Kenya Maternity Fee Waiver is Great – But There are Still Gaps in the Policy

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Kenya’s pregnancy policy hasn’t addressed the inequalities between rich and poor.
Shutterstock

Estelle Monique Sidze, African Population and Health Research Center

About 21 pregnant women die every day in Kenya due to complications from childbirth. That’s equivalent to two 10-seater commuter micro minibuses, known as matatus, crashing every day with the loss of all the passengers on board.

Pregnant women in Kenya die because they either do not receive appropriate care during pregnancy or are unable to deliver with the help of skilled health attendants.

Continue reading Kenya Maternity Fee Waiver is Great – But There are Still Gaps in the Policy

Flooding from Hurricane Harvey causes a host of public health concerns

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As many people have had to wade through floodwaters, they need to be aware of the risk of infection and disease from contaminated waters.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Neil S. Grigg, Colorado State University

The historic rainfall dumped by Hurricane Harvey has already led to deaths by drownings and the destruction of many homes.

Houston’s drinking water system is being stressed by overflowing water reservoirs and dams, breached levees and possible problems at treatment plants and in the water distribution system. Failure of drinking water systems could lead to water shortages.

As a civil engineer who has studied how flooding affects water systems, I also see a number of public health concerns. Raw sewage, dead bodies in the water and release of dangerous chemicals into the floodwaters could lead to the spread of disease through contact with contaminated water and to infection through open wounds.

And because Houston has at least a dozen sites that have been designated environmentally hazardous, there is a risk of petrochemical contamination. Indeed, companies have reported that pollutants from refineries have already been released.

As if those are not bad enough, the “unprecedented” amount of water leads to the perfect breeding opportunities for mosquitoes, which are vectors of Zika and many other infectious diseases.

Continue reading Flooding from Hurricane Harvey causes a host of public health concerns

Finnish Fashion Designer Creates Maternity Wear for 12-Year-Olds to Highlight Worldwide Child Pregnancy

Child pregnancy is a worldwide blight. Seven million girls in developing countries under the age of 18 become pregnant every year meaning that they have to grow up too soon, put an end to their education, look for adequate healthcare that they can afford, earn money somehow, possibly marry a much older suitor, and figure out a life for her and her child. 11 percent of all worldwide births are by girls between the ages of 15 – 19 according to the World Health Organization. These pregnancies cause far too many maternal and newborn deaths across the globe.

To bring awareness to the number of girls who become pregnant each year in lower-and-middle-income countries, Finnish fashion designer Paola Suhonen created a collection of six, brightly-hued maternity dresses with childhood motifs for 12-year-olds. If this sounds a bit sensational, you’re correct. Suhonen’s maternity collection is solely designed to show the world that too many young girls become pregnant each year because they often don’t have other life options but to become pregnant and are often not taught proper sexual and reproductive health education. It’s a sad state of affairs to be sure, but it happens every day. In fact, 5,500 girls under the age of 15 become pregnant daily.

Working in collaboration with Plan Finland as an issue raising endeavor, Suhonen traveled to Zambia with renown photographer Meeri Koutaniemi to recreate what would be a regular fashion shoot, but instead featured an expectant child mother, Fridah, as her primary model.

“I designed a collection that I wish is not needed and that I don’t want to sell,” said Suhonen. ” This campaign brings together two very important issues – children’s and women’s rights. I hope that people will wake up to the circumstances in which millions of girls live in developing countries.”

Plan Finland has created a thorough FAQ page to answer any questions about the ethics of this campaign. You can donate here.

Why Kenya Needs to Adopt ‘Milk Banks’ to Reduce Infant Deaths

Elizabeth Kimani-Murage, Brown University

Mother’s milk has an enormous impact on child survival. While in Kenya it has improved over the past decade, the number of children who die before five years remains significant. The rate has decreased from 115 per 1000 live births in 2003 to 52 in 2014.

Neighbors Rwanda (2008), Tanzania (2012) and Uganda (2011) have recorded 50, 66 and 65 deaths per 1,000 live births for children below five years, respectively.

The main causes of childhood deaths are infections, preterm births and lack of sufficient oxygen, or asphyxia.

Breastfeeding infants on breast milk alone until they are six months old has been shown to reduce child mortality. When mothers can’t provide their own milk, the next best alternative is donor milk from other women. Access to “human milk banks” gives vulnerable infants, without access to their mother’s own milk, a healthy start to life.

The milk bank concept was initiated in Vienna in 1909 and was preceded by a century old practice of wet nursing – a mother breastfeeding another mother’s child.

Since then, over 500 human milk banks have been established in more than 37 countries globally in developed and developing countries. The pioneer countries include Brazil, South Africa, India, Canada, Japan and France.

Continue reading Why Kenya Needs to Adopt ‘Milk Banks’ to Reduce Infant Deaths

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