Tag Archives: Developing country

The Critical Stance on Raising Vaccine Awareness Abroad and at Home

By Lisi Martinez Lotz PhD, Program Director, Vaccine Ambassadors

Vaccine Ambassadors was created by parents and healthcare professionals in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of immunizations for all children, whether living in an area where vaccines are part of routine care or where this resource is far less common. By becoming Vaccine Ambassadors during their clinic visit, parents are able to give to the global community, while also engaging in a conversation with their pediatrician on the value of immunizations.

Our program speaks to the issue of under vaccination. In many areas of the world lack of access leads to low vaccination rates, while in others it is a direct consequence of misinformation. Vaccine Ambassadors offers parents a meaningful way to make an impact in the lives of children who otherwise would go without life-saving vaccines, while also highlighting the need for vaccines in our local communities.

Polio vaccination in POC 3 at UN House
Polio Vaccination Campaign in South Sudan Polio vaccination at the UN-House Protection of Civilians (PoC) 3 site in Juba, South Sudan. The Ministry of Health of the Republic of South Sudan is conducting the fourth and last round of its national immunization campaign for 2014, with the support of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and working with local non-governmental organization Magna. The campaign is targeting children aged 0 – 5 years and aims to immunize 2.4 million children nationwide. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Continue reading The Critical Stance on Raising Vaccine Awareness Abroad and at Home

The Rising Educational Obstacles for sub-Saharan Children

Invest in One ChildWhen children who live in poor countries think about being educated there are many hurdles they face first before stepping foot in the classroom from the sheer proximity to a school to school fees to the cost of a uniform. It adds up quickly and means that many children remain uneducated in developing countries because of their family’s lack of financial resources. Everyone has a basic right to education, but that basic right oftentimes goes unfulfilled. There is no doubt about it: education transforms lives. This is true around the world, but in countries where the only means of rising out of poverty is through education the stakes are particularly high.

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The Education for All global initiative that was first created in 1990 says that every child has a right to free primary school. There has been progress over the past decade. In sub-Saharan African children in school rose from 59 percent to 77 percent, but there are still millions more children who are not enrolled in school at all despite increased global enrollment. For example, Nigeria has the worst percentage of children who are not in school. According to UNESCO that number has risen from 7.4 million Nigerian children that are not in school to 10. 5 million since 1999.

Opportunity International, an organization that provides microfinance loans to help people rise out of poverty in developing nations, has recognized that there is a fundamental problem with access to education for children in sub-Saharan Africa where parents typically have to pay 30% of their children’s school fees. Their program,  Invest in One Child, asks donors to help send a child to school for less than $1 a day. Working in Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, and Rwanda, Opportunity International provides access to loans for parents who desperately need money to pay for their children’s school fees. An individual family can borrow up to $240 per child per year.

Through Invest in One Child you can invest in one child going to school for one year. Here’s how the donation flow works:

To learn more and to invest in a child’s education in sub-Saharan Africa visit opportunity.org/give/project/child.

Photos courtesy of Opportunity International

Reporting from Zambia with the International Reporting Project

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I will be reporting from Zambia as an International Reporting Project Zambia Fellow starting on July 15. I will be in Africa with nine stellar new media journalists. We all have our own beats and will report on different angles about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. I personally will report on how these infectious diseases acutely affect mothers and children.

You can follow my work on the Gates Foundation blog, Impatient Optimists. You can follow all of our work at the #ZambiaHealth hashtag. You can also follow my personal observations at jjamesonline.com.

Photo:

Children sing at the Fountain of Hope centre in Lusaka, Zambia, during a visit from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The centre helps to rehabilitate thousands of children living on the streets of the Zambian capital.
25 February 2012
Lusaka, Zambia

Save the Children Releases Important New Breastfeeding Report

SUPERFOOD-COVERSave the Children released a brand-new breastfeeding report, Superfood for Babies, that says 830,000 babies’ lives can be saved worldwide if they are breastfed within the critical first hour after birth. In the first hour after birth babies benefit from drinking colostrum, the most effective and potent natural immune system boosting substance on the planet. Babies who are breastfed within the very first hour after birth are three times more likely to survive than if they are breastfed a day after birth.

Breastfeeding is critical to the survival of children in the world’s most income poor countries. More importantly, immediate breastfeeding is unquestioningly crucial to a baby’s survival.

Mothers at Health Center, Ethiopia

While advocating for mothers to breastfeed within the first hour after delivering their babies sounds easy enough, breastfeeding rates have stagnated and only 40% of mothers breastfeed globally. Save the Children has documented four barriers that hinder mothers’ ability to breastfeed exclusively at least for the first six months of life.

Four Major Barriers to Immediate Breastfeeding

1. Cultural and community pressure – Even though breastfeeding is one of the most natural gifts a mother can give her child cultural customs prevent some mothers from immediate and sustained breastfeeding. For example, in India some believe the first milk, colostrum, should be expressed out of a mother’s breast before breastfeeding. That said, some customs are detrimental to the health of babies and their survival.

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2. Global health worker shortage – Across the developing world, there is a major shortage of frontline health workers that must be addressed. When health workers help deliver a baby, a mother is two times more likely to breastfeed during the first hour after delivery than when giving birth without a skilled birth attendant.

3. Lack of maternity legislation – Women in most low-income countries do not benefit from protections and legislation to help them breastfeed. Out of the 36 low-income countries that Save the Children looked at, Vietnam was the only country that provided adequate maternity leave (6 weeks).

4. Aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes – The global baby food market is currently worth $36 billion meaning that mothers are often aggressively marketed to to buy their products, especially breast-milk substitutes. In Save the Children’s China survey – 40% of mothers interviewed had been contacted directly by baby food company representatives. Additionally, in Pakistan, 1/3 of health professionals said they’d been visiting by a representative of breast-milk substitute companies and 1/10 of health professionals said their health facility had received free samples of formula, nipple or bottles, according to the report.

Nestlé and Danone own the lion share of the breast-milk substitute market. The poster below was snapped in a maternity ward in an Ethiopian hospital. What is particularly bad about this advertisement is it was in the NICU.

Formula Marketing in Bishoftu Hospital

In Superfood for Babies Save the Children also found that women who are uneducated are 19% more likely to not initiate breastfeeding and 13% less likely to sustain breastfeeding with their babies. Those who are most uneducated tend to rely on traditional customs and those who have more education tend to be a part of the workforce and have increased opportunity to see formula marketing and also tend to have low breastfeeding numbers.

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Brazil – An Example in Reducing Child Mortality through Increasing Breastfeeding

Brazil has cut infant mortality by 50% over the past twenty years through an emphasis on breastfeeding. Every maternity hospital in Brazil has a human milk bank. Isla Fisher traveled to Brazil with Save the Children to document the amazing progress of the nation.

Call to Action

Save the Children is urging everyone who believes in increased child health to sign a petition urging new Secretary of State John Kerry to fight for newborn nutrition and the renewal of the 1,000 Days Call to Action that is set to expire in a few, short months. Visit savethechildren.org/superfood to make your voice heard.

Photos: Mom Bloggers for Social Good/ Jennifer James