Category Archives: Blog

The Next #HeForShe Initiative Launches in Davos

HeForShe Impact 10x10x10

Last September Emma Watson, UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, helped launch the UN Women’s #HeForShe global campaign that calls upon men and boys to stand up against gender discrimination and to help women gain parity economically, politically, and socially through everyday actions and a commitment to change.

Now Watson is in Davos, Switzerland at the annual World Economic Forum where earlier today she delivered another speech at a press conference attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,  launching the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, a year-long pilot program that will elicit gender equality commitments from governments, corporations and universities. Through these commitments, the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 program will evaluate these commitments to measure their scalability and effectiveness for gender equality.

Continue reading The Next #HeForShe Initiative Launches in Davos

USAID Tackles Respectful Maternity Care, Better Working Conditions for Midwives

This week USAID released its follow-up to Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality: USAID Maternal Health
Vision for Action (June 2014) with its new report of the same name with the addition of evidence for strategic approaches. These approaches seek to lower the world’s maternal mortality rate. Right now 289,000 women die per year from complications during child birth.

While it is widely known that MDG 5 will fall short of its overall global goal, USAID has partnered with other leading organizations including the World Health Organization, Maternal Health Task Force, United Nations Population Fund, and the Maternal Child Health Integrated Fund along with representatives from 30 countries  to work on a new set of maternal health goals. Set in April 2014, these organizations are now working towards a global maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 70/100,000 with no country having above a 140 MMR by 2030.

Continue reading USAID Tackles Respectful Maternity Care, Better Working Conditions for Midwives

5 of Our Partners Who Continue to Work in Haiti #Haiti5Years

In an earlier piece today, How is Haiti Faring Five Years After the Earthquake, development and recovery effort data and details were rather pessimistic. The numbers bear out that while some overall development achievements have been met, there is still a long way to go to help Haiti fully recover. And, yet, there continues to be successes all over Haiti. Our partners are helping to make these successes happen.

SOS Children’s Villages 

On January 10, 2015, SOS Children’s Villages opened its third village for orphaned children in Les Cayes, Haiti. 63 children will be provided a home. For over 30 years, SOS Children’s Villages has provided family-based care and education programs in Santo and Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. Immediately following the earthquake SOS Children’s Villages took in 400 orphaned children and fed 24,000 children every day.

“The biggest challenge for SOS Children’s Villages during the earthquake was to find a way to welcome these children because the village was too small,” said Celigny Darius, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages – Haiti. “We installed temporary houses to enable us to take them in.”

In addition to the opening of its third village, SOS Children’s Villages has invested in six schools to renew education on the island. And 3000 children receive support through their community centers.

Continue reading 5 of Our Partners Who Continue to Work in Haiti #Haiti5Years

How Is Haiti Faring Five Years After the Earthquake?

Five years ago today, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake destroyed large regions of Haiti especially Port-au-Prince and Jacmel. For the poorest country in the western hemisphere, the earthquake only exacerbated poverty matters for its citizens and its standing in the world economy. An estimated 230,000 people lost their lives and 1.5 million more were displaced. Since 2010, $13 billion has been raised to aid the small Caribbean island country, but where has the money gone?

By most accounts, Haiti is doing much better than it was five years ago, and yet there is still a long way to go to provide permanent housing for its citizens and finally do away with the tent cities that became ubiquitous with a slow-going recovery effort.

“Haiti’s recovery has not been easy. There have been – and continue to be – setbacks along the way, and there is much work still to be done to ensure political and institutional stability, democratic governance and sustainable development,” said the UN chief, Ban Ki Moon in a statement commemorating the five year anniversary of the earthquake.

While some Haitians have moved into permanent housing outside of Port-au-Prince many complain that the new homes, while much better than living in squalid tent cities, are too far away from Haiti’s capital to work. Jobs were promised near their new homes, but those have not yet materialized. And, there is still a looming question about the 8,000 cholera deaths that occurred after human waste was inadvertently dumped into major waterways by Nepalese UN workers in 2010. 700,000 people were also sickened by the disease and continue to be plagued today. Haitian groups have tried since 2013 to sue the United Nations because of the cholera epidemic, but last week, a judge ruled that the UN could not be sued.

Continue reading How Is Haiti Faring Five Years After the Earthquake?

Infographic of the Week: 2015 African Elections

This year, Africa will see 16 general, parliamentary, or presidential elections. We are particularly interested in the elections in Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Zambia and will follow them this year. Of note, Zambia’s election is on January 20 and Nigeria will hold their elections on February 14.

After the sudden death of Zambia’s former president, Michael Sata, last October, Zambia had 90 days in which to elect a new president. Many believe that the leading candidate Edgar Lungu for the Patriotic Front party, which Sata founded in 2001, will win handedly, but there is already hate speech and what looks like potential looming violence as the election date nears.

