In the Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH) “Global Health Impact” blog, Barbara Ayotte, director of strategic communications at MSH, reports on a luncheon discussion on the London Summit on Family Planning, held in Boston in November. She notes, “Boston-area international health and development groups — MSH, Pathfinder International, John Snow, Inc. (JSI), Ibis Reproductive Health, and the Women and Health Initiative at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) — came together” for the event, and she quotes several speakers (12/11).
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“Afghan women are frequent victims of abuse, despite some success by authorities in prosecuting rape cases, forced marriages and domestic violence under a three-year-old law, according to a report [.pdf] issued Tuesday by the United Nations,” the Associated Press reports (Reichmann, 12/11). “Enacted in August 2009, the Afghan legislation criminalizes and specifies punishments for acts such as child marriage, forced marriage, selling and buying women under the pretext of marriage, giving away a woman or girl to settle a dispute, forced self-immolation, rape and beating,” VOA News notes (Gul, 12/11). For the report, “[t]he U.N. collected information from 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces over a 12-month period ending in September to find out how existing laws protecting women were being implemented,” Al Jazeera writes (Latifi, 12/12).
In the U.N. Foundation Blog, Gretchen King, director of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI), examines the efforts of LMI to “mobiliz[e] U.S. Lutherans in the global effort to end malaria deaths in Africa.” She writes, “While much of our campaign has focused on U.S. Lutherans, recently LMI held its first advocacy day on Capitol Hill,” adding, “We shared with several members of Congress and their staffs the work of LMI, the importance of continued U.S. bilateral funding for anti-malaria programs, and strong support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria” (12/11).
“Global efforts to reach the ‘three zeros’ for women and girls — zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths — are gaining momentum,” Michelle Bachelet, executive director of U.N. Women, Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, and Jennifer Gatsi Mallet, executive director of the Namibia Women’s Health Network, write in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. “Much of the progress we have seen is underpinned by the work of women living with HIV,” they write, detailing some of the progress. “Despite these gains, our efforts for women and girls remain inadequate — a message amplified by women living with HIV from around the world in the new report ‘Women out loud,'” the authors state.
“Canada’s foreign aid agency will work with Grand Challenges Canada in a bid to bring ideas for health innovation to the developing world, International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino says,” the Globe and Mail reports. “Fantino announced the partnership with the federally funded group Tuesday morning as he opened a multi-day Grand Challenges Canada meeting in Ottawa,” the newspaper notes, adding, “Fantino used his opening speech to tout Canada’s contribution to maternal and child health through its landmark Muskoka Initiative and call for new ideas that can help increase maternal and child survival.”
IRIN examines efforts to recruit Madagascar’s traditional midwives, called “matronnes,” to “a campaign to get women to deliver in clinics or hospitals, part of a move to lower maternal and newborn death rates.” The country, which has the highest adolescent fertility rate in Africa, has a “moderately high” maternal mortality ratio, despite having “dropped from 710 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 240 per 100,000 live births in 2010,” the news service notes. IRIN describes how health centers and non-governmental organizations are working to provide better maternal and newborn health care by convincing traditional midwives to accompany women in labor to clinics, where skilled birth attendants can attend to them (12/12).
“The United Nations [on Tuesday] announced a new initiative to help eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the two nations that make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘The new initiative will invest in prevention, treatment, and education — it will take a holistic approach to tackling the cholera challenge,’ said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the initiative’s launch,” according to the news service (12/11). “With the number of reported cases exceeding 620,000 since the epidemic started in October 2010, [Ban] acknowledged the ‘heavy toll’ as he launched the 10-year initiative,” Agence France-Presse writes.
“United Nations member states pledged $384 million on Tuesday to an emergency fund that will allow the world body to respond quickly to natural disasters and other crises in 2013, U.N. aid chief Valerie Amos said,” Reuters reports. “The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) … has raised more than $2.8 billion since it was launched in 2006,” and “[s]o far in 2012, the fund has allocated $465 million for humanitarian aid in 49 countries, including Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria, North Korea, Haiti and Pakistan,” the news agency notes (12/11). At a high-level conference on the CERF, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “From flood zones to war zones, CERF stops crises from turning into catastrophes. … The Fund does this through quick, targeted support when an emergency starts or by injecting funds in stubbornly under-funded situations,” according to the U.N. News Centre. “The rapid and flexible support offered by the CERF makes it a central pillar of the U.N. agencies’ humanitarian response,” Amos said at the conference, the news service notes (12/11).
“A UNICEF progress report [.pdf] says that more than 850,000 children are expected to have received life-saving treatment for severe acute malnutrition across nine countries in the Sahel region during the course of 2012,” according to a UNICEF press release, noting the number is “based on the more than 730,000 children under five treated at centers between January and the end of September.” The press release continues, “The report says early funding by donors such as the Swedish and Danish Governments, the European Union and USAID meant crucial supplies of ready-to-use therapeutic food were purchased in good time and pre-positioned.” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s acting regional director, said in the press release, “In 2012 a tremendous effort meant we were able to give every child who was able to arrive at a treatment center appropriate care. But we need to get to the state where more robust systems are in place and treatment centers see far fewer children” (12/11).
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog features two posts on maternal health in Ethiopia. In the first, Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, writes about her trip to the country to “observe Save the Children’s work with frontline health workers.” She writes, “Ethiopia, a country of 84 million and one of the world’s poorest according to the World Bank, is working diligently to save the lives of women and children; and it’s doing it with the help of an army of thousands of women.” James notes, “The Ethiopian government has trained over 38,000 health extension workers (HEWs) since 2003 — all women” (12/11). In the second post, Tesfaye Arage, a nurse in Ethiopia with Marie Stopes International, notes the WHO recently released guidelines (.pdf) on tasksharing on maternal and newborn health care, and he describes how his team in Ethiopia is implementing tasksharing methods (12/11).