Afghanistan

{Photo credit: MSH staff, Afghanistan}Photo credit: MSH staff, Afghanistan

In 2013 diarrhea killed 578,000 children under the age of five, 9 percent of all deaths in this age group globally. The tragedy of these deaths is that they are avoidable at many levels. The risk of contracting diarrhea can be drastically decreased through basic hygiene measures, such as consistent and exclusive use of a latrine and washing one’s hands with soap. Once a child becomes ill with diarrhea, most cases can be managed with oral rehydration salts and zinc. But the gap between what is known in the public health community regarding prevention and treatment of diarrhea, and what is practiced in many settings, is wide and deadly.

In Afghanistan, diarrhea killed 13,000 children under the age of five in 2013 and was the third most frequent cause of mortality (after neonatal conditions and pneumonia) in the age group. Many organizations, including Management Sciences for Health (MSH), have worked to improve access to treatment for children with diarrhea, but less attention has been paid to prevention.

{Photo credit: MSH}Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez of USAID.Photo credit: MSH

This blog post, cross-posted with permission from The Leadership, Managment, and Governance (LMG) project blog on LMGforHealth.org, is part of our Global Health Impact series on the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, May 18-24, 2014. MSH is co-hosting three side events focusing on the role of universal health coverage (May 20), chronic diseases (May 20), and governance for health (May 21) in the post-2015 framework. This year, six MSH representatives are attending WHA as part of the 60-plus-person Global Health Council (GHC) delegation.

We have been investing substantially in the health sector. But have we been getting optimal benefits for our investments? No!

We could get more benefits if we have better governance.

~ Uganda's Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, at Wednesday's side event at the 67th World Health Assembly

 {Photo courtesy of Erik Törner/Individuell Människohjälp.}Health clinic in Kathmandu, Nepal.Photo courtesy of Erik Törner/Individuell Människohjälp.

Cross-posted with permission from The Wilson Center’s NewSecurityBeat.org.

The global maternal health agenda has been largely defined by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the last decade and half, but what will happen after they expire in 2015? What kind of framework is needed to continue the momentum towards eliminating preventable maternal deaths and morbidities? [Video Below]

For a panel of experts gathered at the Wilson Center on February 20, universal health coverage is a powerful mechanism that may be crucial to finishing the job.

 {Photo credit: Sylvia Vriesendorp/MSH.}Dr. Barakzai and colleague share a laugh.Photo credit: Sylvia Vriesendorp/MSH.

This post originally appeared on the LMGforHealth.org blog.

She asked me, "How do you get confidence? I had it and then lost it. I want it back!"

For more than a decade I have been in close contact with Afghan women who, if they were put together to form a government, would change the course of history in their country. Some are older and have proven to be extraordinary leaders—the kind of people who are needed to create the conditions for peace. Others are young and full of energy to turn things around as they watch the international and local debates about Afghanistan's future. And some are in the middle; they are developing their leadership skills in their immediate surroundings, practicing, falling down, brushing themselves off, and trying again.

The question from my young colleague resonated with me because the issue of confidence had come up several times during my recent stay in Kabul—how easy it is to get it and how easily it is lost.

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

This post originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) Blog as part of a series celebrating the one-year anniversary of The Lancet publishing “A Manifesto for Maternal Health post-2015,” co-authored by Ana Langer, Richard Horton, and Guerino Chalamilla.

In celebration of the one-year anniversary of the Manifesto for Maternal Health, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) congratulates our global community, including ministries of health, their partners, and the women we serve and work with, on the progress made toward creating a healthier world for mothers and their babies.

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

Azmara Ashenafi, a 35-year-old woman from the Amhara region of Ethiopia, was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and placed on treatment. She was fortunate. Many people with TB are missed by health systems altogether. But Azmara’a treatment wasn’t helping. Despite taking medicine for months, her symptoms persisted and became more severe.