Nigeria’s elections are sure to grab countless headlines as Goodluck Jonathan seeks another presidential term. But upon the backdrop of the 200 missing girls who were taken last year by Boko Haram and their continued violence in Northern Nigeria, the election will likely be mired by threats of violence and potential civil unrest.

Goodluck officially launched his reelection campaign on January 8.

The infographic is from Brookings’ latest Africa report: Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2015.
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Ethiopian Health Workers Receive Influx of Family Planning Training

In sub-Saharan Africa, 49 million women use traditional methods of family of no family planning methods at all. In Ethiopia, 39.1 percent of women use modern contraceptives up from 15 percent in 2005. The current low rate of contraceptive use in Ethiopia is a result of a combination of factors: cultural biases as well as a lack of trained health workers that can reach every woman in the country. Ethiopia is Africa’s second-most populated country behind Nigeria with 90 million people and only has a few hundred OBGYNs. There is currently only one obstetrician for 1.8 million women in Ethiopia.

That said, Ethiopia’s federal government has done an exceptional job training health workers since its Health Extension Workers program officially launched in 2003. Now 34,000 women strong, Ethiopians are afforded access to skilled health workers in their villages and cities, but there is still an unmet need for reproductive health and family planning services from health professionals.

The University of Michigan was recently gifted an anonymous $25 million dollar grant to train Ethiopian doctors in reproductive health services.  University of Michigan’s new Center for International Reproductive Health Training will train incoming doctors, nurses and midwives in comprehensive family planning services at seven medical schools across Ethiopia. The first phase of the grant will be used to build upon the work the University of Michigan is already doing at St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa.

Thomas Mekuria, third-year resident in OB/GYN at St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Thomas Mekuria, third-year resident in OB/GYN at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Every day, women across the globe are dying and suffering from poor health outcomes because they don’t have access to high quality, comprehensive reproductive health care,” says Senait Fisseha, M.D., J.D., the center’s director in a statement.  Fisseha, who was born in Ethiopia, is a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at the U-M Health System.

“We are overwhelmingly grateful for this extraordinary grant that allows us to build on our strong foundation of global reproductive health programs and continue to pursue a longtime dream to provide all women a full scope of high quality reproductive health care when and where they need it.”

With a maternal mortality ratio of 420 per 100,000 live births in Ethiopia, family planning services are essential to keep more mothers alive, especially teenage mothers who are not prepared physically to bear children. The average Ethiopian woman has 5.5 children according to the most recent demographic data.

“Our center will help empower women to make their own decisions about their own reproductive health, thereby choosing whether and when to start a family,” Dr. Fisseha continued. “Our ultimate goal is to help train future generations of capable and competent health care providers in many parts of Africa and South Asia who can deliver comprehensive reproductive health services, and also be advocates for the safest and best health care possible at every stage of a woman’s life.”

5 Global Health Stories We’re Following This Year

2015 will be an interesting year in global health primarily because this is the year when the Millennium Development Goals should ideally be reached. Global health experts admit that many of the goals, for example MDG5, will not be reached globally even though some of them have already been reached on a country level.

Ethiopia effectively reached MDG4 along with Bangladesh, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, and Tanzania according to a 2013 report in the Guardian and UN data. Globally, the proportion of people having access to safe drinking water was reached in 2012. That is cause for celebration.

The overarching theme this year will be how the global health community will save more lives in low and middle-income countries in the best ways possible. This does not necessarily mean substantive goals, target dates, and data measurements will be scaled back. Rather, improved approaches to global health will be devised to streamline processes and programs.

While there are many global health stories that deserve following in great detail here are our top five picks for 2015.

1. The Effect of Ebola on Maternal Health: While Ebola is being fought in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia there must also be an enhanced emphasis on women who are pregnant and need to deliver their babies in a hospital setting. As it is, with low resources and crippled health systems in these three countries, women still need to be afforded quality care during pregnancy and delivery while health workers also care for those stricken with Ebola.

As the year goes on it is probable that key data will emerge from lessons learned during the Ebola response. According to Scientific American, the WHO, UNICEF, and Save the Children have already devised best practices and protocols for safe delivery.

2. Global Immunizations: This year we will watch the increase in rotavirus vaccine roll-outs across poor countries. Why? Diarrhea is one of the top three leading causes of deaths for children under five, and yet the rotavirus vaccine isn’t accessible in the volume of some the other vaccines. That said, rotavirus roll-outs have increased substantially since 2011. There is more good news. With increased GAVI funding, the rotavirus vaccine will be introduced in 30 countries this year.

rotavirus

We will also look at the progress of the Ebola vaccine. GAVI has announced that it is ready to purchase a million doses of the vaccine as soon as the World Health Organization approves its use. Today, Johnson & Johnson announced that they have already begun clinical Ebola vaccine trials with volunteers in Africa.

