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Posts Tagged ‘millennium development goal 5’

On Tuesday, September 14th, the Guardian launched a new website in collaboration with the Gates Foundation. The site is dedicated entirely to global development, was built with the Millennium Development Goals as a framework, and launched just one week before the UN Summit.

Be sure to check out the following components of the new site:

See below for the press release about the new site:

The Guardian today has launched a new website in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help focus the world’s attention on global development. The site will provide a new space for discussion and interaction on the biggest challenges affecting the lives of billions of people across the developing world, including poverty, hunger, infant mortality, adaptation to climate change and economic development.

One aim of the website, which launches just a week before a major UN summit, is to hold governments, institutions and NGOs accountable for the implementation of the United Nations millennium development goals (MDGs), which 192 countries signed up to in 2000. Huge advances have been made with many of the MDGs, and the new site will enable people around the world to better monitor how each country is performing.

For the first time, individuals will be able to access a central data store using the world’s top sources for development and aid data, through which they can access development statistics, and information. For example, users will be able to find out who has given the most aid to Pakistan, or which countries have the highest Aids rates.

Alan Rusbridger, Editor-in-Chief, Guardian News & Media, said: “All too often the mainstream press ignores long-term development stories. However, it is essential to have a place where some of the biggest questions facing humanity are analysed and debated, and through which we can monitor the effectiveness of the billions of pounds of aid that flows annually into the developing world. The creation of this website is a natural step for the Guardian, which has always been internationalist in its outlook and passionate about social justice.”

Kate James, Chief Communications Officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is part-funding the site along with Guardian News & Media, said: ” We are excited to be working with the Guardian on this unique project – creating a global hub for information, debate and action around global development. We welcome the Guardian’s commitment to bringing together and galvanizing the community engaged on these issues and believe that, in doing so, this hub can play an important role in putting a spotlight on global health and development.”

The website features the best of the Guardian’s writers on development, including Madeleine Bunting, Sarah Boseley, Larry Elliott and John Vidal, as well as bringing together a selection of the most distinctive development blogs from around the world and a monthly ‘Poverty Matters’ podcast. In keeping with guardian.co.uk’s mutualisation strategy, the website will focus on linked reporting and response, giving readers the ability to follow conversations and debates, compare sources and links, and get involved.

It is also being supported by more than 20 of the world’s leading development experts, including Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen and American economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Jeff Sachs.

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In April, the Lancet published new maternal mortality estimates (out of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) that showed a significant reduction in global maternal deaths, shaking up the global health community’s understanding of the global burden of the issue–and providing new hope. The report also illustrated the important links between HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality.

In the wake of the Lancet report, maternal health professionals from various organizations engaged in robust dialogue (like this one) about measurement methodologies–and raised questions about when the World Health Organization would release their estimates and how they might differ from the IHME estimates.

On September 15th, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Bank released their new maternal mortality estimates in a report, Trends in maternal mortality. Their report also showed a significant drop in maternal deaths—a 34% decrease between 1990 and 2008.

Excerpt from the WHO press release:

“The new estimates show that it is possible to prevent many more women from dying. Countries need to invest in their health systems and in the quality of care.

‘Every birth should be safe and every pregnancy wanted,’ says Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of UNFPA. ‘The lack of maternal health care violates women’s rights to life, health, equality, and non-discrimination. MDG5 can be achieved,’ she adds, ‘but we urgently need to address the shortage of health workers and step up funding for reproductive health services’…”

More highlights from the report:

  • Ten out of 87 countries with maternal mortality ratios equal to or over 100 in 1990, are on track with an annual decline of 5.5% between 1990 and 2008. At the other extreme, 30 made insufficient or no progress since 1990.
  • The study shows progress in sub-Saharan Africa where maternal mortality decreased by 26%.
  • In Asia, the number of maternal deaths is estimated to have dropped from 315 000 to 139 000 between 1990 and 2008, a 52% decrease.
  • 99% of all maternal deaths in 2008 occurred in developing regions, with sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounting for 57% and 30% of all deaths respectively.