In many places, her story would have a sad ending—TB is one of the top three leading causes of death for women 15 to 44 in low- and middle-income countries.

But Azmara went to the Muja Health Center—one of over 1,600 supported by USAID's Help Ethiopia Address Low TB Performance (HEAL TB) program, and where MSH has been training health workers to screen patients for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

MDR-TB cannot be treated with the two most potent first line anti-TB drugs and infects 6,000 Ethiopians each year. To help curb the spread of the disease, health workers learn how to screen people in close contact with MDR-TB patients. All of Azmara’s family members were tested and both she and her three year old son Feseha were found to have MDR-TB.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff.}Dr. Jamie Tonsing, TB CARE I Project Director, preparing to release of balloons with the TB health education messages during 2013 WTD celebrations in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.Photo credit: MSH staff.

MSH staff are commemorating World TB Day through awareness-raising activities around the globe, including in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, and Nigeria. Here are photos (some from 2013) with activities this year.

Afghanistan - TB CARE I

During this year’s World Tuberculosis Day (WTD) celebration in Afghanistan, MSH’s TB CARE I project team will reach more than 21,000 individuals with tuberculosis (TB) advocacy and awareness activities. The project staff plans to distribute over 8,530 banners, notebooks, and posters on TB control to politicians, health workers, and community members. Additionally, the TB CARE I Afghanistan team will travel to the 13 project-supported provinces to help field-based staff plan and facilitate WTD celebrations at health centers in their communities. The project staff will also support staff from the National TB Program (NTP) and other stakeholders in planning and participating in WTD celebrations at 26 schools and 600 and communities.

 {Photo credit: Jennifer Acio/MSH.}Last year, a group of community members queued up to register for different services at Budaka Health Center IV on International Women's Day 2013.Photo credit: Jennifer Acio/MSH.

MSH staff and projects participated in International Women's Day celebrations in dozens of countries around the world. We share some of our stories with photos and excerpts from South Africa, Uganda, and Afghanistan.

Uganda Celebrates

STRIDES for Family Health joined the Ugandan government to commemorate International Women's Day in Kumi district. This year’s theme was “In partnership with men and boys for empowerment of women and girls in Uganda.” STRIDES supported village health teams’ participation in the celebration and distributed TOMS shoes before the event to motivate mothers to access services at health facilities.

[Women leaders access health information provided by STRIDES during the International Women's Day event in Kayunga district.] {Photo credit: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH}Women leaders access health information provided by STRIDES during the International Women's Day event in Kayunga district.Photo credit: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH

 

International Women’s Day, March 8, signifies more than a single day can encompass. At MSH, International Women’s Day is a day for celebrating women health leaders who inspire change and an opportunity to recommit ourselves to another year of action toward gender equity.

We celebrate International Women’s Day with Drs. Suraya Dalil and Florence Guillaume, Ministers of Health from Afghanistan and Haiti.

Watch their video message to women around the world:

We pay homage to the women who have come before us; we stand on their shoulders. We acknowledge their courage, sacrifice, and commitment, allowing women today to dream of a future with more possibilities for next generations of women and girls.

{Photo credit: Rui Pires.}Photo credit: Rui Pires.

We do a lot of things in the name of culture. From our hair to our food to our ceremonies, culture informs our identity, our very understanding of who we are, and how we fit into this world.

In countries where female genital cutting is widely practiced, “culture/tradition/religion” feature prominently among the reasons why the practice began, and why it is perpetuated. In fact, there is no religious reason for this practice, also known as female genital mutilation, FGM, or FGM/C. Yet, those who support the continuation of FGM/C often invoke the name of their culture, or tradition, or religion as dictating their actions.

Culture viewed from this perspective is oppressive—denigrated into a static phenomenon, unchanging, and uninformed by new knowledge. It is only when we accept culture as a dynamic force–one which is ever changing and evolving–that we proudly can identify with, and derive our identities from it.

Culture can be a powerful positive force in our lives if we dare to challenge it.

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