3. Country Commitments to the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP): Last year saw the official adoption of the plan during last year’s World Health Assembly and the launch of the Every Newborn Action Plan in Johannesburg during the Partners Forum. Upon its launch there were already 40 commitments (PDF) to save more newborns globally. That said, this year we will also look for increased commitments, particularly country commitments, to the ENAP especially since 2.9 million newborns die every year due to largely preventable causes.

4. Scaling Up of Frontline Health Workers: Did you know there is a global shortage of 7.2 million frontline health workers? That key data has been widely shown by the lack of health workers in  Ebola stricken countries. It’s the lack of health workers that has made fighting Ebola harder than it should be and why many health workers outside of Africa have had to pick up the slack.

Scaling up health workers is a large expense, but it bears repeating that in order for countries to provide quality health care to their citizens there must first be enough health workers. Ethiopia is touted time and again as an excellent example of a poor country that effectively scaled health worker coverage across the country through a government-led effort. Other countries’ health ministers have traveled to Ethiopia to see best practices for scaling up their own frontline health force. The second step after key learnings, however, is making sure actions are taken besides pure lip service. In 2015 we will look at evidence from other low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, that will introduce better national health worker programs.

5. Food Security in Conflict Areas: At the end of 2014, the World Food Programme said that it had suspended food aid to 1.7 million refugees in Syria due to a lack of donor funding. And previous to that, the WFP split vouchers in half to stretch funds according to the New York Times. Even though the World Food Programme received an emergency influx of funds after their voucher suspension announcement last month, it is never a good sign to see that there are not enough donor dollars to feed the world especially those who are living in conflict areas. Food security in not only conflict zones, but also in West Africa will be on our must-follow list this year.

Which global health stories are you following this year?

 UN Photo/Martine Perret

Our 12 Biggest Highlights of 2014

2014 was a very good year! We partnered with leading NGOs and nonprofits to advance causes that mean the difference between life and death and quality living for the world’s poorest citizens. We traveled around the world to report on water and sanitation, newborns, maternal health, disaster relief, and health workers. We traveled domestically to report on some of our partners’ milestone seminars, conferences, and panels. But most importantly, we kept the momentum going to work collectively as mothers who use social media for good.

We very much look forward to 2015 and what it has in store. Here are our twelve highlight moments of 2014 – in no particular order.

1. Advocated for the Every Newborn Action Plan

We continued to help raise awareness about the importance of quality newborn care and the Every Newborn Action Plan.  We partnered with Save the Children and the Gates Foundation to raise awareness among parents about newborns and how they can be easily saved through easy interventions.  Read more our 2014 newborn health reporting.

2. Reported From Nicaragua

Our member, Jennifer Iacovelli, traveled to Nicaragua with WaterAid America in March to see their water relief programs frist-hand. See all of her updates. We also hosted a Twitter chat while Jennifer and the team were in Nicaragua reaching two million people and garnering over 10 million actions.


3. Reported From Tanzania With PSI and Mandy Moore

We traveled to Tanzania with PSI and actress, singer, and humanitarian Mandy Moore to report on health worker programs. Read reports from PSI Impact: Team Orange: How PSI Reinforces Positive Reproductive Health Messaging Through Branding, Edutainment,  Meeting Blandina, and Health Systems Need Health Workers

Left to right: Health worker Mama Blandina, Jennifer James, Asia, a client of Blandina’s and her son, and  Mandy Moore.  Photo: Trevor Snapp.

4. Reported on the One Year Anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines With World Vision

We covered the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines with World Vision USA with Social Good Mom member, Jeana Shandraw as well as their disaster relief since the superstorm ravaged the country last year. Read our reports from the World Vision blog.

5. Featured in Matterness: Fearless Leadership in a Social World

We were honored to be featured in Allison Fine’s newest book, Matterness: Fearless Leadership for a Social World.


6. Reported From South Africa During the Third Partners Forum

We attended and covered the Partners Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa and were happy to report on the official launch of the Every Newborn Action Plan.

7. Joined With New Partners

We joined with new partners: SOS Children’s Villages, Vaccine Ambassadors, and Midwives for Haiti and look forward to working with them more in 2015!

 


8.  Attended the Best Buys Panel with PSI in Washington, DC

Read our coverage at the Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists: Are There Real Best Buys in Global Health?

9. Covered International Women’s Day and Advocated on the Hill with Oxfam America.

Every year Oxfam America joins with its Sisters on the Planet community to honor International Women’s Day. We were honored to be there and look forward to joining Oxfam America this year as well!