Click here to read the press release and here to read the full report.

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In my last few weeks at the Maternal Health Task Force, I have been working with Raji Mohanam, Knowledge Management Specialist at the MHTF, Matthew Meschery, Director of Digital Initiatives at ITVS, and Lisa Russell, Filmmaker and Co-Founder of MDGFive.com, and an incredible team of presenters, to coordinate a panel presentation on digital tools for maternal health for the Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi. Take a look below for a post I wrote for the MHTF Blog about the upcoming panel session–with info on how to participate remotely.

I am off to India tomorrow! Check back next week for posts from the conference.

The upcoming Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi (August 30th-September 1st) will focus on lessons learned, neglected issues, and innovative approaches to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. The anticipated outcome of the conference is increased consensus around the evidence, programs and advocacy needed to reduce preventable maternal mortality and morbidity.

One session, Maternal Health Digital, will showcase a number of digital communication tools being applied to maternal health. Matthew Meschery, Director of Digital Initiatives at the Independent Television Service, will moderate the session—and will guide panelists and participants through a lively discussion that will explore the potential of digital tools to improve the health of women around the world. Panelists will also address questions about how to measure the impact of such projects.

Throughout the session, conference participants will learn about an email help desk that is aiming to increase access to misoprostol and mifepristine, a mobile phone and radio initiative that is aiming to improve delivery of maternal and neonatal health services, an online media “mash-up” tool that is enabling users to make their own advocacy videos, a crowd-sourcing project that is tapping into the knowledge of front-line maternal health care providers in 9 languages, and more.

This exciting session will include presentations from Google.orgWomen on WebZMQ Software SystemsHealth ChildMDGFive.com, the Social Media Research Foundation, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis ReportingUniversity of Oxford, the Maternal Health Task Force, and the Independent Television Service.

Take a look at the session summary:

In recent years, the health, technology, and communication sectors have come together to innovate health communications through the use of digital media. Advances in tools for cross-media storytelling, social networking, digital games, real-time messaging, and mobile and location-aware technologies are being adapted to fit the needs of the maternal health community—and are helping to fuel the increased momentum around the issue. In this interactive session, conference participants will learn about a diverse range of innovative projects that are aiming to identify challenges and solutions for providing care to pregnant women, build stronger connections among maternal health organizations, create new ways to collect and use data, foster increased collaboration through engaging communities, and continue to drive attention toward the issue. As well as highlighting the promise of these new tools, we will also look at some specific challenges such as measuring impact, working in areas with limited connectivity, and merging online and offline strategies. There will be a series of mini-presentations on crowd-sourcing, interactive mapping, a media mash-up tool, an online reporting hub, mobile health campaigns, and more. Participants will not only get an over-view of a wide variety of strategies and recent developments in digital health communications—but they will also learn tips for applying many of these new tools to their own work and engage in a dialogue around how to maximize the utility of these technologies in order to significantly improve the health of women around the world.

This session will be live streamed! Click here for the live stream schedule.

Join the discussion via Twitter! Conference hashtag: #GMHC2010, Session hashtag: #GMHC2010Digital


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The controversial research reporting unexpected gains in maternal health, published April 12 in the Lancet, has triggered rigorous debate about the measurement tools used to count maternal deaths globally and at a country level. The paper, Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980-2008: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5, was written by Chris Murray and his team of researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The study found a dramatic reduction in the number of women dying from pregnancy complications between 1980 and 2008–and these findings have triggered both celebration and skepticism within the global health community. Some global health leaders are cheering the global progress toward MDG5 indicated by the research. Some are expressing cautious optimism. Others are challenging the paper’s methodology, asking whether it really signals big gains in the struggle against global maternal mortality or just flawed means of estimating how many women are dying.

On June 5th, the Lancet published a reply from Chris Murray in which he addresses some of the concerns voiced by his fellow global health researchers regarding the methodology of the study.

