Maternal, Newborn, & Child Health: Our Impact

{Photo credit: C. Tran Ngoc/MSH.}Photo credit: C. Tran Ngoc/MSH.

Before RapidSMS, a cell phone-based technology designed to support maternal and child health at the community level, was in place people in remote areas of Rwanda couldn’t access health care easily. Extremely ill patients were brought to facilities using hand-carried stretchers.

As the international community gathered for the XIX International AIDS Conference last week, HIV & AIDS experts and key organizations voiced their support for a new approach to preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV: Option B+. Option B+ calls for antiretroviral therapy (ART) for life for all HIV-positive pregnant women, regardless of CD4 levels.The government of Malawi, with the support of MSH, adapted the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on preventing mother-to-child transmission, to the needs of Malawi.

The millions of children orphaned and made vulnerable by the AIDS pandemic face particular challenges, including loss of their primary care givers, increasing poverty and a greater risk of dropping out of school. When the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was launched nearly 10 years ago, interventions were put in place to address the specific needs of orphans and vulnerable children. Over the past decade, research regarding the effectiveness of these strategies has identified successful program interventions and potentially fruitful new directions.

Community pastor in Mvolo County. {Photo credit: E. Polich/MSH.}Photo credit: E. Polich/MSH.

In South Sudan, HIV prevalence hovers at an estimated 3%,[1] which is significantly lower than neighboring countries like Kenya (6.3%), Uganda (6.5%), and the Central African Republic (4.7%).[2, 3] Despite this lower prevalence, the world’s newest country teeters on a precipice where HIV is concerned.

Health care staff at Gurei Primary Health Care Center provide patients with drugs after attending their first Leadership Development Program (LDP) session. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Two years ago, the Gurei Primary Health Care Center (PHCC) in Juba, South Sudan was facing a number of operational challenges. In addition to needing a cold storage area for vaccinations, PHCC also had an insufficient number of trained vaccinators and morale was low among the available staff. Within the community they served, PHCC encountered many negative attitudes and incorrect ideas about vaccinations. Residents who brought their children to PHCC for care found that the needed vaccinations were only sporadically available. As a result, the number of children immunized in Juba remained low.

Since 1990, annual maternal deaths have declined by almost one half and the deaths of young children have declined from 12 million to 7.6 million in 2010.Some of the world's poorest countries have achieved spectacular progress in reducing child deaths. Rates of child mortality in many African countries have been dropping twice as fast in recent years as during the 1990s.

Global Health and Diplomacy, Women Deliver, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Management Sciences for Health (MSH) will be hosting a roundtable on maternal and child health issues prior to the Child Health Summit to highlight the importance of addressing MDGs 4 and 5 in a comprehensive and integrated manner.Speakers includeGoli Ameri, Undersecretary General, Humanitarian Values and Diplomacy (IFRC)Dr.

Medicines and supplies that can prevent and treat leading causes of maternal and child morbidity and mortality are widely known, yet millions of pregnant women and newborns cannot access these medicines and supplies when they need them most.USAID’s Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), presented on systems for improving drug management at this year’s Asia Regional Meeting on Interventions for Impact in Essential Obstetric and Newborn Care.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) announced today that it has joined Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage. Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of over 100 organizations working to end child marriage all over the world. The partnership will amplify the voices of girls at risk of child marriage and will support girls who are or have been married, all over the world.

Celebrating Independence Day in South Sudan. {Photo credit: Erin Polich/MSH.}Photo credit: Erin Polich/MSH.

South Sudan is strengthening their health system, despite the challenges of being the newest country in the world.The World Health Organization (WHO) says that, “A health system consists of all the organizations, institutions, resources and people whose primary purpose is to improve health.” In South Sudan, MSH leads the USAID-funded Sudan Health Transformation Project, phase two (SHTP II), which works with the national Ministry of Health, county health departments, local organizations, and communities to transition the primary health care system from relief to development.SHTP II

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