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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

A new report by Save the Children, “State of the World’s Mothers 2010,” identifies Norway as the best place in the world to be a mother–and Afghanistan as the worst.

Save the Children

The focus of the report is on the shortage of front line health workers in developing countries–and the critical need to train more female health workers in order to save the lives of women, children and newborns living in the most marginalized communities.

“Mothers in Norway and Australia are living in the best places in the world, according to Save the Children’s 11th annual “Mothers’ Index”, which ranks the best and worst places to be a mother.  Afghanistan ranked at the bottom of the list of 160 countries, which included 43 developed nations and 117 in the developing world.

The “Mothers’ Index” is highlighted in Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers 2010 report, which examines the many ways women working on the front lines of health care are helping to save the lives of mothers, newborns and young children, and makes an urgent call to increase the number of front-line health workers in the world’s poorest nations….”

Read the full post on the Save the Children site for an overview of the report with a list of the top ten (and bottom ten) places to be a mother–and several very interesting country comparisons across maternal and child health indicators.

UNFPA and the International Confederation of Midwives are also speaking out about the urgent need to train more front line health workers in difficult to reach communities. I posted an excerpt of their statement a couple hours ago.

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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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According to UNFPA, Timor-Leste has a maternal mortality ratio of 660 deaths/100,000 live births

IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis

Women in rural areas have little to no information on reproductive health. Photo by David Swanson/IRIN

“According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), women in Timor-Leste – the world’s newest independent nation and also Asia’s poorest – give birth to an average 6.38 children during their lifetime, one of the highest fertility rates in the world and second only to Afghanistan.  Melinda Mousaco, the country director for Marie Stopes International Timor Leste, told IRIN that awareness of family planning and reproductive health, particularly in rural areas, is ‘next to nothing’.

‘Because of a lack of education, accidental pregnancies happen frequently,’ she said. ‘When we show basic reproductive anatomy or give information about women’s menstrual cycles, people often tell us ‘this is the first time I’ve heard this’.’

Timor-Leste gained formal independence from Indonesia in 2002 after a long separatist struggle and a surge of violence in 1999, and health experts cite conflict and unemployment as key factors in the country’s high population growth…”

Read the full story here.

For more information on UNFPA in Timor-Leste, click here.

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Veil of Tears is a collection of transcribed interviews with children, women, and men in Afghanistan about loss in childbirth. These interviews are part of IRIN’s  Kabul-based radio project, which closed at the end of 2009 after six years of humanitarian radio production and journalistic capacity building in Afghanistan.

IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis

“In Veil of Tears, a 60-page colour booklet launched today, IRIN brings you a unique collection of personal stories of loss and courage in childbirth, as told by women, men and children from different parts of Afghanistan.

The stories were originally recorded in local languages, Dari and Pashto, for IRIN Radio broadcasts. Transcribed into English in Veil of Tears, they convey the immediacy and intimacy of the interviews conducted by IRIN reporters, who travelled in some cases for several days to reach the remotest villages in Afghanistan.

The interviewees in the booklet talk about the struggle to get enough nutritious food to sustain a woman through pregnancy, and to feed their families on any given day; they describe the awesome distances and terrain that separate people living in the villages from the nearest health facility; they describe the lack of proper roads and transport that may leave a donkey cart as the only option to attempt a life-or-death journey with a pregnant wife or mother to a hospital; they explain the cultural and social rules that might mean decisions by men are made too late to save a woman and her baby…”

Read the full story here.

Click here for a PDF of the Veil of Tears.

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IRIN’s humanitarian radio journalist training project has come to an end—but as the project closes, IRIN is preparing to release Veil of Tears, a collection of photos and transcribed audio testimonies on maternal mortality in Afghanistan

“In January 2010, IRIN will be launching a 60-page photo booklet on maternal mortality issues in Afghanistan, entitled Veil of Tears. The booklet is a collection of transcribed audio testimonies on loss in childbirth, as told by Afghan women, men and children, interviewed by the IRIN Radio team from 2005-2009. This collection of intimate stories gives a unique insight into today’s Afghanistan, and serves to showcase some of the important work of the IRIN Radio project…”

Read the full story here.

Visit the IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis website here.

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The Maternal Health Task Force, UNFPA and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative bring you a discussion on Human Resources for Maternal Health: Midwives, TBAs, and Task-Shifting

This event is the second in the series. It will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, January 06 2010, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C.

Click here to RSVP this event.

If you are interested, but unable to attend the event, check out the live or archived webcast here.

Event Details

Extending the scope of responsibilities to non-physician health workers is potentially an important means to reducing maternal deaths in the developing world. While this strategy has proven to be an effective method for addressing human resource gaps in maternal health, pitfalls such as inadequate training and lack of coordination among key actors must be addressed.

Dr. Seble Frehywot, assistant research professor of health policy and global health at George Washington University, will address the motivation and methods for task sharing. Dr. Jeffrey Smith, regional technical director for Asia at Jhpiego, will discuss his field work experience developing workforce plans for midwives and traditional birth attendants, including in Afghanistan. Finally, Pape Gaye, president & CEO of IntraHealth, will discuss the importance of retention and other long-term strategies in human resources for maternal health.

About the Series

The reproductive and maternal health community finds itself at a critical point, drawing increased attention and funding, but still confronting more than a half million deaths each year and a high unmet need for family planning. The Policy Dialogue series seeks to galvanize the community by focusing on important–and in some cases controversial–issues within the maternal health community.

Did you miss the first event in this series?

Don’t worry! You can watch the webcast or read a report on the event! The first event in this series was held in December. The topic was Integrating HIV/AIDS and Maternal Health Services.

To view the archived webcast, click here. To read a report about the event, click here.

Click here to view Integration is all the Buzz, a previous post on this blog that highlights current news about integration of maternal health services and discusses Integrating HIV/AIDS and Maternal Health Services.

More info

Visit the Maternal Health Task Force website here.

Visit the UNFPA website here.

Visit the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative site here.

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