“We appreciate the rich set of letters in response to our paper on maternal mortality. The authors of the letters raise many important points, but we focus our short response on four larger themes that have been raised.

The country graphs in the webappendix to our paper show all the available data points for each country and our best estimates based on these data and the modelling strategy. In the case of the Philippines, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, and Peru, the correspondents have noted that our data-points derived from the analysis of sibling histories in household surveys are different from published figures from the same surveys. The differences stem from two sources. First, we correct for problems of survivor bias in sibling histories, following the published methods of Gakidou and Kingand Obermeyer and colleagues...”

Read the full reply by Chris Murray on the Lancet Online. Be sure to take a look at some of the critiques of the study–linked on the right panel next to Murray’s reply.

For more on this topic, take a look at a recent post, New Maternal Mortality Estimates Published in the Lancet: What’s the Buzz?, on the Maternal Health Task Force’s new MedScape Blog, GlobalMama.


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In this video, Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet, talks about the key themes of the upcoming Women Deliver conference (June 7-9)–specifically the focus on Millennium Development Goal 5, improving maternal and reproductive health.

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The official launch of the Countdown to 2015 Decade Report (2000-2010) will be at the Women Deliver and Countdown to 2015 for Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival conferences next week (the Countdown meeting is being held in conjunction with Women Deliver) –but the report is now available to download on the Countdown to 2015 website.

Countdown to 2015-Maternal, Newborn, and Child Survival

From the report:

“The Countdown report for 2010 contains good news–many countries are making progress, reducing mortality and increasing coverage of effective health interventions at an accelerating pace. But the news is not all good. Many Countdown countries are still off track for achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 (reduce child mortality) and 5 (improve maternal health) and are not increasing coverage of key health interventions quickly enough…”

Click here to download the report and/or the brochure with highlights from the report.

Click here for a press release on the new report.

Click here for a special message from Countdown for conference participants about the special track at Women Deliver for Countdown to 2015 sessions.

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Today, May 5th, is International Day of the Midwife—and UNFPA and the International Confederation of Midwives have released a joint statement calling on world leaders to address the shortage of 350,000 midwives around the world. Their statement explains that increased investments in training midwives are critical to reaching the most marginalized communities–who typically lack access to health services.

UNFPA

“…The UNFPA and ICM point out that midwives can prevent up to 90 per cent of maternal deaths where they are authorized to practice their competencies and play a full role during pregnancy, childbirth and after birth. They have a critical role in providing family planning, counselling, and preventing HIV transmission from mother to child.

As the world gears up for the 10-year review of the Millennium Development Goals, both organizations will be campaigning to increase funding for goals 4, 5 and 6 to reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV and AIDS.

We look forward to the high-level Midwifery Symposium from 5 to 6 June in Washington, D.C., immediately preceding the Women Deliver Conference. The symposium aims to raise awareness around the core role of midwifery services in achieving MDGs 4, 5 and 6; address challenges in global standards on education and regulation of midwives; and strengthen midwifery services…”

Read the full statement.

Also, take a look at this video statement of the President of the International Confederation of Midwives, Bridget Lynch.

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On April 13th 2010, the New York Times published an article,  Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe, about the recent findings published in the Lancet that suggest a dramatic reduction in global maternal mortality. Since then, the paper has published a series of Letters to the Editor. These letters come  from leaders of organizations working on reproductive and maternal health and from health professionals working on maternal health on the ground in countries where maternal mortality continues to be a major problem.

The New York Times

A variety of opinions and sentiments are expressed in these letters that certainly add depth to the initial story published in the Times. Two themes pound through the letters: a new sense of hope that improvements in maternal health are possible and a sense of urgency that this battle has not yet been won–that now, more than ever, is the time for the maternal health community to stick together (despite squabbles among advocates over whether or not the Lancet should have published the paper when they did) and engage in concerted efforts (that include emergency obstetric care, HIV services, and expanded access to family planning) to achieve MDG5.

