Bangladesh

 {Photo credit: Pinky Patel}A photo from A Corridor of Contrasts.Photo credit: Pinky Patel

This week, African Strategies for Health (ASH)—a USAID-funded, MSH-led project that identifies public health best practices in sub-Saharan Africa and advocates for their adoption—has been attending the International Conference on Urban Health from May 24 through 27 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. At the conference, ASH has been sharing A Corridor of Contrasts, a report compiling photographs and stories of the people living along the West African Abidjan to Lagos transport corridor, which crosses Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

In partnership with USAID’s Africa Bureau and Bureau of Global Health, ASH sent me and a photographer, Pinky Patel, to West Africa this past January to document life along the Abidjan to Lagos transport corridor. We traveled the majority of the road through Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire, talking with and photographing people from all walks of life with the goal of learning how cities influence health. Our experience is documented in A Corridor of Contrasts.

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

Nearly three years ago, I blogged about a systems approach to improving access for a Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) series on maternal health commodities:

Increasing access to essential medicines and supplies for maternal health requires a systems approach that includes: improving governance of pharmaceutical systems, strengthening supply chain management, increasing the availability of information for decision-making, developing appropriate financing strategies and promoting rational use of medicines and supplies.

 {Photo credit: Emily Phillips/MSH Afghanistan}A postnatal woman with her newborn and mother-in-law.Photo credit: Emily Phillips/MSH Afghanistan

Last month I represented Management Sciences for Health (MSH) at Oxfam India’s South Asia Consultation on Maternal Health in Kathmandu, Nepal. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss significant maternal health programming experiences in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and to suggest strategic directions for Oxfam India’s future maternal health programming. More than 30 representatives from governments, national and international universities, and nongovernmental organizations attended.

Three elements of improving maternal health outcomes stood out in my mind from discussions at the meeting:

 {Photo credit: Mark Tuschman.}A pharmacy in Kenya.Photo credit: Mark Tuschman.

Guaranteeing that patients have uninterrupted access to anti-tuberculosis (TB) treatment begins with national TB programs (NTP) making complex calculations about how many cases to expect in the future.  Vigilant stock management, accurate number of cases started on each type of treatment along with forecasting the expected number of patients that will be enrolled on treatment, are vital to ensure that medicines are available to all patients who need them.

To promote a systems-strengthening approach to TB medicines management, the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program developed QuanTB—a downloadable, desktop tool that transforms intricate calculations into a user-friendly dashboard displaying key quantification and supply planning information.

World TB Day celebration in Ghana (2012). {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Sunday, March 24, 2013, is World TB Day, and MSH staff and partners are promoting global efforts to stop TB throughout the week.

Here are highlights from some of our activities around the world:

The Afghanistan TB CARE I team is working with the national TB program (NTP) to conduct celebration events at 290 health facilities and communities in 13 USAID-supported provinces. TB messages will be aired through local telephone companies to approximately one million people throughout the nation. TB CARE I is also identifying and publicly rewarding high-performing health workers.

The Bangladesh SIAPS TB team will participate in a national rally on March 24 with all TB partners and stakeholders within the NTP network, as well as in a press conference, workshop, and scientific session.

When I worked in Smallpox eradication in the mid-1970s, I traveled all over northern India and Bangladesh. I never took malaria prophylaxis, because malaria had been cleared from those areas. Likewise, I did not take malaria prophylaxis when I worked in the Brazilian Amazon in the late-1970s. At that time, malaria was found only in gold miners in isolated tributaries of the Amazon. Now, due to our financial inability to continue high levels of malaria eradication activities worldwide in that time period, emergence of both anti-malarial and insecticide resistance, and spread of the mosquito vectors, all of these are heavily malaria endemic areas with a high mortality rate for pregnant women and children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released the World Malaria Report 2012, summarizing 2011 data from 104 malaria-endemic countries and citing progress and challenges toward the eradication of malaria.

Honor your mother, support healthy moms, and help kids reach their 5th birthdays: click the image to donate {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Improving Child Health in Communities and at Home, the April/May 2012 edition of MSH's Global Health Impact newsletter (subscribe), features personal stories about child survival and child health in developing countries.

"Prevention, treatment and care close to the home are keys to saving children's lives," says Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH president & chief executive officer, who blogs about saving children's lives through interventions closer to home, shares his 5th birthday picture, and encourages us to support USAID's 5th Birthday Campaign.

Stories about child survival and child health

The newsletter highlights a number of compelling stories from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Nigeria, and Lesotho.

Halida Akhter receiving the United Nations Population Award in 2006.

Bangladesh, which is situated in a resource poor setting with a population of over 150 million, faces the major health challenge of a high maternal mortality rate. In the 1970s, the maternal mortality rate was 700 deaths per 100,000, and now it is still at 320 per 100,000. Although Bangladesh has made progress in reducing its infant mortality, much progress needs to be made to reach the Millennium Development Goals for maternal mortality. Bangladesh will need more than five years to achieve the goals. The Global Health Initiative (GHI) will help address the major health challenges women face in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has successful models of collaboration and public-private partnerships to share with other countries.

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