MDGs

The Global Health Initiative (GHI) and its approach of integrating health programs with HIV & AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal, newborn, and child health, nutrition, and family planning and reproductive health is in line with the current approaches and health priorities of the Government of Malawi.

Malawi, with a population of slightly over 13 million people, has 83% of its people living in the rural hard to reach, underserved areas. The biggest health challenge facing the country is access to basic health services by the rural population. The problem of access to health services is multifaceted. For instance, family planning services are mostly facility-based, contributing to a low Contraceptive Prevalence Rate of 28% and high unmet family planning need of 28% (Malawi Demographic and Health Survey, 2004).

However, there is also a critical shortage of trained health service providers and availability of contraceptives is a logistical nightmare in Malawi. Making a routine mix of all contraceptives accessible to women of reproductive age regularly in rural communities can avert unwanted pregnancies and maternal deaths, and reduce high total fertility rate and infant mortality rate. Rural people walk long distances to seek health services, sometimes only to return without a service due to shortage of health personnel and stock-out of supplies.

At the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Montreux, Switzerland in November, Dr. Yogesh Rajkotia, of USAID Rwanda, moderated a panel discussion noting that Performance-Based Financing (PBF) is an effective health systems strengthening strategy. The presentations were made on behalf of the Rwandan Ministry of Health with the guidance of Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Permanent Secretary.

In 2000, Rwanda’s health system was perceived as weak: there were human resources shortages, especially in rural areas; poor quality of services; and a high morbidity/mortality rate of women and children. Since 2001, Rwanda has committed itself to better health and to pushing for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015.

PBF is a powerful means for increasing the quantity and quality of health services by providing incentives to health providers to improve performance. A PBF program typically includes performance-based grants or contracts. Health clinics and their staff are rewarded for reaching or exceeding health indicators.

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.

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.

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.

This blog was originally posted on Global Health Council’s Blog 4 Global Health. This is a guest blog written by Arianna Levitus, policy and advocacy associate with PATH, one of the sponsors of the event.

“This is a pivotal month, in a pivotal year, when the world will take stock of promises made to women and children,” Sallie Craig Huber, global lead for results management at Management Sciences for Health (MSH), announced today to a standing room-only crowd at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Ms. Huber was introducing a panel of speakers to address the challenging topic of improving monitoring, transparency and accountability for maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH). The three panelists who followed Ms. Huber demonstrated the need to improve the way we monitor and evaluate programs for maternal and child health to capture and use data that can inform meaningful and effective program design and policy change.

One of the most striking admissions I heard during the Women Deliver 2010 conference in Washington DC (June 7-9) was that the major challenge facing maternal health improvement is a lack of political will. Kathleen Sebelius, the US Secretary for Health and Human Services, suggested that the problem with improving maternal mortality lay not with the lack of knowledge or interventions, but the political will to put that knowledge to action, the will to make maternal mortality a priority of governments, the will to stand up and say that the lives of women matter, and we MUST do something about it.

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