A careful look at these letters will stimulate a much more robust understanding of the myriad of factors contibuting to global maternal mortality—as well as the potential implications of the findings of the Lancet paper and necessary next steps towards achieving MDG5.

Some authors express cautious excitment that investments are (or might be depending on the author) paying off while simultaneously declaring that it is not yet time to celebrate; far too many women are still dying of pregnancy-related causes!  Joanne Jorissen Chiwaula, director of the African Mothers Health Initiative describes her frustration with Chris Murray (one of the authors of the Lancet paper) for downplaying the importance of emergency obstetric care services in favor of playing up the importance of HIV services, when a comprehensive approach is really what is needed. Mary Robinson, president of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, calls attention to the relationship between maternal health and discimination against women, lack of reproductive choices for women, child marriage, sexual violence, unsafe abortions and inability to own property. She emphasizes the importance of considering maternal health in the context of human rights—and also points out the need to focus on strengthening entire health systems. 

Take a look at a group of Letters to the Editor published on April 18th, and more on April 19th.

For readers comments on the initial story in the Times, click here.

And for Nicholas Kristof’s take on the new maternal mortality estimates, click here.

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Horton comments on the new study, Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980-2008: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5, published today in the Lancet Online First, that suggests a dramatic reduction in global maternal mortality between 1980 and 2008. Horton describes additional significant findings in the paper–aside from the overall drop in maternal deaths. He also outlines five lessons to be learned from this paper. 

 The Lancet

“…What lessons can be drawn from these new data? First, the latest figures are, globally, good news. The provide robust reason for optimism. More importantly, these numbers should now act as a catalyst, not a brake, for accelerated action on MDG-5, including scaled-up resource commitments. Investment incontrovertibly saves the lives of women during pregnancy. 

       Second, the intimate connection between HIV and maternal health is now explicitly laid bare. Such an association, including tuberculosis, has been gaining important recent ground. This latest evidence therefore supports growing calls to integrate maternal and child survival programmes into vertical funding mechanisms for the MDGs, such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria…”

Read the full commentary, Maternal mortality: Surprise, hope and urgent action.

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A new paper, Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980-2008: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5, published today in the Lancet Online First, suggests that global maternal deaths have dropped from 526,300 in 1980 to 342,900 in 2008.

The Lancet

The authors of the paper, estimate that the global MMR decreased from 422 maternal deaths/100,000 live births in 1980 to 251 maternal deaths/100,000 live births in 2008. They also conclude that more than 50%  of all maternal deaths in 2008 occurred in six countries alone: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“…Our analysis of all available data for maternal mortality from 1980 to 2008 for 181 countries has shown a substantial decline in maternal deaths. Progress overall would have been greater if the HIV epidemic had not contributed to substantial increases in maternal mortality in eastern and southern Africa. Global progress to reduce the MMR has been similar to progress to reduce maternal deaths, since the size of the global birth cohort has changed little during this period. Across countries, average yearly rates of decline from 1980 to 2008 in the MMR differed widely. This new evidence suggests there is a much greater reason for optimism than has been generally perceived, and that substantial decreases in the MMR are possible over a fairly short time…”

Read the full paper here.

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In honor of World Health Day, I wrote a post for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases blog, End the Neglect. The post looks at the relationship between these two historically neglected global health issues–and calls for more integration.

End the Neglect

“The theme of this year’s World Health Day is “Urbanization and Health.” Maternal mortality and morbidity, and neglected tropical diseases have a hugely debilitating impact on urban slum populations—who often lack access to health services. I would like to take this day to celebrate the increased attention to the connected issues of neglected tropical diseases and maternal health and to highlight the importance of a comprehensive, integrated approach to maternal health. This sort of approach not only includes universal access to reproductive health services but also addresses neglected tropical diseases—and their impact on maternal morbidity and mortality…”

Read the full post, Women and NTDs: Shared History, Shared Hope.

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Stories of Mothers Saved is a joint project by the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to highlight personal stories of what is working to prevent maternal deaths.

