Women & Gender

Halida Akhter receiving the United Nations Population Award in 2006.

Bangladesh, which is situated in a resource poor setting with a population of over 150 million, faces the major health challenge of a high maternal mortality rate. In the 1970s, the maternal mortality rate was 700 deaths per 100,000, and now it is still at 320 per 100,000. Although Bangladesh has made progress in reducing its infant mortality, much progress needs to be made to reach the Millennium Development Goals for maternal mortality. Bangladesh will need more than five years to achieve the goals. The Global Health Initiative (GHI) will help address the major health challenges women face in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has successful models of collaboration and public-private partnerships to share with other countries.

There have been a collection of high-profile and well attended mobile health (mHealth) “summits” held around the world in the past few years, including last month’s second annual mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. (headlined by Bill Gates and Ted Turner), but the really interesting conversations are happening on the African continent. While large providers in the “developed world” are talking about the need for business plans and analysis, the debate in Kenya and Nigeria and Ghana is on how country-based leadership can scale up proven programs, develop sustainability, and provide practical and integrated models for cooperation between the government, mobile service providers, the medical community and the private sector.

Blog post also appeared on Global Health Magazine.

PEPFAR Fellow in the field

As the country with the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, outranked only by India, Nigeria loses one in every 18 women during child-birth. The country also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, one of the lowest life expectancy rates---estimated at 47 years---and the second largest population of people living with HIV & AIDS, with only 30% of people eligible for anti-retroviral treatment able to access these life-saving drugs.

A team of experts from WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and World Bank recently published a report on maternal mortality entitled “Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2008" (PDF).

The document reports some fantastic news about a public health indicator that has until recently refused to budge. That indicator is the maternal mortality ratio, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The improvement between 1990 and 2008 is significant and promising.

The part of the report that received much less coverage relates to HIV and its strong, adverse effect on maternal mortality. The authors estimate that in 2008 there were 42,000 deaths due to HIV & AIDS among pregnant women and approximately half of those were maternal deaths. In absence of HIV we would have had 337,000 maternal deaths in 2008 instead of 358,000.

This blog was originally posted on Global Health Council’s Blog 4 Global Health. This is a guest blog written by Aaron Emmel, government affairs officer at PATH, one of the sponsors of the event.

Almost 80 people packed the Global Health Council’s conference room last week, with 63 more listening in online, to learn about new initiatives to strengthen maternal, newborn, and child health by improving nutrition. The briefing was held in conjunction with World Food Day on Oct. 16.

Officials from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) described the intersecting nutrition goals of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future and Global Health Initiatives, while representatives of two global health organizations spoke about how new approaches to reducing malnutrition and under-nutrition are being carried out on the ground.

Blog post originally appeared on Global Health Magazine.

Six years ago the Malawi health system was on the verge of collapse due to severe shortages of health workers. Every year the College of Medicine would train 20 doctors and every year, half of them would leave the country. Nurses were overwhelmed by the demand for services.

Originally appeared in Global Health Magazine.

Over the last several decades, millions of dollars have been invested in capacity building interventions, and the chorus of capacity building enthusiasts continues to grow. Yet, both in description and practice, capacity building remains somewhat fuzzy. In many developing countries, one of the greatest obstacles to achieving the health MDGs - in particular those relating to child survival, maternal health, and combating major diseases such as HIV & AIDS - is the deep, persistent lack of organizational capacity among those responsible for attaining these goals.

Some of the essential capacity components that are often lacking include human capacity - adequate numbers of skilled, motivated and well distributed health providers who are supported by strong leadership; financial capacity - money management skills, financial accountability, and costing expertise; systems capacity - information and logistics, monitoring and evaluation, and governance structures and processes.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

As world leaders gather next week at the U.N. to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate poverty, hunger, and disease by 2015, a new integrated approach to funding and delivering health services in developing countries is critical if the UN's global health targets -- especially for women and children -- are to be met. Currently, the health goals are competing with each other for money, people, and other scarce resources. How can we get back on track?

There is much to celebrate next week: over four million people are currently receiving antiretroviral drugs to treat AIDS; eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV is within reach by 2015; malaria deaths have been reduced by over half in some countries; the global burden of TB is falling; and more than 500 million people are now treated for one or more neglected tropical diseases.

On Friday, September 17th, Washingtonians representing UN offices, various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governmental organizations, and general civil society gathered in Farragut Square, Washington, D.C. from 12 to 1:30 PM to “Stand Up Against Poverty.” Joining millions of global citizens in Stand Up Against Poverty events in 1,328 registered events in 74 countries, we voiced our commitment to fight poverty and inequality, demanding urgent and concrete action on the Millennium Development Goals from our world leaders as they attend the 2010 United Nations MDG Summit from Monday, September 20th through Wednesday, September 22nd.

The event was emceed by Sarah Farnsworth, Senior Advisor for the North America Campaign, and welcomed by Fred Tipson, Director of the UNDP Washington office.  Like others around the world, Washingtonians energetically clacked noisemakers, blew whistles, cheered, and recited the Stand Up pledge that was read by Will Davis, Director of the UN Information Center, Washington DC, and Greg Smiley, Senior Policy Officer of UNAIDS, and accompanied by drummers from the Rhythm Workers Union.  Personal testimonies were given by individuals from UN offices, Save the Children, Jubilee USA, and InterAction on why they Stand Up Against Poverty.

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