Category Archives: Maternal Health

Botswana Receives First White Space Telemedicine Service to Reach Rural Populations

One of the beautiful aspects of Africa is its beautiful, wide expanses. All over the continent you will be awed by how far-reaching your eyes can see especially when traveling through its spectacular countryside. But as much as it is beautiful, the size of Africa also poses a significant problem because without modern infrastructure, including the Internet, and transport to major cities, those who live in the deepest, far-reaching rural areas are not privy to the best medical care they can receive.

In Botswana, this is about to change.

In partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, Microsoft, the University of Botswana, and other global partners, the Botswana-University Hub (BUP) has launched a new project, “Project Kgolagano,” to bring telemedicine to rural areas in the country to help diagnose maternal health cases as well as HIV, cervical cancer, and TB cases.

Using TV white spaces (unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum) Internet broadband is able to reach even the most remote villages in developing countries. In fact, it has been reported that Microsoft and Google are both chasing white spaces in Africa where only 16 percent of the continent’s population is online. This is where solar power can be game-changing to keep Africa online despite its energy shortcomings. Just look at Kenya where Microsoft helped provide broadband Internet in rural areas even when electricity was nonexistent or very scarce.

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How Four Organizations Use Storytelling and Data to Highlight Women’s Health and Global Progress

Over the past few days several organizations have focused on International Women’s Day by releasing reports on the progress of women and girls in a variety of sectors through interactive web sites, data, as well as maps. The following have stood out during the week.

Doctors Without Borders

Women’s health care is critical in many low- and middle-income countries largely because women as well as girls continue to die in numbers that are not only too high, but oftentimes unnecessary. For example, 800 women still die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable. And, 13 percent of the 22 million unsafe abortions result in maternal deaths. To convey this and other health data, Doctors Without Borders created a robust, multimedia online project, Because Tomorrow Needs Herwhere health workers and patients alike share their life experiences either administering care in low-resource settings, or seeking quality care with the burden of heavy obstacles like transportation, costs, and proximity to a health facility.

Through eight interactive chapters with compelling first-person accounts Doctors Without Borders highlights important women’s health issues including maternal health, fistulas, unsafe abortions, and sexual violence among others.

“It is unconscionable that in many parts of the world today, women have no access to quality obstetric care, when providing it is not complicated,” said Séverine Caluwaerts, an MSF obstetrician/gynecologist. “High impact, yet low-cost interventions by trained health staff can have a dramatic impact on maternal mortality.”

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TOMS Bags for Safe Maternity

Photo: Paolo Patruno – www.birthisadream.org

Last week TOMS announced its new one for one bag collection for both men and women that was specifically designed and created for safe motherhood. Every day 800 women die from pregnancy complications or during delivery. 99 percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. TOMS bag purchases help hand-selected partners provide safe birth kits, training for midwives, and safer deliveries. With proper care, women are 80 percent less likely to develop infections that can lead to death right after delivery when she delivers with a skilled birth attendant.

The three partners TOMS chose to receive maternal health support are UNFPA, BRAC, and Ayzh.

To purchase a TOMS bag for maternal health visit www.toms.com/women/womens-bags for women and www.toms.com/men/mens-bags for men.

 

Toms Bags for Safe Maternity

International Women’s Day Puts Spotlight on Global Poverty, Gender Inequalities

International Women’s Day Twitter Chat

We will join Global Impact to discuss these aforementioned women’s and girls’ issues on Friday, March 13 at 1 PM EST. Join us using #HerDay2015.

In Ormoc, Philippines women tend to take on village leadership roles to ensure children under five get their scheduled vaccinations and routine check-ups. These women also provide medical information to mothers and families who live deep in the rural parts of Ormoc and have a harder time attaining health services.

1 billion victims of violence

These village leaders are, for all intents and purposes, the lifelines for these rural families to health care. In addition to village leaders, rural health units staffed by volunteer health workers and nutrition scholars are charged with providing essential health care and information to families who otherwise would go without medical care.

“Being a leader makes me happy, but it is difficult,” said Ludivinia Perez, a village leader in Ormoc, Philippines on Leyte island. “I feel good about it. What makes it difficult is if I don’t have enough funds and resources.”

