babies in a health care facility, and a higher percentage of children show signs of malnourishment and illness than in the rest of the country (10/3).
The Guardian examines a text messaging program in Tanzania initiated by Vodacom Tanzania and local NGO Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) that utilizes Africa’s mobile phone banking system, M-Pesa, to provide women suffering from obstetric fistula, caused by difficult childbirth, with the funds necessary to travel to health facilities for treatment. “CCRBT and Vodacom have now appointed a team of 60 ‘ambassadors’ to travel around the country diagnosing women with the condition. Within an hour of an ambassador finding a patient a date is set for surgery and money for transport is texted to the ambassador, who takes the patient to the bus stop,” according to the Guardian.
Cambodia’s director of dengue control at the Ministry of Health, Ngan Chantha, said on Monday that from January to September of this year, 12,392 cases of dengue fever had been reported and 54 children have died of the disease, Xinhua reports. In all of 2010, 5,497 cases of dengue and 37 child deaths from the disease were recorded, according to the news agency.
Use Of Injectable Hormone Contraceptive May Double Risk Of Contracting, Transmitting HIV, Study Shows
“The most popular contraceptive for women in eastern and southern Africa, a hormone shot given every three months, appears to double the risk the women will become infected with HIV,” according to a study involving 3,800 sero-discordant couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the New York Times reports. The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and published Monday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, also found that when the contraceptive was “used by HIV-positive women, their male partners are twice as likely to become infected than if the women had used no contraception,” the newspaper writes. In addition, the study “found that oral contraceptives appeared to increase risk of HIV infection and transmission, but the number of pill users in the study was too small to be considered statistically significant, the authors said,” according to the New York Times.
“With almost 30,000 cases of measles and eight deaths from the disease recorded in the European Union so far this year, a leading health official is urging doctors to do more to ensure parents have their children vaccinated with” the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, Reuters reports. Marc Sprenger, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), “said MMR vaccine coverage rates across the region are currently around 90 percent, leaving significant groups such as children or young adults unprotected,” and that “it was crucial for pediatricians and family doctors to give balanced, evidence-based information to help parents decide on vaccinations,” Reuters writes.
Isobel Coleman, senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and director of the Civil Society, Markets and Democracy Initiative at the Council On Foreign Relations, reports on the council’s website on maternal health in Afghanistan, writing that “one out of 11 Afghan women is likely to die in childbirth during her…
Ghana’s First Lady Ernestina Naadu Mills on Thursday launched the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality (CARMMA), an international campaign aimed at fighting maternal mortality, in Koforidua in the Eastern Region of the country, the Ghana News Agency reports. “She said all stakeholders have a role to play to ensure that expectant mothers get to health facilities early enough to have a skilled delivery,” efforts that would help the nation meet the millennium development goals (MDGs) for maternal and child mortality, the news agency writes (9/30). According to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Mills said the nation’s maternal mortality rate is 451 per 100,000 (9/29).
In this Daily Monitor opinion piece, Anthony Masake of the Uganda Law Society stresses the importance of addressing maternal mortality in Uganda and asserts that the country cannot achieve development without increased efforts to meet national maternal health targets. He places emphasis on the need to invest in midwifery and nursing services, among other strategies, writing, “Within the context of inadequate financial resources, mounting health demands, escalating health care costs, rising population, and heightened public expectations, midwifery and nursing services present a platform from which we can scale-up health interventions to assist in meeting national health targets.”
Inter Press Service examines the challenges that non-governmental organizations and the government face in trying to prevent fistula among women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where an estimated 12,000 cases are recorded annually because of sexual violence, early marriage and complications in childbirth, according to the Ministry of Public Health. Poverty, early pregnancy and marriage, sexual violence, and a lack of education and knowledge about the condition contribute to its prevalence, IPS reports (Chaco, 9/27).