advocacy

 {Photo: Joey O'Loughlin}Women Deliver attendees celebrate the launch of the FCI Program of MSHPhoto: Joey O'Loughlin

The FCI Program of MSH will maintain and strengthen the spirit and vision of FCI...
–Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH

MSH hosted a lively reception at the close of the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. More than 150 guests joined us to celebrate the recently-launched FCI Program of MSH, an advocacy and accountability program drawing upon the staff and projects of Family Care International (FCI). The work of the FCI Program of MSH builds on FCI’s 30-year history of effective advocacy for improved maternal, newborn, and adolescent health and for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women Deliver began in 2007 as a program of FCI, so this 4th and largest-ever Women Deliver conference was an especially appropriate place to honor FCI’s legacy and celebrate the FCI Program’s future within MSH.

 {Photo by Catherine Lalonde/MSH}Youth in Mali, with support from Family Care International, performed plays to tell the stories of persons living with HIV/AIDS.Photo by Catherine Lalonde/MSH

“In 509 days, my country will go to the ballot box, and I will be running for office in Kenya,” announced Stephanie Musho, a law student and staffer at a global health non-profit. Musho made this bold statement while speaking on a panel of young African women leaders during the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March.

“But first, I have to tell you a story about what it means to be a woman candidate,” she sighed. “I’ve worked hard for my campaign. I’ve met with constituents and partners to get their support and raise money. I approached two potential contributors, who were men, and they said ‘With a body like that, you shouldn’t have any problem raising money.’ I knew what they were insinuating, and I can’t believe this is still happening. But I’m not going to let that stop me.”

Musho was one of fifteen advocates from the Moremi Initiative, a women’s leadership institute in Ghana, sharing personal stories of working to effect change in their communities and for the women in their countries. Their stories provided poignant context for the challenges they faced and the triumphs they experienced.

 {Photo credit: Michele Alexander/MSH}MSH staff link arms in support of healthy moms and babies.Photo credit: Michele Alexander/MSH

UPDATE: The Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015, S.1911, was introduced in the US Senate by Senators Susan Collins and Chris Coons on July 30, 2015.

Since 1990, nearly 100 million children around the world have been saved due to global efforts to reduce child mortality, and maternal deaths have been cut nearly in half. The US government has played a large role in this great success story.

Yet still, each day, more than 17,000 children’s lives and nearly 800 mothers’ lives are lost due mostly to preventable causes. If you’re like us, you think this is unacceptable. The good news is, history has shown us what we can do when we work together -- and research has backed it up.

We can end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths within a generation. But we must all play our role to make it happen!

The opportunity: A more coordinated US strategy

This week, the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (PDF) will be introduced in Congress, calling for the scaling up of simple solutions and requiring a coordinated, streamlined strategy to end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths by 2035.

{Photo credit: Rui Pires}Photo credit: Rui Pires

Currently, there is strong interest in global women and children’s issues on Capitol HIll, with several Members of Congress declaring bipartisan interest in introducing maternal, newborn, and child survival (MNCS) legislation on Mother’s Day 2015.  MSH is actively engaged in supporting this effort and using our technical expertise to help ensure any proposed legislation is evidence&;based.

To this end, MSH's Policy & Advocacy Unit recently joined the newly&;formed MNCS Working Group, a coalition of like-minded NGOs that are trying to build broader congressional support and education around the importance of MNCS issues.

We look forward to seeing Congress introduce and pass legislation that prioritizes MNCS in US foreign policy and establishes bold leadership from the US on reaching the global goal of ending preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths within a generation.

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

Family planning is not abortion.

If this were understood, we could stop the discussion here. Decades of debate and wrangling over women’s access to contraceptives could end. But the myth that family planning equals abortion fuels policies and practices that block women’s access to health services.

One such policy is The Global Gag Rule (or Mexico City Policy). Coined by Population Action International as "The Policy That Never Dies", The Global Gag Rule bans organizations that receive US public or government funding from using non-US funds to provide (or even refer to) abortion services—even if those services are legal in those countries. When the Global Gag Rule was enforced, some of our partners struggled to provide life-saving services to women in need. These organizations could no longer receive US funding for providing any health services, because they were also providing abortion services that were legal in the country. 

In reality, family planning helps reduce abortion. And many women won't need to abort, if they have the family planning information and services they need.

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera.}Mother and daughter at Kigali Hospital, Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera.

What do the next 500 days mean for global health?

