Maternal and Child Health

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News and information about progress towards achieving global access to quality maternal and child health-care.






One in 10 births around world premature, WHO says | Reuters

One in 10 of the some 130 million births around the world each year is premature, the vast majority in poorer countries where chances of survival are low, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.


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Changing the Battle Against AIDS in South Africa | Human Rights Now - Amnesty International USA Blog

Yesterday on World AIDS Day, South Africa was in the news quite a bit. The executive director of UNAIDS was in Pretoria for the commemoration and along with South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, called for greater HIV prevention measures. South Africa has the largest population of person’s living with HIV-nearly 6 million people. Globally, women are disproportionally affected by HIV and AIDS as the fastest rising group contracting the virus. In South Africa, women account for approximately 62% of all persons over age 15 living with HIV.

South Africa has a sad history of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Despite relentless calls by Nelson Mandela’s 46664 organization for comprehensive government programs, South Africa under the presidency of Thabo Mbeki was a tragic wasteland of an epidemic. At one point, Mbeki promoted a policy of natural herbs for treatment, continuously under-funded anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and condom disbursement programs and committed many other policy failures that many blame for not only doing little to lower infection rates but in fact contributing to an increased infection rate.

Thus far, the Zuma presidency has been markedly different. Yesterday the administration announced increased access for vulnerable populations, including “all HIV-positive children under the age of one would be eligible for treatment,” more pregnant women will receive ART, and more person’s dual diagnosed with tuberculosis will also receive ART. Further, Zuma committed the government to “ensuring that all health facilities in the country are equipped to offer HIV counselling, testing and treatment” rather than only those approved as ART dispersal centers.


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Data shows progress needed on HIV testing and treatment for children and mothers

The data shows there has been significant progress in some countries in both treatment to avoid mother-to-child transmission and testing of pregnant women for HIV. Treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission is now provided to 95 per cent of those in need in Botswana, 91 per cent in Namibia and 73 per cent in South Africa — all countries with high HIV prevalence. Progress is particularly evident in South Africa, where coverage was risen from just 15 per cent in 2004. “Globally, 45 per cent of HIV-positive pregnant women are now receiving treatment to prevent them passing HIV on to their children, an increase of nearly 200 per cent since 2005,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “The challenge is to scale up treatment in countries such as Nigeria, which is home to 15 per cent of the world’s pregnant women living with HIV.”

Currently only 10 per cent of women in Nigeria are tested for HIV and ninety percent of pregnant women living with HIV are not accessing treatments to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

The links among household poverty, maternal and child health, and HIV remain strong. However successes are evident where governments have made strong commitments to address maternal and child health – including HIV testing and treatment – and where testing and treatment have been incorporated into general maternal and child health programmes. Progress will be stronger if root causes of vulnerability to HIV, including poverty, gender inequality and sexual violence, are addressed.

"We cannot afford to be complacent," said Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO. "In many high-income countries, paediatric HIV has been virtually eliminated. This shows what is possible. WHO’s new recommendations on preventing mother-to-child transmission, launched today, offer an important opportunity to dramatically improve the health of mothers and children in low-income settings."

Globally pediatric treatment for HIV positive children, while still lagging behind adult treatment, has increased to cover 38 per cent of those in need — an improvement of nearly 40 per cent in just one year. Recent evidence indicates that infant diagnosis in the first 2 months of life and early initiation of anti-retroviral treatment (ARV) can lead to significant reductions in child mortality, but the data shows that globally only 15 per cent of children born to HIV positive mothers are being tested in the first two months.

“To expand HIV testing for mothers and children, we need to tackle social barriers such as violence, stigma and discrimination, and strengthen health systems,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director. “By providing integrated services for maternal and newborn healthcare and family planning and HIV testing, counseling and treatment, we can save and improve the lives of millions of women and children.” The situation of HIV and AIDS orphans continues to be a cause of concern, with only 1 in 8 families caring for orphans and vulnerable children receiving external help, such as medical care, financial assistance and support for education.


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Breastfeeding in Ghana | ONE
As part of the Living Proof Project, which we’ve covered extensively here on the ONE Blog, the Gates Foundation has posted this photo gallery following women at the Osu Maternity Home in Accra, Ghana. It’s part of a larger discussion about the benefits and techniques of breastfeeding, which were also examined in this infographic.

Breastfeeding in Ghana | ONE

As part of the Living Proof Project, which we’ve covered extensively here on the ONE Blog, the Gates Foundation has posted this photo gallery following women at the Osu Maternity Home in Accra, Ghana. It’s part of a larger discussion about the benefits and techniques of breastfeeding, which were also examined in this infographic.


