March 2018

{Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina}Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Poliomyelitis, or polio, was a greatly feared scourge of the industrial world. It would paralyze hundreds of thousands of children every year. Once effective vaccines were introduced in the 1950s the number of cases of polio dropped dramatically and the virus was eliminated in many countries, but in some places, it still remains a real threat.

Polio is an infectious viral disease that is transmitted from person to person and can lead to paralysis, respiratory failure, even death. The polio virus easily spreads in areas with poor sanitation. Vaccination is the most reliable way to prevent polio and to protect children under five, who are the most vulnerable.

The virus was wiped out in Madagascar 2005 but reappeared in 2014. Since then, Madagascar’s government and health partners, including the World Health Organization, United Nations Children's Fund, and the United States Agency for International Development, have held multiple vaccination campaigns across the country.

After more than 15 years working on women’s health and development issues, I feel hopeful as the growing movement for women’s rights brings us closer to a breakthrough. Everyday, more women around the world -- from Madagascar to Mexico -- are emerging as leaders. They are organizing and demanding justice, equality, and the full realization of their fundamental human rights. In the halls of the United Nations, at the policymaking tables of country ministries, and in the local health clinics, women and girls are calling for health policies and services that meet their needs, and those of their families and communities.

On International Women’s Day, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) joins women worldwide to press for progress. Our work is grounded in the fundamental view that safeguarding women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health is a core health system function. It is time we listen to all women and girls, because they are the health system.  

Printer Friendly Version