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9 Last-Minute Virtual Valentine’s Day Gifts for Good

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If you’re like many of us you may have waited until the very last-minute to buy your loved ones Valentine’s Day gifts. While you can still run out and buy a wealth of flowers, cards, and chocolates, here are nine virtual Valentines’s Day gifts you can give that also give back.

Oxfam Unwrapped: Oxfam recommends giving duos of animals for Valentine’s Day: a pair of chickens ($18), a pair of sheep ($80) or a pair of goats ($100).  Send lovely animals to families in need.

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation: EGPAF is asking its lovely supporters to send Valentine’s Day e-cards to spread awareness about pediatric AIDS. It costs nothing, but the gift of awareness is always key. Click here to spread the love.

Midwives for Haiti: We all believe in the power of saving mothers’ lives. This Valentine’s Day donate to Midwives for Haiti and help them stock their medicinal chest with life-saving medicines for the entire year. Donate with love to Midwives for Haiti.

Vaccine Ambassadors: There is no doubt that vaccines save lives. Vaccines are one of the best ways to show love for children around the world. Buy vaccines with love for children whose lives can be saved by this easy intervention. $10 vaccinates 19 children against the measles.

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Merck and WHO Partner to Curb Postpartum Hemorrhage Deaths

Earlier this month I wrote about Uganda’s move to use misoprostol for women who experience postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) during childbirth or immediately after delivery. PPH is the leading cause of maternal mortality for women around the world. 800 women die every day from complications during pregnancy and delivery; that is two mothers a minute.

Misoprostol, it has been found, is effective because it will stop a woman’s bleeding, can be taken in pill form and can be stored at hotter temperatures. Oxytocin, which is the gold standard for stopping PPH must be stored in cold temperatures to be effective. However, in low-resource settings electricity can be touch and go or altogether nonexistent.

Last year Merck announced that they have partnered with the World Health Organization as well as Ferring Pharmaceuticals to test the efficacy in clinical trials of using carbetocin, another medication that can stop PPH, but can be stored in hot and tropical environments.

The clinical trials began this year in 12 countries that included 29,000 women. Through its Merck for Mothers initiative, Merck has partnered with organizations in the United States and abroad to reduce maternal mortality around the world.

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Bill and Melinda Gates’ 15-Year Bet For a Better World

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Each January Bill and Melinda Gates release their Annual Letter. This year they are taking  a bet on the world’s future.

15 years ago the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was started and  there have been substantial improvements in global health and development since then because of its dedication to the world’s poorest people. Now, Bill and Melinda Gates believe even more can be done in the next 15 years.

More Children Will Live and More Diseases Will Be Eradicated

By 2030 Bill and Melinda Gates bet that fewer children will die from preventable disease and more preventable diseases will be eradicated, Africa will be able to feed itself, millions more will gain access to mobile banking and education will be improved by innovative software.

Today, one in 20 children die from preventable diseases. In 2030, Bill and Melinda Gates bet the number of child deaths will come down to one in 40 children. Decreasing that number will take political will from  the hardest hit countries with child mortality, new approaches and programs to keep children and newborns alive, vaccines, better health systems, and funding.

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Africa Will Be Able to Feed Itself

It’s mind-boggling to know that Africa imports $50 billion dollars in food annually. Why? Because African farmers do not produce enough food currently to feed the continent. But due to its massive size and large agrarian societies Bill and Melinda Gates believe Africa will indeed be able to feed itself in 15 years . More training, better seeds, improved fertilizers, and crop rotations will lead to more yields across all of sub-Saharan Africa. That will lead to more money remaining in Africa for national and continent-wide improvements, such as increased funds to improve health systems or provide better training to farmers across the board.

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More People Will Have Access to Mobile Banking 

Currently there are 2.5 billion people who do not have access to a banking account. This means these people aren’t able to keep their assets safe and it proves difficult to borrow money and pay it back seamlessly. Bill and Melinda Gates believes that in 15 years hundreds of millions of people will gain access to a mobile bank account that will change their lives and the way they save, spend, and earn money.

Education Will Improve Due to Software 

While more girls are getting an education around the world there are still too many girls who are left out of school. By 2030 that gender gap in education will sharply close. It is important to educate girls for the following reasons:

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With innovative technology education will be  accessible to millions more helping them leave the cycle of poverty and to improve their lives.

Bill and Melinda Gates are calling on everyone to become Global Citizens and care about these issues. Read 2015 Gates Annual Letter: Our Big Bet for the Future at gatesletter.com.

