March 2011

Afghanistan’s mountain ranges are beautiful to the eye. Rugged peaks and ridges are separated by valleys, carved out over the centuries by streams and rivers supporting the green web of vegetation along their banks.

But many of the small villages that cling to the walls of these valleys are often cut off for months by heavy snow or the floods that follow the spring melt. The cold wet climate, together with smoke from household stoves, increases the risk of pneumonia, particularly among babies and children. One in five deaths of young Afghan children is caused by pneumonia, an infection easily treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early enough.

Last week, the House of Representatives cut the international affairs budget by 20% of the FY 2010 levels. While these are tough times, these cuts are disappointing given investments made in international affairs account for only 1 percent of the overall US Government budget.  More plainly, these cuts affect the poorest and most vulnerable people around the globe.

A recent poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org/Knowledge Networks showed that most Americans support foreign assistance levels up to 10% of the budget.

Furthermore, such small cuts in spending will not solve the deficit problem. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has argued that investments made in development and diplomacy can help deter future needs for resources for defense and that America’s national security depends on the civilian diplomats and aid workers who also risk their lives every day to support our overseas interests.

Simi Grewal is the Program Coordinator for Health Systems Strengthening and Results Management at MSH. She worked as a fellow in Egypt from January 16-February 5.

For 40 years, MSH has promoted equal access to health care for women by strengthening health systems and building the capacity of women as leaders and managers, technical experts, clinicians, and community health workers. Management Sciences for Health celebrates International Women's Day, March 8, 2011. Meet the women who inspire us.

Dr. Belkis Giorgis, MSH's Gender Expert 

One hundred years ago on March 8, a handful of countries celebrated the first International Women’s Day. Today it is celebrated around the world as an opportunity to look back on women’s accomplishments and look forward to the realization of their full economic, political, and social rights. The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2011 is centered on women’s access to education, technology, and decent work.

For 40 years, MSH has promoted equal access to health care for women by strengthening health systems and building the capacity of women as leaders and managers, technical experts, clinicians, and community health workers. We interviewed Dr. Belkis Giorgis, our NGO Capacity Building/Gender Advisor in Ethiopia about women and development.

Why is International Women’s Day important?

 

[Dr. Karima, General Directorate of Pharmaceutical Affairs, Ministry of Public Health, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Drug and Therapeutics Committee training course for provincial hospitals]Dr. Karima, General Directorate of Pharmaceutical Affairs, Ministry of Public Health, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Drug and Therapeutics Committee training course for provincial hospitals

 

 

The First Lady Michelle Obama said “Courage is Contagious” as she and Secretary Clinton honored women from around the world at the 2011 International Women of Courage Awards. This year’s event was notable because it was held on the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day.

From speaking out against "so called honor crimes" to fighting for the rights of minority people, these diverse women from Afghanistan, Belarus, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Hungary, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, and Pakistan share a special quality: courage. They are making changes in their own countries to improve the lives of women and girls. Ms. Maria Bashir from Afghanistan risks her life daily to ensure that girls can live free from violence as the Prosecutor General of the Attorney General’s Office in Herate Province. She fights against gender norms, putting her own life at risk, by jailing abusive husbands. Her counterpart in Mexico, Ms. Marisela Morales Ibanez, is fighting dangerous criminals who traffic humans and corrupt the judicial system in Mexico.

Aberu Hailu and her HIV-Negative son.

 

Aberu Hailu is a 31 year old, mother of four living in Hidmo, Ethiopia a rural community 8 kilometers south east of Adigodum town in Tigray. Two years ago, she visited the Adigodum Health Center to be tested for HIV, a disease she had learned about through community health education. She discovered she was HIV-positive and informed her husband that he should be tested, but he refused.

Two months later, Aberu became pregnant and found herself in despair. She thought she would pass the virus on to her baby and she feared the stigma and discrimination she knew often came with a positive HIV status.

Aberu returned to the Adigodum Health Center and the HIV/AIDS Care and Support Program (HCSP), a USAID-funded MSH-led health project, for help. Aberu learned that her baby could be protected from the virus with prevention of mother to child transmission services.

Every day people are dying in the developing world because they cannot access affordable, quality medicines. Modern pharmaceuticals have revolutionized health care, but weak health systems prevent many people from accessing basic life-saving medicines. The health of men, women, and children can be dramatically improved throughout the world by enhancing access to and improving the use of essential medicines and other health care technologies.

Gaps in the management and availability of essential medicines and health commodities have been a constant weakness for developing countries. These gaps hamper the ability to access and distribute the pharmaceutical and medical supplies needed to treat infectious diseases. We have seen particular success in addressing pharmaceutical management challenges when interventions include: increasing access to products and services, improving the use of those products and services, promoting rational pharmaceutical use, developing public-private partnerships, providing thorough assessments and trainings, and improving procurement processes.

I recently visited Haiti and had the opportunity to meet with some local Haitian non-governmental organizations supported by MSH’s Santé pour le Développement et la Stabilité d’Haíïti (SDSH) project, as well as the central Ministry of Health, and departmental Ministry of Health offices. I was searching for information in an effort to learn more about how Performance-Based Financing (PBF) has affected service delivery in Haiti. The SDSH-supported facilities produce monthly service utilization reports that capture the important information, but I’ve been working to obtain comparable information on other facilities. My first thought was the Health Information System (HIS) Unit at the Ministry of Health (MoH).

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