Women & Gender

{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.

{Photo credit: kjetil_r via Flickr}Photo credit: kjetil_r via Flickr

In a landmark 6-2 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a 2003 law requiring organizations that receive US government funding for global health work on HIV & AIDS to have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution. The plaintiffs in the USAID v. AOSI case included the Global Health Council (GHC), Pathfinder, the Alliance for Open Society International (AOSI), and InterAction.

In a letter to GHC members, Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, chairman of the GHC board of directors and MSH president and CEO, said:

Did you notice that our website looks and feels really different?

We've redesigned and rebuilt our site from the ground up: showcasing our unique technical expertise and staff, values, global footprint, and mission to save lives and improve health among the poorest and most vulnerable around the world. 

We also have integrated our Global Health Impact blog into the website to continue cutting-edge discussions on global health.  

And we've made the new MSH.org easier to use.     

Learn more about the new MSH.org

Watch the short video -- and see some of the new features firsthand:

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