The looming deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will prompt a final push to achieve the health targets that have helped guide the global community since 2000: to reduce maternal and child mortality, provide contraception and curb the HIV, TB and malaria epidemics. Undoubtedly, many people will benefit from vital health services in the next 500 days.    

But many others won’t, and they’re likely to be the people who are already most vulnerable and least served. For example, as maternal deaths have dropped in developing countries, deaths are more concentrated in poor regions; the HIV epidemic still rages in marginalized populations like sex workers and people who use drugs. A key lesson of the MDG era is that nothing contributes to illness more than poverty and exclusion.

In the next 500 days, therefore, many voices will be calling for a new approach to global health in the post-2015 development framework. It’s a dramatic reinvention around a simple idea: that everyone, everywhere, should have affordable access to the health services they need.

 {Photo credit: Amarachi Obinna-Nnadi/MSH}Dr. Zipporah Kpamor, MSH’s Nigeria Country Representative, speaking during the African Health Innovation meeting in Abuja, Nigeria.Photo credit: Amarachi Obinna-Nnadi/MSH

"Good leadership skills, flexible policies, and constant advocacy will improve health in Africa," said Dr. Zipporah Kpamor during her talk at the Africa Health Innovation meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on May 7, 2014. As Management Sciences for Health (MSH’s) Nigeria Country Representative and project director for the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-funded US Agency for International Development (USAID) project, Community-Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS), Zipporah is an expert on the conference’s theme: Leapfrogging development challenges to transform Africa’s health. 

Zipporah offered poignant insight on one of the meeting’s discussion topics: Leadership, policy, and advocacy for health in Africa:

{Photo credit: Rui Pires.}Photo credit: Rui Pires.

Are you looking forward to InterAction's Forum 2014, June 10-13, in Washington, DC?

So are we! The Forum brings together representatives of international organizations from all sectors in the global development ecosystem, including global health.

As a co-sponsor of this year’s forum, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is organizing and participating in panel workshops (details below), an interactive conference booth, and much more.

On Twitter, follow us at and use (official conference hashtag) and (related campaign, led by ). Also follow: , , and .

We hope to see you at these panel workshops, and be sure to visit us at table T-39!

 {Photo credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH.}MSH country representatives and MSH CEO Jonathan D. Quick meet with Congressman Jim McGovern.Photo credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH.

MSH hosted its first Congressional Education Day with leaders from our largest country offices including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, and South Africa on April 10, 2014.

For many, this was their first time meeting with Members of Congress and their staff and they were excited to share how US global health investments are saving lives of women, children and families in their countries. Having physicians, project directors, and advocates share first-hand stories of their work provides a much-needed perspective for congressional leaders to learn the success of health programs in local communities, as well as the challenges.

The MSH country leaders had meetings with 18 congressional offices and had the chance to talk to some Representatives and Senators personally.

While the Country leaders did not lobby for any specific legislation or funding requests, they discussed in detail how US support, both financial and technical, is critical in reducing maternal and newborn deaths; achieving an AIDS-free generation; providing family planning services; and strengthening health systems in fragile states.

Ana Diaz, of MSH Angola, noted that: "these meetings are hard to get and they really force you to think hard about how you are going to grab these people’s attention quickly."

 {Photo credit: MSH} (Left to right) Geoffrey Ratemo of Rutgers University; Senator Godliver Omondi, chair of United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK); Dr. Abdi Dabar Maalim of the Transition Authority; Ndung’u Njoroge of the Transition Authority; and Evanson Minjire of Vision 2030 Secretariat at the first "Health for All" technical working group meeting in Kenya.Photo credit: MSH

The Health for All: Campaign for Universal Health Coverage is working to ensure that challenges that hinder access to quality health care in Kenya are addressed. The campaign aims to ensure that governments and stakeholders in health services delivery prioritize strengthening infrastructure, human resource for health, and health care financing to improve service delivery.

The campaign will official launch on April 28, 2014 with the theme, "Health systems strengthening for universal health coverage".

In preparation for this launch, the campaign team has recruited a Technical Working Group to spearhead the campaign. At the first meeting on January 21, 2014, the team identified the health systems strengthening theme and three sub themes for the campaign: strengthening infrastructure, human resource for health, and health care financing.

[Campaign partners at the messaging workshop in Kenya.] {Photo credit: MSH}Campaign partners at the messaging workshop in Kenya.Photo credit: MSH

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