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More from the Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi.

See below for my recap of the third and final plenary of the conference.

Ann Blanc, Director of the Maternal Health Task Force, welcomed attendees of the Global Maternal Health Conference to the third and final day of the conference. She recalled the Safe Motherhood Conference held in 1987 in Nairobi–and said, “Experts at the Nairobi meeting did not expect to be here today. They would have thought that by now preventable maternal mortality would be a thing of the past.”

Lynn Freedman, Director of the Averting Maternal Death and Disability program at Columbia University and moderator of the final plenary, opened the session with a statement that she said few could argue with: Many of the pieces are in place to make preventable maternal mortality a thing of the past; technical knowledge, money, political will, and big improvements on the great challenges of implementation. What we need now is accountability. The title of plenary three was Maternal health accountability: successes, failures, and new approaches.

Insights from plenary three panelists:

Sigrun Mogedal, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway, discussed bi-lateral and mulit-lateral aid for maternal health. She noted the current momentum around maternal health but reminded conference participants that we have been here before–and asked, “Why should now be different?” She pointed out that consensus in New York is not the same as action on the ground. The missing piece needed for more action on the ground is accountability–and this is a matter of hard domestic policies. She said that bi-lateral and multi-lateral debates “take up too much space.” The global must serve and respond to the local, NOT the other way around.

Helena Hofbauer, Manager of Partnership Development at the International Budget Project, raised questions about aid effectiveness–and discussed national governments’ commitments to spending on maternal health. She described the work of the International Budget Project to use budget analysis to address persistent inequalities in maternal mortality. She said that the budget is a nation’s single most important overarching policy document. Helena asked, “What would happen if people actually asked the government how much and specifically on what they are spending to improve maternal health?” The International Budget Project did ask these questions on behalf of citizens, and the response was “deplorable”. In fact, the reply from Nigeria was that this sort of information is “sensitive and controversial” and from Tajikistan, “Please don’t bother the minister with these sorts of requests.” Helena declared, “This is, in practice, an accountability free zone.”

Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, talked about accountability within the context of a human rights and legal framework for improving maternal health. She described a paradigm shift from considering maternal health solely as a public health issue to now understanding it as a human rights issue. Nancy described the legal framework for how and why governments should be held accountable for maternal deaths–citing the right to life, health, equality and non-discrimination, privacy, spacing of children, to be free from cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, and to education, information and the benefits of scientific progress. She described the process of litigation at the national and international level to demand individual compensation and systemic change–noting that demanding this sort of accountability is the next critical step in improving global maternal health.

Aparajita Gogoi, Executive Director of CEDPA India and the India National Coordinator for the White Ribbon Alliance, commented on accountability through grassroots advocacy. She said that working on the issue of accountability at the grassroots level occurs in three phases: gathering information, spreading awareness, and speaking out. She described a number of tools that can be employed to give local communities a voice including public hearings, check lists, verbal autopsies, and more. Aparajita talked about the importance of providing a safe setting for dialogue—a place where communities can voice concerns and demand action. She pointed out that crucial here, is that people with power are also present, take the concerns seriously, and are held accountable for taking action.

For more posts about the Global Maternal Health Conference, click here.

Visit the conference site for archived videos from the conference.

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More from the Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi.

See below for my recap of the second plenary.

Plenary one at the Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi was about finding common ground amidst two sets of maternal mortality estimates. Much like plenary one, plenary two, Community and facility interventions: reframing the discussion, was also about finding a common ground. It was about closing the divide between those who advocate for community-based care and those who advocate for facility based care–an issue that has caused major debates in the maternal health community for decades. This session was about reframing the discussion from “one or the other” to “both”. Plenary speakers called for an understanding that improving global maternal health must be about striking the right balance–and scaling up evidence-based interventions both at the community level and within facilities.

Brief insights from the second plenary:

Syeda Hameed, Member of the Planning Committee of the Indian government, challenged the nearly 700 conference attendees to think critically about one question: “How do we reach the unreached woman who is grappling with issues of maternal health?” Syeda then asked attendees to consider the woman who died last week on a busy Delhi street after delivering her baby. She asserted that training local women is KEY–and said that illiterate or semi-literate women can be trained and can save lives. She cited projects in Gadchiroli as evidence that this is achievable. Syeda also said that India must spend more not only on health, but also on the social determinants of health.

Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Head of the Division of Maternal and Child Health at Aga Khan University, asked conference attendees to consider community-based and facility-based interventions as complementary and interconnected. He cited studies that have shown the impact of community-based interventions in improving maternal morbidity as well as increasing institutional deliveries. He characterized the debate around community vs. facility interventions as a confrontation that has unnecessarily split the field of maternal, newborn, and child health. He proposed an approach that focuses on the continuum of care: Where we have no facilities, we must adopt community based interventions. Where we have some access to skilled attendants, we should use incentive systems, like JSY, to encourage facility-based deliveries. And where there are facilities, we should supplement them with community-based services to support antenatal and postnatal care.

Harshad Sanghvi, Vice President and Medical Director of Jhpiego, said that striking the right balance between community-based and facility-based interventions is going to involve task-sharing. He said that one problem with solely advocating for facility-based care is that what often happens is that we go from poor access to low quality services to improved access to crowded and lower quality services. “We need to figure out logistical support to improve quality within facilities and use task-sharing to improve access to quality care at the community level.” Harshad discussed his experience with community-based distribution of misoprostol in Indonesia, Nepal, and Afghanistan which was safe, feasible, and programatically effective. He also raised transport and referral issues, stating that improving the capacity of communities to administer life-saving drugs will help to reduce the need for emergency transport. He also noted maternity waiting homes as a good option to consider.

P. Padmanabhan, Director of Public Health in Tamil Nadu, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India, expressed the importance of considering context when implementing maternal health interventions in India. He described numerous context driven maternal health intervention strategies throughout many regions of India–illustrating why some projects work better in certain regions that others. He concluded by saying that we must improve service delivery at both the community and facility level, always taking local context into account.

For more posts about the Global Maternal Health Conference, click here.

Visit the conference site for archived videos.

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Last week, the Maternal Health Task Force and the Public Health Foundation of India convened a meeting of nearly 700 maternal health experts to discuss lessons learned, neglected issues, and innovative approaches for improving maternal health at the Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi.

See below for my recap of the first plenary.

The opening plenary, Global progress on maternal health: the numbers and their implications, of the Global Maternal Health Conference 2010 in Delhi focused on global progress on maternal health and explored recent maternal mortality estimates. Speakers discussed the numbers and asked questions not only about what the numbers mean–but also about how the maternal health community can use the numbers.

Over-arching questions from the session were:

Which numbers should we use, those published in the recent Lancet report or those soon to be published by the United Nations (presuming that the numbers will be quite different)?

Will these two sets of numbers prove to be a hurdle in the struggle to bring unity to the global maternal health community? If so, how can we reconcile this and avoid a divide in the community?

Will the two sets of numbers push the maternal health community to establish better and more robust methods of measuring maternal mortality and morbidity?

Has the maternal health community collectively neglected the measurement of maternal morbidity–and how can we begin to focus on measuring not only mortality but morbidity as well?

Brief insights from the opening plenary speeches:

Rafael Lozano, Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, succinctly summarized the  statistical analysis behind the recent Lancet publication in one slide. (Presentations will soon be available online here: www.maternalhealthtaskforce.org/gmhc2010) He also described many of the lessons learned from the research that led to the Lancet piece–the gaining of ground in the reduction of maternal mortality, an improved picture of what the key drivers of progress really are, the correlation between HIV/AIDS and maternal health outcomes, and the importance of communication with countries and local researchers.

Lale Say, Medical Doctor and Epidemiologist at the World Health Organization, discussed the inter-agency approach of monitoring progress on maternal health–stressing the importance of country level consultations and technical collaboration. While she did not present the latest maternal mortality estimates, she talked in depth about the methodology that the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Bank use to estimate global maternal mortality.

Wendy J. Graham, Principal Investigator with Immpact at the University of Aberdeen, urged the maternal health community to understand that failure is not a bad word.  She explained that we often emphasize the successes of our efforts so much so that we neglect to learn from our failures. Wendy also reiterated the importance of context when implementing maternal health programs saying, “context, context, context”–and explaining that because an initiative succeeds in one place, there is no guarantee that it will succeed in the next. We must consider the unique context of each setting where we work.

Saroj Pachauri, Regional Director for South and East Asia at the Population Council, asked a number of thought provoking questions throughout her presentation; We count numbers but do numbers count for policy change? Is there a culture of evidence-based programming? How can we address measurement challenges and improve the use of information? Saroj also noted staggering inequities in maternal deaths between and within countries. She explained that the lifetime risk of maternal death in South Asia is 1 in 43 compared to 1 in 30,000 in Sweden–citing this as an example of a failure to bridge the divide between rich and poor.

For more posts about the Global Maternal Health Conference, click here.

Visit the conference site for archived videos.

