“[W]omen and children everywhere deserve quality health care,” Kathy Bushkin Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “As many in the development community say, investing in the health of women and children isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing to do,” she continues, adding, “When women and children are healthy, they can learn more and earn more, which leads to more stable and productive communities.” Though the world has made “important progress on this front,” “[w]e must continually assess our progress and talk about where we need to do better, because when the international community mobilizes, we can generate meaningful change,” she says, noting “we have more work to do … in order to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which set critical targets for reducing child and maternal mortality by 2015.”
In the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, Smisha Agarwal, co-founder and India country director of Global Health Bridge, examines the global migration of health workers, highlighting a book titled “Insourced,” in which Kate Tulenko, senior director for health systems innovation at IntraHealth International, “argues that the U.S. drains health care workers from poor countries.” Agarwal writes, “A quarter of physicians in the U.S. are imported mostly from developing countries; a quarter of which come from India, where the deficit of health care workers is amongst the largest in the world.” She continues, “Billions of dollars of health care aid from the U.S. may help with improving infrastructure, but there is no replacement for the lost health care providers.”
Leading up to the debates this month and the November presidential election, “President Obama would be wise to talk up our effective aid programs and the soft power they provide with regional allies,” particularly the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), Roger Bate, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, and Kimberly Hess, a researcher with Africa Fighting Malaria, write in a New York Daily News opinion piece. “Pointing to the enormous success of this program — and announcing a budget increase — would score valuable points with swing voters and potentially even help Democrats pull some of them off the fence,” they write. Seven years after former President George W. Bush launched PMI, the program “stands among the most effective government programs in recent history — and a rare, genuinely bipartisan foreign policy achievement,” the authors state, noting “under-five mortality rates have declined by 16-50 percent in 11 PMI target countries in which surveys have been conducted.”
In this Foreign Affairs opinion piece, Todd Moss, vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and former deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department, reflects on President Obama’s approach to Africa, discussing various policies by the current and previous administrations. Moss compares Obama’s approach to Africa with that of his predecessors, highlighting former President Bill Clinton’s African Growth and Opportunity Act, “which reduced trade barriers on more than 1,800 products exported from the continent to the United States,” and former President George W. Bush’s launching of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the President’s Malaria Initiative, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
A New York Times editorial reflects on “a strong executive order aimed at ending human trafficking activities by government contractors and subcontractors,” announced by President Obama on September 25 “in a passionate address on the issue … at the Clinton Global Initiative.” The editorial states, “This should be the first of several steps to bolster the attack on a scourge that Mr. Obama described as ‘modern slavery.'” “Among other things, Mr. Obama should put the weight of his office behind a bipartisan bill in Congress, the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act,” the editorial continues, adding, “The bill would strengthen the administration’s executive initiative by embedding into law safeguards against substandard wages, abusive working conditions and sexual and labor exploitation.”
In a guest post on the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog, Margaret McGlynn, president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and William Snow, director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, discuss the recent AIDS Vaccine 2012 Conference that was held in Boston. “There has been so much progress in every aspect of HIV prevention research over the last three years that [researchers] had plenty to report,” they write, adding, “[I]t is increasingly clear that defeating HIV will require the combined application of a number of interventions.” They review the results of several studies and comments from several speakers and conclude, “[S]cientific partnership across borders and oceans has long been a hallmark of HIV vaccine development. That, after all, is what brought the field to where it is now: on the verge of a transformation” (Barton, 10/1).
Mobile phones and other SMS-based platforms are being used to improve health care systems worldwide and have “opened the gateway to establishing emergency triage systems, sending medication adherence reminders, enabling home-based antenatal care, tracking community immunization and dispatching mass announcements detailing satellite clinic schedules and locations,” Nadim Mahmud, co-founder of Medic Mobile, writes in a CNN opinion piece. “While I am focused on helping people in the developing countries, I am keenly aware that mobile health care innovations also impact people close to home,” he says.
“I’m encouraged by the focus on children’s health alongside other pressing global issues” at the U.N. General Assembly meeting last week, Dagfinn Hoybraten, vice president of the Norwegian Parliament and chair of the GAVI Alliance Board, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, adding, “These discussions come in the wake of UNICEF’s latest report on declines in child mortality around the world.” He provides some statistics from the report and notes, “In June, the governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, along with UNICEF, launched a renewed global commitment to child survival at a meeting in Washington.”
“While reports from the United Nations as well as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) indicate that maternal deaths are declining around the world, far too many women continue to die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth,” Ana Langer, director of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “In fact, every 90 seconds a young woman dies unnecessarily when she is giving life,” she continues, noting, “More than 90 percent of these deaths could be avoided, if all women had timely access to good quality care.”
“Supplies — the essential medicines and medical equipment frontline health workers need to successfully do their jobs — are a vital part of the solution to saving the lives of mothers and newborns,” Catharine Taylor, a maternal health expert with PATH, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, adding, “And yet, they are frequently overlooked in the ongoing conversation about how to improve maternal health in the developing world.” She continues, “All the skilled health care workers in the world can’t deliver the care women need if a clinic’s stock is empty and the next round of supplies is weeks away. Reliable availability of maternal health medicines and supplies will ultimately strengthen health care systems and make frontline health workers more effective.”