August 2015

 {Photo credit: Matthieu Koy Matili/MSH}Elene O. and her baby, Omedji village, Benadibele health zone.Photo credit: Matthieu Koy Matili/MSH

Breastfeeding is a human right, and critical for the health of both newborn and mother. Newborns benefit from early skin-to-skin contact and the antibodies in the mother’s first milk, plus factors that protect against later obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. Mothers benefit because early breastfeeding assists in uterine shrinkage and helps prevent postpartum bleeding. In addition, frequent, exclusive, breastfeeding reduces the likelihood of an immediate new pregnancy.

Optimal breastfeeding is most advantageous when started within an hour of birth and continued exclusively for six months; research shows that it could save 800,00 children’s lives. Yet, globally, only 38 percent of infants are breastfed exclusively.

World Breastfeeding Week 2015 (August 1-7) focuses on supporting women breastfeeding at the workplace (“Let’s make it work”).

For many women, especially in the developing world, barriers to breastfeeding start in the home or even the health facility -- before returning to work in her household, community, or workplace.

{Photo: Glenn Ruga}Photo: Glenn Ruga

Are you interested in youth leadership for family planning and reproductive health?

Join the Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project () for the launch of the Twitter Q&A Series on Thursday, August 6, 2015, at 10 am ET.

MSH staffer Sarah Lindsay () will be answering questions about the importance of youth leadership development; the roles youth leaders play; and the LMG Project's support for young leaders improving family planning and reproductive health in their communities.

Not on Twitter? No problem! On Thursday, we'll also answer questions on the LMG Project's Facebook page, and create a digital recap after the Q&A wraps up.

Wednesday, August 12, is International Youth Day; the date designated by the United Nations to recognize the influence young people have on society and to raise awareness of youth issues. Currently, there are over 1.8 billion young people in the world that are not only patients, clients, and beneficiaries, but providers and leaders who can contribute to a healthier future for all.

{Photo credit: MSH staff}Photo credit: MSH staff

The teenage years. Changes seem to happen overnight. Puberty. Your first crush. Fighting with a parent. Discovering your identity, your purpose, and your role in the community. A confusing and challenging, yet rewarding, coming of age... an emerging adult.

Half the world’s population is under 30 years old. About 1.8 billion people, the largest generation of youth in history, are between the ages of 10 and 24. In most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, people ages 15 to 29 will continue to comprise about half of the population for the next four decades. How does this unprecedented proportion of young people impact public health, and a community and country’s sustainable development?

Sustainable health outcomes will depend on how we engage and empower our youth.

 {Photo Credit: Joan Marshall-Missiye/MSH}A break-out session at the first ECOWAS Forum on Good Practices in Health, held July 29-31 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.Photo Credit: Joan Marshall-Missiye/MSH

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

This ubiquitous African proverb became the unofficial motto of the first ECOWAS Forum on Good Practices in Health, held July 29-31 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. More than 300 health professionals, researchers, donors, implementing partners, and stakeholders gathered at the conference, hosted by the West African Health Organization (WAHO), a partner of Management Sciences for Health.

In his opening speech, USAID West Africa Regional Mission Director Alex Deprez reminded the assembly that most maternal and child health indicators in West Africa are “unflattering.” The average fertility rate remains the highest in the world at 5.7, while the contraceptive prevalence rate, at 10 percent, is the lowest. West Africa loses thousands of mothers and young children daily to preventable complications and diseases. More than 100 children in West Africa die per 1,000 live births, and there are between 438 and 888 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

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