10. Partnered with UNESCO on #TeacherTuesday

UNESCO partnered with leading blogs around the world to highlight education and exceptional teachers. We were honored to work with UNESCO on their #TeacherTuesday effort.


11.  Reported on IntraHealth’s Work in Tanzania

IntraHealth is known for its effective health worker programs. It was a priviledge to report on its Voluntary Male Circumcision Program in rural Tanzania. Read the report from IntraHealth’s VITALS blog.


12. Worked with the International Reporting Project to Plan a Newborn Health Reporting Trip to Ethiopia

Newborn health has been an important topic over the past three years. Noted journalists traveled to Ethiopia to report on newborn and maternal health, reproductive health, and health workers. Two Social Good Moms members were a part of the reporting team. Read more on Journalists Travel to Ethiopia to Report on Newborn Health.

How PSI Keeps Sex Workers Safe in Haiti

By Ashley Judd, PSI Global Ambassador

A woman will do whatever is needed to feed her family.

In a brothel in downtown Port Au Prince, you see just that. Twenty women, all of them mothers, were clustered in the front room. The cement walls were sparsely decorated with stenciled yellow stars.

With few options but with families counting on them, these women sell their bodies. They know it’s dangerous. They know the risks. But for them the alternative for their families – homelessness, hunger, hopelessness — is worse. PSI tries to keep them safe.

A PSI lab tech is in the room. She covers a table with gauze. She lays out gloves, testing kits for syphilis and HIV and a bio waste receptacle.

Nadege – who once sold her body, but found work through PSI as a health educator — walks to the center of the room. As she speaks, some women take turns getting their blood drawn.

Thank you for your past support of PSI’s work. You are the kind of person who understands why we must help these women live healthier lives and create better futures for their children. Make a tax-deductible donation to fund the efforts of PSI-trained health workers like Nadege. For a short time, your donation will be matched through a $200,000 challenge gift from PSI’s board of directors.

Fedeline, a quiet woman with a shy smile, comes here every morning. She rents her small room for $6 US a day and gets paid $5 per client.

She works to take care of her son Widney and pay for his education. But she admits that she’s terrified each time she sees a client. She says, “You don’t know if the guy is a good guy or a bad guy. You just have to do it.”

She’s also afraid of STIs like HIV. “If you don’t use a condom, you can get viruses. But we have Nadege. She comes and does the tests for us. She’s one of us.”

At PSI, we believe that every person deserves a chance to live a healthy life. We go into hot spots like brothels and provide HIV testing and counseling free of charge. Preventing illness among women like Fedeline is imperative to a healthy community.

Support this important work. For a short time, your donation will go twice as far through this generous challenge match.

Thank you.

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd is a celebrated American actress and humanitarian. She became an ambassador for PSI in 2002 and served as a board member from 2004 to 2013.

Our 7 Favorite #NGO Vine Videos of the Year

There were really powerful and poignant Vine videos that were published by NGOs, foundations, and nonprofits this year. Even though adding Vine into their social media repertoire hasn’t hit a tipping point within the nonprofit community yet, we still believe Vine is an effective medium to convey short, but impactful messages.

Here are our seven favorite Vine videos of the year — in no particular order.

Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation always works hard to push forth messaging about the lack of access to sanitation around the world. This Vine video was yet another way to tell people about the global toilet problem on a medium where there was a 639% increase in teen users last year.

UNICEF South Sudan

Seeing children in South Sudan enjoying their life in a safe space is enough to make anyone’s day especially now that the United Nations announced that they are reducing its peacekeeping force amid increased violence.

92nd Street Y

To point a spotlight on the global water problem and the amount of time women spend collecting and carrying water every day, Hallie Tamez, the Associate Director of Major Gifts at WaterAid America carried a 40 pound jerrycan full of water throughout the streets of Manhattan in their #Steps4All campaign.

UNICEF

UNICEF does a great job of using Vine! During the height of the #bringbackourgirls campaign, UNICEF created this video to show how important it is to keep this movement alive.

UNICEF

We all know that vaccines work, but UNICEF showed us how they work in this quick stop motion Vine video. Diseases stay at bay when children are given vaccines, one of the most effective interventions against children under five deaths.

DFID

It’s no wonder Ebola health workers were afforded Time magazine’s Person of the Year accolades. They put their lives at risk every day to save people who are infected with the highly infectious disease. In this campaign DFID showed the medics behind the masks who are working in Sierra Leone.

Save the Children

Allowing people to tell their own stories is ideal when we think about voices from the field. Save the Children gave a platform for these Syrian teenagers to tell their stories from the Zaatari refuge camp in Jordan.

What were your favorite Vine videos of the year?