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Posts Tagged ‘Columbia University’

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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Just a reminder! This event will happen this Thursday, April 29th!

The Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative and Environmental Change and Security Program, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have announced  the fourth event of the series on Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health.

MHTF Blog

The event, Family Planning in Fragile States: Overcoming Cultural and Financial Barriers, will be held on April 29th in Washington DC. Speakers include Nabila Zar Malick, Director of Rahnuma Family Planning Association of Pakistan; Karima Tunau, OB/GYN with Usmanu Danpodiyo Hospital; Grace Kodindo, Assistant Professor of Population and Family Health at Columbia University; and Sandra Krause, Reproductive Health Program Director with the  Women’s Refugee Commission.

“…Countries threatened by conflict rank lowest on maternal and newborn health indicators and have fewer resources for reproductive health services such as family planning and emergency obstetric care. Improving access to sexual and reproductive health services in fragile states may challenge cultural beliefs and gender relations within a country. Program managers, policymakers, and donors can mitigate these tensions through culturally sensitive approaches and increased female participation during peacebuilding efforts…”

For event details, information on how to RSVP , and information on how to watch the  live or archived webcast, read the full announcement here.

For more information on the series, click here.

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The Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative and Environmental Change and Security Program, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have announced  the fourth event of the series on Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health.

MHTF Blog

The event, Family Planning in Fragile States: Overcoming Cultural and Financial Barriers, will be held on April 29th in Washington DC. Speakers include Nabila Zar Malick, Director of Rahnuma Family Planning Association of Pakistan; Karima Tunau, OB/GYN with Usmanu Danpodiyo Hospital; Grace Kodindo, Assistant Professor of Population and Family Health at Columbia University; and Sandra Krause, Reproductive Health Program Director with the  Women’s Refugee Commission.
“…Countries threatened by conflict rank lowest on maternal and newborn health indicators and have fewer resources for reproductive health services such as family planning and emergency obstetric care. Improving access to sexual and reproductive health services in fragile states may challenge cultural beliefs and gender relations within a country. Program managers, policymakers, and donors can mitigate these tensions through culturally sensitive approaches and increased female participation during peacebuilding efforts…”

For event details, information on how to RSVP , and information on how to watch the  live or archived webcast, read the full announcement here.

For more information on the series, click here.

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WATCH THE LIVE WEBCAST TODAY AT THIS LINK.


The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) at EngenderHealth, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have announced the third event, Maternal and Newborn Health as a Priority for Strengthening Health Systems, in their series, Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health.

MHTF Blog
The event will be held on March 8th, 2010 from 3-5pm at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

About the Event
“Increasing investments for strengthening health systems requires improved donor coordination and additional research to help guide decisions about where investments will have the greatest return. The inclusion of key maternal health indicators such as access to emergency obstetric care is an important strategy to improving health systems and encourages the implementation of priority evidence-based interventions.”

Presenters
Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard University School of Public Health; Helen de Pinho, Assistant Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University; and Agnes Soucat, Senior Health Economist & Lead Advisor for Health, Nutrition and Population with the World Bank, will be presenting.

Visit the MHTF Blog for more information, including a PDF invitation, RSVP information–and info on how to watch live or archived videos of this event.

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The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) at EngenderHealth, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have announced the third event, Maternal and Newborn Health as a Priority for Strengthening Health Systems, in their series, Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health.

MHTF Blog
The event will be held on March 8th, 2010 from 3-5pm at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

About the Event
“Increasing investments for strengthening health systems requires improved donor coordination and additional research to help guide decisions about where investments will have the greatest return. The inclusion of key maternal health indicators such as access to emergency obstetric care is an important strategy to improving health systems and encourages the implementation of priority evidence-based interventions.”

Presenters
Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard University School of Public Health; Helen de Pinho, Assistant Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at Columbia University; and Agnes Soucat, Senior Health Economist & Lead Advisor for Health, Nutrition and Population with the World Bank, will be presenting.

Visit the MHTF Blog for more information, including a PDF invitation, RSVP information–and info on how to watch live or archived videos of this event.

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The Grameen Foundation, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Ghana Health Service are working together on a project called Mobile Technology for Community Health (MoTeCH). This joint initiative, funded by the Gates Foundation,  is exploring how to best use mobile phones to increase quality and quantity of maternal and neonatal health services in Ghana.

MobileActive.org

“…For example, a woman might come in for a health check-up when she’s 12 or 14 weeks pregnant, at which point she would be registered into the MoTeCH system. She would then be on track to receive two kinds of messages: informative texts and action texts. The informative texts simply tell the parents what to expect (i.e., developmental stages) during a pregnancy, while the action texts encourage parents to make clinic visits based on their personal histories (such as needs for shots or follow-up appointments).

The other target audience of MoTeCH is community health workers who provide the vast majority of primary care in much of the developing world. The workers use mobile phones to enter data such as when they have seen a patient and what kind of treatment these patients received. Data is then compiled to more easily track patients.

The idea behind MoTeCH is to link the two systems so that the messages can be more specifically targeted and tailored to the needs of the individual parents; for example, if a pregnant woman misses a tetanus shot, the community health workers’ records will show how many weeks along she is and she can be easily sent a reminder. Similarly, messages can be sent to village community health workers alerting them to patients who are in need of specific services in order to locate the patient and encourage him or her to get treatment. ‘It gets community health care workers out of the clinic and seeking patients who need care a little bit more immediately,’ said Wood…”

Read the full story here.

For more info on the subject, take a look at Dying for Cell Phones (Literally).

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President Obama made his budget announcement—leaving some organizations  pleased with the increases in funding for maternal and child health, family planning, and malaria while others wonder if, “scarcity of cash means AIDS has to be played off against maternal health, when both urgently need more money.”

Sarah Boseley’s Global Health Blog

“Hot on the heels of the Gates Foundation $10 billion donation to vaccines and Bill and Melinda’s impassioned pleas to governments to increase their aid comes President Obama’s budget announcement, which has attracted both praise and blame.

Among those who say he is a good guy is the Global Health Council, lauding him for a 9% increase in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget request to Congress. This is their analysis of how the money is to be parceled out.

The Council is happy that there are increases for maternal and child health and malaria and family planning (Obama lifted the Global Gag or Mexico City rule imposed by Bush which prevented any US funds going to overseas organisations including UN agencies which were prepared even to discuss abortion with women).

But other organisations are not happy and foremost among the critics is the formidable Jeff Sachs of Columbia University, who has labelled the budget request a Very Big Disappointment…”

Read the full story here.

Also, take a look at Serra Sippel’s post, Obama’s Global Health Initiative: Getting It Right The First Time Around on Huffington Post.

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