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{Photo credit: MSH}Photo credit: MSH

This year, the theme of International Day of Persons with Disabilities is Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities. Far too often, people with disabilities face barriers to inclusion, and are not able to access transportation, employment, education, and other aspects of society.

In a world with a considerable unmet need for appropriate wheelchairs, enormous access challenges for those who do have a wheelchair, a glut of well-intentioned donations of inappropriate wheelchairs languishing in backrooms and landfills, where do you begin to help people who need wheelchairs? Over the last seven years, the World Health Organization (WHO)—with generous support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID)—has established guidelines for appropriate wheelchair provision, developed curricula for wheelchair professionals, and brought together a cadre of passionate supporters for appropriate wheelchair service provision in low resource settings. Training materials are now available, some in many languages including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Romanian, Khmer, Thai, and Chinese.

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

This week, at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health (hashtag ), the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded and Management Sciences for Health (MSH)-led, Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program is launching a new tool to improve how the safety and effectiveness of medicines is monitored in low- and middle-income countries.

All medicines undergo rigorous clinical testing prior to being made publicly available. Continuing to monitor the safety and effectiveness of medicines in real world settings, also referred to as pharmacovigilance, is critically important to ensure that medicines can be used over a prolonged period of time, in conjunction with other medicines, among new patient populations, and in patients with multiple illnesses. 

Low- and middle-income countries, however, often lack the resources, capacity, and systems required to effectively implement pharmacovigilance activities. They often rely heavily on passive reporting methods which can underestimate potential medicines use issues.

 {Photo credit: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH.}Rose Chebet (right) with her twins, her husband, and the linkage facilitator Helen Chelengat (middle).Photo credit: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH.

When you get sick, where do you go for health care?

You probably have lots of options — a local hospital, clinic, or even a neighborhood pharmacy. But for women like Rose Chebet, who lives in eastern Uganda, it's not so simple.

When she was about four months pregnant with twins, Rose went to a nearby hospital for a prenatal visit, and there she learned she was HIV-positive. She was terrified that her babies would die, or that they would be born HIV-positive. Fortunately, the hospital she visited participates in a MSH-run program that referred Rose to a clinic, where she received anti-retroviral medication that kept her healthy and prevented HIV transmission to her babies. The program also provides follow up care to ensure Rose keeps her medical appointments and takes her medicine.

Thanks to this early intervention, her babies were safely delivered and remain free of HIV.

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 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Antibiotics on the shelves of a pharmacy in Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera

Picture a scenario where infections become totally untreatable because none of the available antimicrobial agents work. This is not imaginary, but is likely to happen very soon if we don’t act urgently, intensely, and consistently to tackle the rising tide of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

This week, the global health and development community is commemorating the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise global awareness on the magnitude, reach, and severity of antibiotic resistance; the event comes at a time when resistance to many antimicrobials, not just antibiotics, has now escalated to pandemic proportions and is a serious global health risk that requires urgent attention. In fact, the WHO has labeled AMR one of the biggest global public health threats.

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

Despite improvements in child survival in recent decades, children in low- and middle-income countries still suffer from illnesses virtually nonexistent in the industrial world.

Pneumonia is the deadliest of these, responsible for the death of 900,000 children under five worldwide in 2013—more than any other infectious disease.

And more children are killed by pneumonia in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) than in any other country except for India and Nigeria. Every year, approximately 148,000 children under five die of pneumonia, accounting for 15 percent of child deaths in the country.

No More Epidemics Campaign launching November 12, 2015.

Join us online for the global launch of the No More Epidemics campaign, November 12, 2015, 11:00 am - 1:30 pm SAST (4:00 am – 6:30 am ET) from the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Visit NoMoreEpidemics.org to watch the Live Stream

Follow on Twitter at .

No More Epidemics® is an international campaign to prevent future epidemics of emerging infectious disease. No single player can solve this problem alone. The campaign addresses this urgent challenge by bringing together nongovernmental organizations, top experts in health systems and humanitarian relief, community organizations, academic institutions, epidemiologists, scientists, and the most innovative companies and philanthropies in collaboration with national governments and international agencies, to influence governments and multilateral institutions to increase their epidemic prevention and preparedness capabilities.

{Photo credit: Olumade Badejo/MSH}Photo credit: Olumade Badejo/MSH

Update, 1/11/16: Join MSH at the International Family Planning Conference, January 25-28, 2016, in Indonesia. Get ICFP2016 details here.

Original post continues:

This blog post is a web-formatted version of the Global Health Impact newsletter: Family Planning: The Win-Win-Win for Health (November 2015). (View or share the email version here.) We welcome your feedback and questions in the comments. On social media, use hashtag and tag .  Subscribe

 {Photo credit: Rui Pires}This Accredited Drug Shop (ADS) in Kibaale district, Uganda, is one of nearly 1,500 small private vendors supported by MSH that provide rural access to family planning commodities, counseling, and referrals.Photo credit: Rui Pires

This week, conference organizers announced that the anticipated 2015 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Nusa Dua, Indonesia would be postponed due to a volcanic ash cloud limiting air travel and presenting health concerns. We stand in solidarity with all those in the region. Although the conference is postponed, the family planning conversation must go on.

Earlier this fall, the 193 member states at the 70th United Nations General Assembly ratified and launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Now, stakeholders are determining together how to achieve the 17 goals and 169 targets.  Management Sciences for Health (MSH) works primarily toward Goal 3: to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages and related targets by 2030.

{Photo credit: Rui Pires/Uganda}Photo credit: Rui Pires/Uganda

[HIP Brief: Leaders and Managers: Making Family Planning Programs Work]HIP Brief: Leaders and Managers: Making Family Planning Programs WorkFor years, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and partners have championed and advocated that leadership and management be recognized as a high-impact practice (HIP) for family planning. Proven, promising, and emerging practices in family planning are codified in HIP briefs, publications developed by collaborating partners, with support from the US government, and rigorously reviewed by experts in family planning practice.

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