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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Several U.N. agencies recently collaborated on a text messaging initiative to improve communication between community health workers and pregnant women in a community in Rwanda. Local women, health workers, and hospital directors are raving about the initiative but scaling up the project throughout the country may prove challenging; only 6% of the population in Rwanda has electricity and charging phones often means long walks to charging stations.

Reuters

“…John Kalach, director of the nearest hospital in Ruhengeri, says since Rapid SMS launched in August 2009, his hospital has had no maternal deaths, compared to 10 the previous year.

‘We used to get ladies coming here with serious complications just because they delayed the decision because the journey was very long,’ he says.

Kalach says authorities can use the data to work out which diseases affect women during pregnancy, the causes of death for children below five years, the volume and type of drugs required, and to monitor population growth rates.

Friday Nwaigwe, UNICEF’s country head of child health and nutrition, says the next step is to give mobile phones to 17,500 maternal health workers across the country and eventually to all 50,000 community health workers…”

Read the full story here.

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Several leading media outlets are covering the news of dramatic global declines in maternal deaths–and raising questions about why a group of women’s health advocates pressured the Lancet to delay publishing the findings…

The New York Times

“…The study cited a number of reasons for the improvement: lower pregnancy rates in some countries; higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care; more education for women; and the increasing availability of “skilled attendants” — people with some medical training — to help women give birth. Improvements in large countries like India and China helped to drive down the overall death rates.

But some advocates for women’s health tried to pressure The Lancet into delaying publication of the new findings, fearing that good news would detract from the urgency of their cause, Dr. Horton said in a telephone interview…”

Read the full story, Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe, on NYTimes.com.

The New York Times Freakonomics Blog

The New York Times Freakonomics Blog also had something to say about this story and provided some background information on the history of maternal mortality–including a reference to the contributions to maternal health of Ignatz Semmelweis, the Hungarian physician who discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically reduced with basic hand washing (ie. Medical students needed to wash their hands between cutting open cadavers and delivering babies!!).

Read the full post, Who’s Not Happy About a Falling Maternal Death Rate?, on the New York Times Freakonomics Blog.

Also see stories from the Associated Press, Lancet reports drops in maternal childbirth deaths, says it was pressured not to publish story; and from the Washington Post, Fewer Women Dying in Childbirth, Study Says.

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Roots of Health is an organization working to provide women, young mothers, and children in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines with educational, medical, and nutritional support–and they also have a program specific to ensuring healthy pregnancies. Amina Evangelista Swanepoel recently wrote a blog post on her work providing reproductive health education to women in the Philippines–and the interesting beliefs of many of these women.

Roots of Health Blog

“Some of the beliefs we encounter at Pulang Lupa are wrong, but are generally harmless. Others, such as the belief that drinking soap will cure an STI, are dangerous. Last week our topic during our health sessions was on sexually transmitted infections (STIs). As we discussed prevention techniques and cures we were confronted with some funny, some disturbing and some just plain weird ideas about a range of related topics…”

Read the full post, Flipping Your Uterus and Other Ways to Prevent Pregnency.

Learn more about Roots of Health’s work.

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AllAfrica.com reports that the Nutrition Society of Nigeria is calling for a review of the current national food and nutrition policy—stating that malnutrition accounts for 60% of avoidable maternal, child and infant mortality in Nigeria

allAfrica.com

President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Professor Ignatius Onimawo spoke at the opening ceremony of the 21st anniversary of the Food Basket Foundation International Initiative at the University of Ibadan. He described malnutrition as a major silent killer in Nigeria and said, “It is instructive to know that of the over 100 universities currently operating in Nigeria only five run degree courses in nutrition and yet nutrition holds the key for the reversal of the vicious attack of these deadly diseases.”

Read the full story here

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Elizabeth Payne, Editorial Board member of the Ottawa Citizen, outlines a plan/suggestion by Keith Martin, medical doctor and maternal health expert, for G8 countries to tackle maternal mortality in developing countries.

Ottawa Citizen

“…Martin says the federal government must articulate exactly what it is going to do when it comes to the G8 maternal health initiative and access to reproductive technology. ‘I hope they don’t take an ideological position.’

Harper will be ‘turning back the clock,’ Martin says, if the initiative does not include reproductive health: ‘I can’t think of another country that would take that position.’

But, he adds, the initiative is too crucial to be lost because of political debate. There is a way Canada can lead a ‘pragmatic, effective plan’ without having to directly support abortions or contraceptives.

Martin suggests each of the G8 countries could take on a different aspect of the campaign to reduce maternal and child mortality.

‘It would be a way for the conservative government to make sure what comes out of the G8 is a plan that is implemented rather than talked about,’ he said.

In order to reduce maternal mortality rates, he says, a G8 initiative should include training of primary care workers, access to medications, diagnostics, clean water, access to power, access to family planning and nutrition, particularly micro-nutrients…”

Read the full story, How to help women, and avoid abortion politics.

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March of Dimes

“The March of Dimes has made a grant to UNICEF to help thousands of pregnant women, mothers and babies in Haiti imperiled by the devastating earthquake and its aftermath.

‘The March of Dimes is deeply concerned about the thousands of pregnant women and moms caring for infants in Haiti, especially extremely fragile premature babies’ said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.  ‘Many babies and young children have been separated from their families, others are feared orphaned.’

The March of Dimes special gift of $100,000 will help Haitian women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and babies who are in dire need of proper nutrition, safe water, and safe ways to prepare infant formula, as well as supplies such as diapers and clothing…”

The article also points out several of the long-term needs of women and babies in Haiti including prenatal and newborn care, specialized care and equipment for an expected rise in premature births, multivitamins with folic acid for women of childbearing age, etc.

Read the full story 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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