The White Ribbon Alliance (WRA)

“…all individuals and organizations are encouraged and welcome to participate in this global project.  Stories of Mothers Saved will collect the stories of women who are living – who did not die needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth – due to a key action taken by her, her family or community, a health worker, political leader or others.  These stories will highlight what works and what must be done at all levels – from providing girls access to education, to saving money to secure transportation to the health facility when labor begins, to having access to family planning services, to receiving an emergency caesarean section, to attending a well equipped and staffed facility because the government prioritized maternal and newborn health…”

The WRA is interested in Stories of Mothers Saved told in a variety of medium—including  photos, written stories, video and audio. 

Detailed instructions for participation are available in English and  French.

Materials are due to the Global Secretariat by Friday, 2 April 2010. 

Please email wra1@whiteribbonalliance.org with any questions or comments about the project.

Stories of Mothers Saved will have its official debut at the Women Deliver Conference 2010 from June 7th to the 9th, 2010 in Washington, D.C.

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Immpact is looking for a researcher to conduct a scientific literature review of the quality of international maternal health care—and prepare proposals/implementation of formative research studies to improve quality of maternal health services in developing countries.

Immpact

Screenshot from Immpact website.

About Immpact and their current research activities

Immpact is a research unit at the University of Aberdeen with a focus on knowledge generation, knowledge management and knowledge transfer dedicated to reducing maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity in developing countries. This is a global research initiative whose aim is to promote better health and is closely linked with global efforts to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals for 2015, especially those related to maternal mortality reduction.

Immpact has recently been awarded funding by the Norwegian Government to conduct multiple research activities related to improving the quality of maternal care in developing countries, including systematic literature reviews, formative research and developing a large-scale international field trial testing package of quality of delivery care interventions including birth kits.    The current focus of the research project is India and a few selected African countries.

This initiative will contribute to the better conceptual understanding of quality of care available via maternal health services and will generate evidence on the means improving maternal care in the context of developing countries.

The study will improve the quality of delivery care and strengthen health systems, and thus impact upon maternal mortality. The key potential outputs will be:

  • Scientific literature reviews to describe status of quality of maternal care and to identify the effective health systems interventions in developing countries.
  • Prioritisation and pre-testing of promising targeted interventions through series of formative research activities
  • Robust evaluation of the quality of a delivery care intervention package in target developing countries”

Download the full job description here.

See the online posting here.

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In honor of International Women’s Day, the BBC reports on progress toward Millennium Development Goal Five.

BBC

“…For every 100,000 live births in developing countries, 450 women die during pregnancy or labour.

The coalition, which includes White Ribbon Alliance, Amnesty International and Oxfam, says that in 1910, 355 women died per 100,000 live births in England and Wales.

In Scotland and Ireland, the rate was higher – at 572 and 531 respectively.

In Ghana today the rate of pregnancy-related deaths is 560, while in Chad it is 1,500. The rate in the UK is now 14 deaths per 100,000.

The comparison has been drawn because it was 100 years ago that International Women’s Day was established…”

Read the full story, International Women’s Day Call for Labour Deaths Action.


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The goal of the ‘Juana Azurduy’ mother and child subsidy program, introduced in Bolivia eight months ago, is to slash maternal mortality by 80 percent over five years.

Inter Press Service News Agency

“…The subsidy, paid in 17 instalments, is conditional on the mother attending a state health centre for four prenatal check-ups, receiving medical attention during childbirth, and attending 12 postnatal check-ups for the mother and baby until the child is two years old.

The ‘Juana Azurduy’ stipend is complemented by the Health Ministry’s universal mother and child insurance plan (SUMI), which ensures free care for mothers giving birth in any hospital in the country, another healthcare innovation.

‘The subsidy payment comes in handy for buying milk, diapers, and food for the family,’ said Angélica Choque, a mother waiting to be seen at the Alto Miraflores municipal health centre on the outskirts of La Paz, where TerraViva spent a day recently…”

Read the full story, Bolivia: Cash for Checkups to Slash Maternal Deaths.

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