{Photo credit: Frank Smith/MSH}Photo credit: Frank Smith/MSH

On Sunday, September 27, 2015, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), and its partners Save the Children US and International Medical Corps (IMC), along with African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), committed to bringing together key partners from the global public health, private, public, and civil society sectors to build the No More Epidemics™ campaign that will advocate for stronger health systems with better disease surveillance and epidemic preparedness capabilities to ensure local disease outbreaks do not become major epidemics.

Launching later this year, the No More Epidemics campaign will build a broad and inclusive partnership that will engage multiple sectors to share knowledge and expertise and provide the public information and political support for the right policies and the increased funding to ensure people everywhere are better protected from infectious diseases.

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development

After two years of negotiations, 193 Member States of the United Nations reached agreement last month on the new sustainable development agenda that will be formerly adopted later this week at the 70th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.

The Member States agreed to 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) with a total of 169 targets. The SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that expire this year and will influence development priorities and funding for the next 15 years.

About the New Development Agenda

The agenda, entitled Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is composed of five parts: The Preamble; Chapter 1: The Declaration; Chapter 2: The Sustainable Development Goals; Chapter 3: Means of implementation and the Global Partnership; and, Chapter 4: Follow up and review.

{Photo credit: Mark Tuschman.}Photo credit: Mark Tuschman.

As the 70th United Nations General Assembly convenes later this week in New York, NY to endorse the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is leading conversations on universal health coverage, resilient health systems, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), partnerships, and women's and children's health.

 {Photo Credit: Joan Marshall-Missiye/MSH}A break-out session at the first ECOWAS Forum on Good Practices in Health, held July 29-31 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.Photo Credit: Joan Marshall-Missiye/MSH

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

This ubiquitous African proverb became the unofficial motto of the first ECOWAS Forum on Good Practices in Health, held July 29-31 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. More than 300 health professionals, researchers, donors, implementing partners, and stakeholders gathered at the conference, hosted by the West African Health Organization (WAHO), a partner of Management Sciences for Health.

In his opening speech, USAID West Africa Regional Mission Director Alex Deprez reminded the assembly that most maternal and child health indicators in West Africa are “unflattering.” The average fertility rate remains the highest in the world at 5.7, while the contraceptive prevalence rate, at 10 percent, is the lowest. West Africa loses thousands of mothers and young children daily to preventable complications and diseases. More than 100 children in West Africa die per 1,000 live births, and there are between 438 and 888 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

{Photo credit: MSH staff}Photo credit: MSH staff

The teenage years. Changes seem to happen overnight. Puberty. Your first crush. Fighting with a parent. Discovering your identity, your purpose, and your role in the community. A confusing and challenging, yet rewarding, coming of age... an emerging adult.

Half the world’s population is under 30 years old. About 1.8 billion people, the largest generation of youth in history, are between the ages of 10 and 24. In most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, people ages 15 to 29 will continue to comprise about half of the population for the next four decades. How does this unprecedented proportion of young people impact public health, and a community and country’s sustainable development?

Sustainable health outcomes will depend on how we engage and empower our youth.

Wednesday, August 12, is International Youth Day; the date designated by the United Nations to recognize the influence young people have on society and to raise awareness of youth issues. Currently, there are over 1.8 billion young people in the world that are not only patients, clients, and beneficiaries, but providers and leaders who can contribute to a healthier future for all.

{Photo: Glenn Ruga}Photo: Glenn Ruga

Are you interested in youth leadership for family planning and reproductive health?

Join the Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project (@LMGforHealth) for the launch of the #AskLMG Twitter Q&A Series on Thursday, August 6, 2015, at 10 am ET.

MSH staffer Sarah Lindsay (@shlindsa) will be answering questions about the importance of youth leadership development; the roles youth leaders play; and the LMG Project's support for young leaders improving family planning and reproductive health in their communities.

Not on Twitter? No problem! On Thursday, we'll also answer questions on the LMG Project's Facebook page, and create a digital recap after the Q&A wraps up.

 {Photo credit: Matthieu Koy Matili/MSH}Elene O. and her baby, Omedji village, Benadibele health zone.Photo credit: Matthieu Koy Matili/MSH

Breastfeeding is a human right, and critical for the health of both newborn and mother. Newborns benefit from early skin-to-skin contact and the antibodies in the mother’s first milk, plus factors that protect against later obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. Mothers benefit because early breastfeeding assists in uterine shrinkage and helps prevent postpartum bleeding. In addition, frequent, exclusive, breastfeeding reduces the likelihood of an immediate new pregnancy.

Optimal breastfeeding is most advantageous when started within an hour of birth and continued exclusively for six months; research shows that it could save 800,00 children’s lives. Yet, globally, only 38 percent of infants are breastfed exclusively.

World Breastfeeding Week 2015 (August 1-7) focuses on supporting women breastfeeding at the workplace (“Let’s make it work”).

For many women, especially in the developing world, barriers to breastfeeding start in the home or even the health facility -- before returning to work in her household, community, or workplace.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman, Ethiopia}Photo credit: Warren Zelman, Ethiopia

My home region of Tigray in northern Ethiopia has made great strides in ending preventable maternal mortality. Best estimates suggest that the maternal mortality ratio in our region dropped from approximately 653 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990, to 267 in 2014. However, while most pregnant women in Tigray attend at least one antenatal care visit, only 41 percent attend the recommended four visits, and less than 63 percent deliver with a skilled birth attendant.

We at Management Sciences for Health (MSH) are always looking for new approaches to support the Government of Ethiopia’s efforts to improve maternal health. We discovered one such approach through communities of practice (COP) -- or what we call technical exchange networks.

 {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.


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