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Save the Children Warns that Climate Change is ‘Biggest health threat for children’
Climate change is the biggest health threat to children in the 21st century and represents an immediate global emergency, according to a new report, “Feeling the Heat,” released today by Save the Children at the Barcelona Climate Change talks.
As many as 175 million children per year will be hit hardest as natural disasters increase over the next decade. No one will be immune from the effects of climate change, but children will feel the brunt of disasters such as floods, cyclones and droughts, as they get worse, the international children’s organisation said. These disasters will combine with an increase in malnutrition and disease, already the biggest killers of children.
The new report, “Feeling the Heat: Child Survival in a Changing Climate”, calls on world leaders to sign an ambitious climate change agreement at the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Conference (COP 15) in December 2009— an agreement that helps the world’s poorest children cope with the effects of global warming. According to the report, climate change also will more than treble the number of people caught up in natural disasters in the next 20 years, with natural disasters more frequent and severe due to climate change. Download the full report here.
The report warns that climate change will exacerbate the leading causes of death of children, including diarrhea, malnutrition and malaria.
"Unless action is taken, climate change will become a slow-motion train wreck with the world’s children on board," said Rudolph von Bernuth, emergency director for Save the Children.

Save the Children Warns that Climate Change is ‘Biggest health threat for children’

Climate change is the biggest health threat to children in the 21st century and represents an immediate global emergency, according to a new report, “Feeling the Heat,” released today by Save the Children at the Barcelona Climate Change talks.

As many as 175 million children per year will be hit hardest as natural disasters increase over the next decade. No one will be immune from the effects of climate change, but children will feel the brunt of disasters such as floods, cyclones and droughts, as they get worse, the international children’s organisation said. These disasters will combine with an increase in malnutrition and disease, already the biggest killers of children.

The new report, “Feeling the Heat: Child Survival in a Changing Climate”, calls on world leaders to sign an ambitious climate change agreement at the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Conference (COP 15) in December 2009— an agreement that helps the world’s poorest children cope with the effects of global warming. According to the report, climate change also will more than treble the number of people caught up in natural disasters in the next 20 years, with natural disasters more frequent and severe due to climate change. Download the full report here.

The report warns that climate change will exacerbate the leading causes of death of children, including diarrhea, malnutrition and malaria.

"Unless action is taken, climate change will become a slow-motion train wreck with the world’s children on board," said Rudolph von Bernuth, emergency director for Save the Children.


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Sarah Brown: A Changing Tide of Opinion for Girls and Women

Saving and improving the lives of girls and women is central to tackling every issue — whether poverty, nutrition, education, child health, economic prosperity, environment — of, in short, saving the world. And one of the greatest gaps has been in addressing maternal health which has prevented the achievement of any real development progress for decades.

Do you know that it is still the case that well over 500,000 girls and women die every year during childbirth — that’s one a minute. And for every mother that dies, 20 — perhaps 30 — times that number are left permanently injured. And of those that die, the vast majority are victim to easily preventable causes.

For millions of women getting pregnant and approaching childbirth means fear and trepidation of death rather than joy and anticipation for life.

We know that if a mother dies in childbirth her newborn child will be 10 times more likely to perish in those first important few months of life — especially girls. Her oldest female child may be forced to stay at home to care for her siblings, or worse be forced in to an early marriage to help relieve the financial burden on the family.

We know that a girl who receives an education, is more likely to marry later, more likely to have her first child later and more likely to survive childbirth — and a mother’s presence in her child’s life makes all the difference — she is willing to address whatever challenges her child faces as no one else will.


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Live-Tweeting the Maternal, Child and Newborn Health Announcement

I wasn't sure if I was going inside and left my laptop behind, thus, the following tweeting ensued until my battery died.
tweet: #Norway at the #UN: we need more results-based financing and more funds for awareness education for mothers. #mchealth #healthabout 4 hours ago from TweetDeck
tweet: Room breaks into applause as Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announces universal free #health coverage for Liberia that gov't will make permanentabout 4 hours ago from TweetDeck
tweet: Ghana Prez announces free coverage for children 8 and under and pregnant. #mchealth #healthabout 4 hours ago from TweetDeck
tweet: Great to see @WHO DG Chan and Zoellick from the @worldbank here. Does this mean the death of user fees?hooray! #health #mchealthabout 5 hours ago from TweetDeck
tweet: Gordon Brown just called out healthcare user fees. "We" gave bad development advice that caused millions of deaths. #health #mchealthabout 5 hours ago from TweetDeck
tweet: Inside the UN for maternal and child health briefing. Coverage at http://www.mchealth.tumblr.com

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Fee on Airline Tickets Will Help Fight Life-Threatening Diseases - NYTimes.com

A United Nations program that has raised $1.2 billion over the past three years for the treatment of H.I.V./AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis through a small fee added to airline tickets sold in 15 countries is going global.

Starting in January, travelers in the United States and other countries buying airline tickets through some of the world’s largest booking companies — including Travelocity, Orbitz and other companies owned or served by Sabre, Travelport and Amadeus — will have the option of adding $2 to their cost to support the fund-raising efforts of Unitaid, which fights life-threatening diseases in poor countries.

Philippe Douste-Blazy, chairman of the organization and the under secretary general at the United Nations charged with developing new financing mechanisms for development projects, said he expected the extended program to add hundreds of millions of dollars to Unitaid’s coffers each year.


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Inside the UN for the “Healthy Women Healthy Children” partnership announcement.

Inside the UN for the “Healthy Women Healthy Children” partnership announcement.


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Ore’s Notes: Female Genital Cutting

This is an interesting article on female genital mutilation or female genital cutting on NEXT: www.234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/News/National/5440715-147/story.csp.

For the life of me, I still cannot get my head around why and how this could be considered acceptable.

via orenotes.blogspot.com


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