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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Horton’

Tuesday (6/8) marked day two of Women Deliver 2010. Day two was all about innovation and (high and low) technology to improve the health of women and infants worldwide–in fact, the conference organizers marketed Tuesday’s sessions as a stand-alone symposium called Technology as a Catalyst for Social Transformation.

Take a look at two examples of technologies that were discussed at the conference on Tuesday…

Microbicide Vaginal Rings (High Tech)

“The nonprofit International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) today announced the initiation of the first trial among women in Africa testing a vaginal ring containing an antiretroviral drug (ARV) that could one day be used to prevent HIV transmission during sex. The clinical trial, known as IPM 015, tests the safety and acceptability of an innovative approach that adapts a successful technology from the reproductive health field to give women around the world a tool to protect themselves from HIV infection…”

Read the full press release here.

Clean Delivery Kits (Low Tech)

Clean Birth Kits–Potential to Deliver?, a publication supported by Save the Children/Saving Newborn Lives, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Immpact (University of Aberdeen), and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth, was released at a session at Women Deliver yesterday. The session was chaired by Claudia Morrissey of Save the Children; moderated by Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet; and presenters included Wendy Graham of University of Aberdeen, and Haris Ahmed of PAIMAN. The goal of the session was to summarise the evidence base for clean delivery kits, discuss practical implementation experiences from the field, and to have a lively debate on the “risks” associated with promoting birth kits. The report will be available online soon.

Subscribe to the MHTF Blog for updates on this project/report–as well as updates on other MHTF projects and commentary on a variety of maternal health issues.

Check out a recent blog post, A Good Idea or an Expensive Diversion: Workshop on the Evidence Base for Clean Birth Kits, by Ann Blanc, Director of the Maternal Health Task Force, on a workshop leading up to the new report on delivery kits.

Click here for the webcast of a session at Women Deliver 2010 that explores “What’s on the Horizon” for new technologies in contraception.

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In this video, Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet, talks about the key themes of the upcoming Women Deliver conference (June 7-9)–specifically the focus on Millennium Development Goal 5, improving maternal and reproductive health.

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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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On Wednesday, the Columbia Journalism Review published a thoughtful analysis of how the media is covering the new global maternal mortality estimates published in the Lancet on Monday. The piece provides a good overview of  how a handful of major news organizations are choosing to frame the story–raising questions about why some organizations  are choosing to focus on the content of the Lancet paper, while others ere focusing more on the ‘side story’ of a group of maternal health advocates who apparently pressured the Lancet not to publish the paper ( at least not to publish it yet). The Columbia Journalism Review analysis concludes that, overall,  the reporting on this story has been “simple” and “narrowly focused.”

“…A slew of news articles this week have focused on two recent reports about the number of women who die during pregnancy or in childbirth around the world every year.

The reports don’t exactly agree, and with public health experts and heads of state meeting at the United Nations this week to discuss maternal and child health issues, it is no surprise that some squabbling over the data has emerged. Unfortunately, reporters have not provided much detail or clarity about either the squabbling or the data…”

Read the full analysis here.

What do you think about how the media is covering this story?

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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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Horton comments on the new study, Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980-2008: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5, published today in the Lancet Online First, that suggests a dramatic reduction in global maternal mortality between 1980 and 2008. Horton describes additional significant findings in the paper–aside from the overall drop in maternal deaths. He also outlines five lessons to be learned from this paper. 

 The Lancet

“…What lessons can be drawn from these new data? First, the latest figures are, globally, good news. The provide robust reason for optimism. More importantly, these numbers should now act as a catalyst, not a brake, for accelerated action on MDG-5, including scaled-up resource commitments. Investment incontrovertibly saves the lives of women during pregnancy. 

       Second, the intimate connection between HIV and maternal health is now explicitly laid bare. Such an association, including tuberculosis, has been gaining important recent ground. This latest evidence therefore supports growing calls to integrate maternal and child survival programmes into vertical funding mechanisms for the MDGs, such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria…”

Read the full commentary, Maternal mortality: Surprise, hope and urgent action.

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