Women & Gender

 {Photo by the Spanish Cooperation (AECID)}An expert and advocate for persons with disabilities attends a strategy meeting to discuss the new WE DECIDE initiative.Photo by the Spanish Cooperation (AECID)

Violence against women, including forced or coerced sex, is an epidemic that persists all over the world. But women with disabilities, often marginalized and denied their sexual and reproductive health rights, are particularly vulnerable to such abuse.

In June, UNFPA launched WE DECIDE, a global initiative to promote gender equality and social inclusion of young persons with disabilities and advocate for the end of sexual violence.

The FCI Program of MSH worked with UNFPA and a broad range of partners in the field of disabilities to build consensus for the framework of the four-year initiative and to develop communications materials for the initiative, including a video and an infographic that conveys key messages and data on the status of persons with disabilities and gender-based violence.

Saving lives and improving health continues long after diagnosing disease or delivering medicines.

(Watch Faith tell her story)

Faith had been ill for months. She was 31 and had two daughters. She didn’t know what was wrong. A friend urged her to get an HIV test; it came back positive.

Faith started on antiretroviral treatment.

But, in 2013, one of her antiretroviral medicines started to work against her, causing misshapen fat deposits to develop on her body.

When she finally mustered the courage to speak up one year later, her doctor knew just what to do and shifted her to a different medicine.

(Medicine Movers: Kenya from Management Sciences for Health on Vimeo)

Faith didn’t know it, but her report to the doctor became part of a nationwide database that tracks adverse drug reactions, and poor quality or expired medicines.

{Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa}Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa

This post, first published on The Huffington Post, is part 5 in the MSH series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, children, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics. Join the conversation online with hashtag .

Struck with a prolonged and worsening illness, Faith, a 37-year-old Nairobi woman raising her two children, sought help from local clinics. She came away each time with no diagnosis and occasionally an absurdly useless packet of antihistamines. Finally, a friend urged her to get an HIV test. When it came back positive, Faith wanted to kill herself, and got hold of a poison.

All epidemics arise from weak health systems, like the one that failed to serve Faith. Where people are poor and health systems are under-resourced, diseases like AIDS, Yellow Fever, Ebola, TB, Zika, Malaria, steadily march the afflicted to an early grave, decimating families, communities and economies along the way.

{Photo: MSH staff/Tanzania}Photo: MSH staff/Tanzania

Invest in teenage girls. Change the world.

Sylvia, age 16, knew little about HIV & AIDS or reproductive health when she started primary school. Now, she says: “I am not scared by the pressure from boys and other girls to engage in early sex, I know my rights and am determined to fulfill my vision of completing my education.” Sylvia is one of 485 girls in 6 eastern Ugandan schools who received integrated sexual and reproductive health and HIV information.

Today, July 11, we commemorate World Population Day 2016 and the midpoint toward reaching the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) goal to ensure the right of 120 million additional women and girls to access contraception. More than half of the 7 billion people on earth are under the age of 30. Most of the FP2020 focus countries are in the very regions of the world where we find (a) the highest population of youth and (b) more marginalized and disenfranchised young people. In many of the world's poorest countries, people aged 15 to 29 will continue to comprise about half of the population for the next four decades.

 {Photo credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH}A mother waits for the nurse to vaccinate her baby during an immunization clinic at Phebe Hospital in central Liberia.Photo credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH

Stronger health systems are critical to preventing outbreaks from becoming epidemics. In fragile states, systems already weakened by conflict, disaster, or instability can crumble under the weight of an outbreak -- devastating access, availability, and quality of basic health for women and their families.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}Irene Koek of USAID’s Global Health Bureau gives closing remarks at the health security side event in Geneva.Photo credit: MSH staff

This is the second in a new series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, girls, families, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics (read Part 1). Join the conversation online with hashtag .

World Health Assembly and Beyond: Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda

Outbreaks are inevitable. Epidemics are preventable.

Last month, the No More Epidemics campaign convened a high-level, multi-sectoral panel on the Global Health Security Agenda during the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA69) in Geneva, Switzerland.

{Photos: Warren Zelman (left); Associated Press/Aurelie Marrier d’Unienvil (right)}Photos: Warren Zelman (left); Associated Press/Aurelie Marrier d’Unienvil (right)

This is the first in a new series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, girls, families, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics. Join the conversation online with hashtag .

Prioritizing prevention of regional epidemics and global pandemics

{Photo: Warren Zelman}Photo: Warren Zelman

Last month, MSH President & CEO, Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, urged G7 leaders (Huffington Post Impact) meeting in Ise-Shima, Japan, to prioritize pandemic prevention:

 {Photo: Joey O'Loughlin}Women Deliver attendees celebrate the launch of the FCI Program of MSHPhoto: Joey O'Loughlin

The FCI Program of MSH will maintain and strengthen the spirit and vision of FCI...
–Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH

MSH hosted a lively reception at the close of the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. More than 150 guests joined us to celebrate the recently-launched FCI Program of MSH, an advocacy and accountability program drawing upon the staff and projects of Family Care International (FCI). The work of the FCI Program of MSH builds on FCI’s 30-year history of effective advocacy for improved maternal, newborn, and adolescent health and for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women Deliver began in 2007 as a program of FCI, so this 4th and largest-ever Women Deliver conference was an especially appropriate place to honor FCI’s legacy and celebrate the FCI Program’s future within MSH.

 {Photo credit: Rebecca Weaver/MSH} bit.ly/msh_May2016Photo credit: Rebecca Weaver/MSH

MSH is a worldwide leader in strengthening health care financing systems toward universal health coverage (UHC). Stronger systems. Stronger women and children.

MSH has made tremendous impact on health care financing and UHC in the last two decades.

Performance-based financing

In 1999, MSH pioneered performance-based financing in Haiti, and has continued to adapt and improve upon it since. We contributed to and supported Rwanda to design, implement, and achieve UHC through community-based health insurance and performance-based financing; drastically reduce maternal and child mortality; and meet all of its health Millennium Development Goals.

In Democratic Republic of the Congo, we contributed to drastic reductions in child mortality and some of the greatest results-based financing outcomes in two decades.

Altogether, we've designed and/or implemented performance-based financing interventions in 14 countries across 3 continents (sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South-East Asia).

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

This post appears in its entirety on HuffPost Impact.

Pandemics are back on the agenda for the 2016 G7 Summit, which convenes this week in Ise-Shima, Japan. The Group of Seven is expected to further its commitments to global health security.

Look what has happened in less than one year since the G7 last met (June 2015), just after the Ebola crisis peaked at over 26,300 cases, 10,900 deaths.

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