Women & Gender

{Photo credit: LMS Haiti/MSH}Photo credit: LMS Haiti/MSH

Today, as we celebrate International Youth Day and the theme of “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward,” we are reminded of difficult situations millions of young people experience every day—and of the power young people have to create change in their lives when they connect with their peers.

Adolescents and young men and women need access to quality, affordable reproductive health services. In the developing world, 52 million never-married women, aged 15-24, are sexually active and in need of reproductive health and HIV prevention services and information. Yet, adolescent girls often face greater barriers than adult women in accessing them. In the sub-Saharan Africa region, only 21 percent of married adolescents are using a modern contraceptive method; and the adolescent birth rate in the region is four times the rate in Europe and Central Asia. In the Latin America region, teenagers have doubled their proportion of the fertility rate from 8.5 percent in 1955 to 14.3 percent in 2005, despite a steady decline in overall fertility numbers.

International breastfeeding symbol

This week the global health community celebrates World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7). Breast milk is nutritious, clean, available, natural, and does not require special preparation or handling. Let’s take a moment to consider some of the numerous benefits of breastfeeding to baby and mom:

  1. Breastfeeding is the world's most effective solution to reducing child deaths
  2. Breastfeeding could save the lives of nearly 1 million children per year
  3. Breastfeeding reduces deaths to pneumonia and diarrhea
  4. Breastfeeding and nursing promote closeness for baby and mom
  5. Nursing reduces mom’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer later in life
  6. Nursing contributes to reduction in maternal mortality by helping moms space their births and prevent unintended pregnancy
  7. Nursing helps lower rates of obesity among women

In addition to the individual benefits to baby and mom, breastfeeding can help the global community achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 (reduce child mortality), 5 (reduce maternal mortality), and 1 (reduce poverty and hunger).

{Photo credit: Reavis/MSH, Malawi}Photo credit: Reavis/MSH, Malawi

The World Health Organization (WHO) made waves at the International AIDS Society conference in Kuala Lumpur when it issued revised guidelines for HIV treatment. The new guidelines—WHO’s first major update since 2010—recommend an earlier start to treatment, from a CD4 threshold of 350 cells/mm3 to 500 cells/mm3. While most patients don’t show symptoms of disease at these higher CD4 counts (a measure of immune system strength), the new guidelines responded to evidence that an earlier start improves long-term clinical outcomes and that ARV treatment dramatically reduces patients’ likelihood of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

My family’s story exemplifies how access to reproductive health and family planning in a low-income country can have tremendous economic and life-transforming impact for young people and a whole generation—beyond the reduction in fertility and improvements in health.

My parents got married in the 60s, at a time when Profamilia, The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) affiliate in Colombia, was pioneering the country’s path through successful demographic transition. My father, the youngest child of a family of nine, and my mother, the oldest of seven, never went to college. Instead, they worked through their teen years, struggling to help their families.

My mother (influenced by distant women relatives who were educated) had made up her mind to give her children the education she never had. She convinced my father (in spite of the macho, progenitive culture) that the only way to pursue their dreams was to secure a way out of poverty through hard work—and a small family. Sure enough, I, their oldest child, was the first one in the 70-plus extended family to graduate from college and medical school. My two sisters continue to benefit from the education they received.

{Photo credit: MSH}Photo credit: MSH

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) joined African civil society organizations (CSOs) at a side event  on July 2 of the Abuja +12 meeting of African heads of governments. The groups agreed that universal health coverage should be included in the post-2015 development agenda.

In April 2001, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union signed the Abuja Declaration after undertaking a critical review of the rapid spread of HIV and AIDS on the continent. The Declaration cited practical strategies to deal with the menace. It also urged governments of member states to increase funding for health to at least 15% of the national budget. 

The Nigerian government and the African Union (AU) will co-host the Abuja +12 Special Summit of the AU Heads of government from July 15 to July 19 to review the 2001 Abuja declaration. The Summit intends to focus on the unfinished work of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. It will serve as an avenue to review the progress made on the implementation of the Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Communicable Diseases. It will also propose a framework for post-2015 development agenda for Africa. 

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) welcomes the report of the United Nations High Level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The HLP’s advisory report, released May 30, is part of an ongoing process of defining the global targets that will replace the Millennium Development Goals. MSH believes the report demonstrates the panel’s ongoing commitment to health as an essential component of sustainable development and improving lives around the world.

The panel named five specific health targets focusing on infant and child health, immunization, maternal mortality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and high-burden communicable and chronic diseases. While the panel recognized that universal access to basic health services will be necessary to achieve these goals, it did not recommend an explicit target for increasing healthcare access or coverage.

{Photo credit: MSH/Carmen Urdaneta}Photo credit: MSH/Carmen Urdaneta

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has been awarded the contract for “Technical Assistance in Service Delivery and Management Capacity Building for the Salud Mesoamérica 2015 Initiative Countries,” a $9.3 million, 18-month award by the Inter-American Development Bank. The goal of the Salud Mesoamérica 2015 Initiative (“salud” is Spanish for health) is to reduce health equity gaps in eight countries in the Mesoamérica region.

Under the Salud Mesoamérica 2015 Initiative, MSH will provide ongoing technical assistance in seven of the eight countries to improve the quality of, access to, and use of health services at the primary and secondary levels of care for the poorest 20% of the population. The countries are: Chiapas-Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. MSH’s technical assistance will focus on expanding essential obstetric and neonatal care, newborn and child health, family planning services, assuring quality in those services, monitoring and use of health information system data for decision-making, and results-based financing models.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

Reforming a health system in pursuit of universal health coverage (UHC) has the potential to transform health and save lives, but it carries enormous challenges for the leaders committed to this vision. From revenue collection to enforcement of quality standards, every aspect of the system must come together to make UHC successful and sustainable.

With over 100 countries working their way toward UHC--and UHC a prime consideration in post-2015 sustainable development conversations--MSH is devoting this issue of the Global Health Impact newsletter (subscribe) to one of the essential elements of successful UHC: access to medicines.

A NOTE FROM DR. JONATHAN QUICK

Post-2015: Sustainable Health Development Requires UHC: Dr. Quick on Devex

{Photo credit: MSH}Photo credit: MSH

This post originally appeared on Devex.com.

The Afghan health system was in shambles after the Taliban government was chased from power in December 2001. Immunization rates had fallen below 20 percent and nine out of ten women were on their own for labor and delivery. Suhaila Seddiqi, newly appointed as public health minister, could have begun her tenure with highly visible and politically popular moves like building hospitals in the major cities. She didn’t. Instead, she led the development of a basic package of essential primary care services and coordinated its delivery to Afghans throughout the country, including remote rural areas. It worked. By 2010, twice as many Afghans had access to family planning, maternal deaths were down by two thirds, and reductions in child mortality had saved 150,000 lives.

 {Photo credit: MSH/Filmona Hailemichael}Dr. Florence Guillaume, Minister of Health of Haiti.Photo credit: MSH/Filmona Hailemichael

On June 7, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and partners hosted Dr. Florence Guillaume, the Minister of Health of Haiti, and panelists for a Capitol Hill luncheon on community health workers in fragile states. The day before, MSH hosted Guillaume in Cambridge, MA, for a town-hall style event on improving maternal and child health. Revisit the two events through a "Storify" story of photos, text, and tweets.

Pages

Printer Friendly Version
Subscribe to RSS - Women & Gender