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Posts Tagged ‘IHME’

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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I learned about a great resource yesterday for those working to improve the lives of women and girls, Girls Discovered: Global Maps of Adolescent Girls. The website has three main sections: Maps and Data, Sunita’s Story, and Take Action. The project is a collaborative effort of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls and Maplecroft.

The Maps and Data section has a nearly endless number of interactive maps and data sets focused on adolescent girls around the world across a number of health, education, social, economic, and population indices. Several of the maps provide interesting information about maternal health or issues impacting maternal health around the world–such as abortion legalizationage specific fertility, global anemia rates, births attended by skilled personnel, and several more.

Sunita’s Story seamlessly combines photos and narrative with maps and data to tell the personal story of one girl in India, Sunita–while also presenting the national burden and geographic distribution of the issues that she faces throughout her life. The presentation is simple and clean, making the information easy to consume.

The Take Action section has three PDF downloadable plans for taking action to address the issues of adolescent girls that are mapped on this site. There is a global action plan, a national action plan for India, and local action plan for India.

I encourage you to explore the site–it is a remarkable resource for those working on any of the various issues impacting adolescent girls and young women around the world.

Description of the project:

“The welfare of adolescent girls is crucial in determining economic and social outcomes for countries today, and in the future. For girls to become healthy mothers, productive citizens and economic contributors, their unique needs must be seen and understood.

Yet today, adolescent girls are undercounted and so underserved. Counting them is the first step to increasing their visibility.

Girls Discovered takes that first step. As a comprehensive source of maps and data on the status of adolescent girls worldwide, Girls Discovered helps donors, policy makers and implementing agencies target their investments.

This one-stop shop for information on adolescent girls is sourced from organizations operating in the public interest, and is meant for researchers, practitioners, advocates, policy-makers and the public – anyone who seeks change for the world’s 600 million adolescent girls.”

Mapping for Maternal Health:

A number of organizations have recently started using mapping technologies to provide visual representation of research and data while others are using mapping tools to link organizations working in maternal health in an effort to build a stronger and more interconnected community of maternal health professionals.

Take a look at a few of the maternal health maps I have visited recently.  Several are interactive and allow for user-generated content!

If you know of other maternal health mapping initiatives, please let me know in the comments section of this post!

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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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The symposium, Measuring the Progress on Maternal and Child Mortality: Data, Alternative Methods, and Findings, will be held on May 24th from 11:15am to 5pm at the Washington D.C. Kaiser Family Foundation office, immediately following a 9:30am policy forum on maternal and child health organized by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This all day symposium will bring together several maternal and child health experts and will be moderated by Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet, Richard Horton.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

“…The all day event is designed to initiate vigorous scientific dialogue around the data and analytic approaches used in determining maternal and child mortality rates around the world. The symposium will also highlight the critical role that multiple organizations play in analyzing and disseminating mortality findings in order to strengthen overall methods and results…”

Speakers include:

Diego Bassani, Centre for Global Health Research, St. Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto
Ties Boerma, WHO
Ed Bos, World Bank
Trevor Croft, ICF Macro
Amanda Glassman, Inter-American Development Bank
Alan Lopez, University of Queensland
Rafael Lozano, IHME and former General Director of Health Information at the Ministry of Health in Mexico
Christopher JL Murray, IHME
Kenji Shibuya, University of Tokyo

Click here for the official event announcement.

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