Zambians Head to the Polls: Candidates’ Stance on Health Care

This morning as most Americans were asleep Zambians headed to the polls to elect either the candidate of the ruling party, Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front founded in 1991 by the late President Michael Sata, or the leading opposition candidate representing the United Party for National Development, Hakainde Hichilema. Political observers say the race is close and there is no definitive leader at this point. Polls close at 6 PM Central African Time Zone.

Zambia one of the leaders on the continent of copper production along with the DRC and both candidates disagree about taxing mining companies that employ many Zambians in the Copper Belt according to Al Jazeera.  A contentious subject, Lungu believes the copper companies should be heavily taxed while Hichilema believes taxes on the companies should not increase which could cause mine closures that could in turn hemorrhage workers. As expected, both candidates have promised increased job creation and more aid to poor, rural Zambians across the country, a move that researchers at the London School of Economics say is key to helping elect African politicians. Most African politicians favored overwhelming urban campaigning to curb urban violence during election time, but have quickly learned that re-election proves difficult without the rural vote.

Hichilema is running to increase the number of frontline health workers and to improve training and respecting health workers. The United Party for National Development’s health provisions range from decreasing taxes on health care and medicines and providing free care to poor Zambians to increasing the number of frontline health workers. Of note, the UPND has placed an emphasis on fighting malaria and HIV/AIDS.

The Patriotic Front has created a Health Services Provision that lays out in six parts how the party will improve Zambia’s health care system starting with every Zambian’s right to quality health care. The Patriotic Front is also committed to better education and working conditions for health workers based on the contents of the Provision.  It  also calls for a realignment of the Mother and Child function.

Health care is an important issue for a country that has a maternal mortality rate of 591 out of 100,000 live births (one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world ) and mortality for children under the age of five is 119 per 1,000 according to UNICEF.

Thus far copper mining, which accounts for more than 86 percent of Zambia’s foreign direct investment and has made Zambia the eighth largest producer of copper, seems to be primary on the political agenda. After the election, only time will tell if health care, particularly maternal and child health, can compete with the copper industry and job creation.

Photo: www.facebook.com/hakainde.hichilema

 

 

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.

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New Global Projects Measure Newborn Health Interventions #EveryNewborn

Eight million children under the age of five die every year from preventable diseases. Of those eight million deaths, 2.8 million are neonates according to the World Health Organization.  Key interventions like Kangaroo Mother Care, pre-and postnatal care, deliveries in a hospital setting with trained health workers, and exclusive breastfeeding are some proven ways to keep more babies alive.

Two leading researchers, Dr. Joanne Katz, Professor and Associate Chair at the Department of International Health of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Dr. Abdhalah Ziraba, Associate Research Scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center have both won $50,000 from CappSci‘s Data for Life Prize to collect data on scalable, low-cost solutions that have the potential to save lives.

Dr. Katz will study the use of portable ultrasound for expecting mothers in rural Nepal where home births are highly common. A number of risk factors appear during the third trimester that can be detected with the help of portable ultrasound machines, allowing women to seek care and prepare for medical facility-based deliveries.

Dr. Ziraba will study Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for new mothers and neonates in Kenya.  KMC involves immediate skin-to-skin contact of mother and baby, frequent breastfeeding and maternal-infant bonding. The non-medical intervention aims to reduce preterm and underweight deaths, which are often the result of hypothermia and poor nutrition.

“It was most exciting and gratifying to find out that our work identifying pregnant women with problems late in pregnancy needing specialized delivery care using portable ultrasound equipment in rural Nepal had been funded by the Data for Life Prize,” said Dr. Katz. “These are women who usually deliver at home or in facilities that cannot take care of these problems. By knowing in advance about these concerns, they can plan to deliver in a facility with the right staff and equipment to help save their lives and those of their infants.”

ultrasound being done in the home

“While the under-five mortality rates have been reducing in the last 10-15 years in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of babies dying before the age of one month has not been improving. The coverage of interventions for averting these deaths remains low, and more effort is needed in assessing alternatives that can save the lives of preterm and underweight babies. APHRC will utilize this prize to support work aimed at averting death of preterm and underweight babies through a tailored Community level Kangaroo Mother Care intervention in two slums of Nairobi City,” said Dr. Ziraba.

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