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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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Final preparations are underway for the Global Maternal Health Conference in Delhi! With only a couple of weeks until the conference, things have been very busy at the Maternal Health Task Force! Take a look below for the recently finalized live stream schedule. We will be streaming (open-access, no registration necessary) all plenary sessions as well as a number of parallel and panel sessions. In addition, ALL sessions will be archived for future viewing.

If you are interested in guest blogging about the conference sessions, click here for more info.

Cross-posted from the MHTF Blog.

In just a couple of weeks, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) will convene an unprecedented gathering of over 600 maternal health experts and their allies in a global technical and programmatic meeting. The Global Maternal Health Conference 2010 aims to build on the existing momentum around MDG5.  The conference will focus on lessons learned, neglected issues, and innovative approaches to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. The anticipated outcome is increased consensus around the evidence, programs and advocacy needed to reduce preventable maternal mortality and morbidity.

In an effort to engage and inform a broader audience, the plenaries and several sessions will be live streamed.

For information on each of the sessions that will be live streamed–including speakers and abstracts, click on the session title below.

This schedule is in India Standard Time. Click here for a time zone converter!

ACCESS LIVE STREAM FOR ALL SESSIONS HERE.

August 30th, 2010

9:00-10:00 Inaugural

11:00-12:30 Plenary Session:
Global Progress on Maternal Health: The Numbers and Their Implications

13:30- 15:00 Parallel Session:
Human Resources for Maternal and Newborn Health: The Key Element

15:30- 17:00 Parallel Session:
Extremely Affordable Technologies for Maternal and Newborn Survival

August 31st, 2010

9:00-10:30 Plenary:
Community and Facility Interventions: Reframing the Discussion

10:45-12:15 Parallel Session:
Task-Shifting to Expand Access to EmOC: Developing a Deeper Understanding of What it Takes

13:45-15:15 Parallel Session:
Prevention and Treatment of Postpartum Hemorrhage

15:30-17:15 Panel Session:
The Next Generation of Maternal Health Solutions from the Young Champions of Maternal Health

September 1st, 2010

9:00-10:00 Plenary Session:

Maternal Health Accountability: Successes, Failures and New Approaches

10:45-12:15 Parallel Session:
Indian Models of Public-Private Partnerships

13:45-15:15 Parallel Session:
Informatics to Improve Systems

15:30-17:15 Panel Session:
Maternal Health Digital

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In my role at the Maternal Health Task Force, I am helping to coordinate a global team of guest bloggers who will write about the Global Maternal Health Conference next month–and contribute to the online dialogue around the sessions occurring at the conference. The conference will be held in New Delhi, India–but several sessions will be live-streamed. If you are attending the conference in Delhi or plan to participate remotely via live-stream and are interested in blogging, see below for details on how to join the global team of guest bloggers!

Originally posted on the MHTF Blog.

Blogging Team

Blogging is an effective communications strategy for sharing information in real time and fueling dialogue around key maternal health issues. With the Global Maternal Health Conference 2010 right around the corner, our team is looking forward to a lively online discussion around the happenings of the conference. In an effort to fuel a robust dialogue with a variety of global perspectives, we are connecting with global health and development bloggers around the world.

At this time, we are in the process of identifying a cohort of articulate guest bloggers to convey the important activities happening at the conference. If you are attending the conference (either as a presenter or a participant, either in India or remotely via live webcast) and would like to guest blog about the work you are presenting or the sessions you attend, please submit a brief statement of interest or a sample blog post of less than 300 words to Kate Mitchell (kmitchell@engenderhealth.org).

Guest blog posts will be posted on the MHTF Blog and will be cross-posted on a number of other leading sexual and reproductive health, development, and global health blogs.

If you plan to blog about the conference on your own blog, please let us know! We would love to discuss linking to your posts and possibly cross-posting.

For more information, please contact Kate Mitchell (kmitchell@engenderhealth.org).



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Cross-posted from the MHTF Blog.

The World Health Organization (WHO) invites you to join the WHO Guidance Global Discussion Forum on Prevention of Maternal and Perinatal Mortality and Morbidity.

The online forum will be held from July 26th – August 6th, 2010.

The 2 week virtual discussion forum is designed to provide an opportunity for people to share their ideas, experience and opinions about the type of evidence-based guidance WHO should produce in order to support the reduction of maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity.

Over the two-week forum participants will receive one to two emails per day: one email to introduce the day’s questions, and one daily digest of the contributions. Five questions will be addressed, and each discussed over two consecutive days. All contributions received will be acknowledged.

For any questions on this Virtual Global Discussion Forum please contact the forum facilitator: Cordelia Coltart at coltartc@who.int.

Click here for official announcement and invitation to the discussion forum.

REGISTER NOW!

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