Tag Archives: World Health Organization

16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence #16Days

Through December 10 USAID is spearheading a global call to action over the course of 16 days to speak out against gender-based violence. You may not know that 1 in 3 women and girls will be abused, beaten or coerced into sex? Or, that abuse of women reaches as high as 70 percent in some countries. Or, that 42 percent of women who have been abused have sustained injuries because of the abuse. These stats shared by USAID and the World Health Organization are real and pertinent and need to be changed.

During these next two weeks you can join the global chorus of voices against gender-based violence by following the #16Days hashtag. You can also visit the USAID site dedicated to this effort at www.usaid.gov/16-days where you will find a plethora of information, reports, blog posts, and a calendar of events all pertaining to activism against gender-based violence.

Also be sure to follow @USAID on Twitter to read gender-based violence tweets and share them with your followers. Here are some #16Days tweets that are particularly interesting.

Why We Need World Prematurity Day

One of the world’s greatest tragedies is when babies are born too soon. Every day a mother around the world experiences the heartache of delivering her baby before 37 weeks gestation whether she is walking on foot to a rural health facility in Bangladesh, delivering her baby in a hut in the lush countryside of Kenya, or rushing in a yellow cab to an award-winning hospital in New York City. All three of these mothers – seemingly a world away and cultures apart– are bound by the ubiquity of premature birth. In fact, 15 million babies are born premature each year. That is slightly more than the total population of Cambodia, if you can imagine that.

Premature birth does not choose its favorites and knows no borders. This is why, for women around the world, there is a singular day designated to honor them and pledges to raise awareness and solutions about the global problem of premature births.

Celebrated on November 17 each year, the third annual World Prematurity Day shines a much-needed spotlight on premature births to improve the birth circumstances for millions of women around the world who lose their babies or deliver babies who will experience severe disabilities or slow growth because they were not born full-term.

Premature deaths are the second largest killer of children under the age of five only resigning the backseat to pneumonia which the World Health Organization says takes the lives of 1.3 million children annually. A staggering 1.1 million children die from being born prematurely every year. Without consistent, global intervention premature births have the unfortunate potential of rapidly become the number one killer of children in the world, eclipsing pneumonia.

The global neonatal mortality rate is alarmingly high and yet data can never capture the true loss experienced by mothers and families. According to the March of Dimes a preterm baby dies every 30 seconds, but the loss is deeply personal. You can read stories about premature births on the World Prematurity Day Facebook page or share your own. And even for those babies who do not die from being born preterm their development is typically hampered like that of Allison’s son, a little boy I wrote about last year who is experiencing developmental delays because he was born at 26 weeks.

Why are babies born prematurely?

There are still many scientific question marks surrounding the causes of premature births. Some reasons include infections, diabetes, high blood pressure and genetics according to the groundbreaking report Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Births that was published in May by Save the Children, the March of Dimes, the World Health Organization and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health.  These aforementioned causes do not explain all reasons for premature births, to be sure. That is why additional funding and country commitments have been pledged to provide more detailed data in order to determine the root causes of premature births in order to prevent them.

While South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa see 60 percent of preterm births each year surprisingly the United States also has a high rate of preterm births although it is dropping significantly. The preterm birth rate in the US is at a decade low, 11.7 percent, according to the March of Dimes 2013 Premature Birth Report Card. While the number is decreasing the United States still received a “C” for its prematurity rate.

This World Prematurity Day stand in solidarity with those around the world who have been directly affected by a preterm birth and those who fight endlessly to make sure every  baby is born full-term.

Visit www.facebook.com/WorldPrematurityDay to get involved.

This article originally ran on Impatient Optimists

Can $1 Really Save a Life?

Can $1 really save a life? Global malaria eradication NGO, Malaria No More, says yes.

With Power of One (Po1), Malaria No More’s new, innovative campaign that takes the power of people’s desire to do good coupled with a low price point to online and mobile philanthropy, Malaria No More is on a mission to close the perpetual gaps between malaria testing and treatment in some of the countries where children are hardest hit by malaria.

Malaria is one of the leading causes of child deaths in developing countries. In fact, 330 billion people live in malaria prone areas and 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa according to the World Health Organization. A more drastic fact is a child dies every minute from malaria, however these deaths are wholly preventable with early diagnosis and adequate treatment with malaria medicines.

Health Worker - Macha Malaria Institute
A malaria rapid diagnostic test being administered to a volunteer at Macha Malaria Research Institute in Macha, Zambia.

The problem is many children under five who live in remote areas in Africa don’t get diagnosed with malaria and treated quickly enough. Therein lies the big tragedy: a lack of access to malaria testing and medication causes 1400 deaths a day.

Through Power of One, anyone can donate $1 to save the life of a child. $1, according to Malaria No More, will provide testing and medication to a single child through the help of private sector partners such as Novartis and Alere . Malaria No More seeks to reach 3 million children in Zambia, the first country where the Power of One campaign will be rolled out. Zambia has already shown successes in its malaria control efforts through increased rapid diagnostic testing, increased bed net allocations, as well as through mobile rapid reporting systems that allow volunteer frontline health workers to report malaria cases as well as the number of or need for more malaria medical supplies in the most remote areas of the country.

To learn more and donate, visit  www.Po1.org and watch the quick video introduction about how your investment of $1 will save a child’s life.

Family Planning Conversations During Women Deliver #WD2013

The second day of the Women Deliver conference was led by robust conversations and discussions about family planning. Wednesday’s events began with the plenary session: Global Progress on Family Planning—Putting Women at the Heart of the Global Health Agenda which was opened by Melinda Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Increased momentum has quickly developed worldwide for a global family planning effort to ensure more women have voluntary access to contraceptives since last year’s London Family Planning Summit.

The consensus throughout all of the family planning discussions (you can watch via Livestream) is that several important, systematic steps must first be achieved in order to ensure women and girls have access to adequate reproductive health including:

  • bringing on more financial commitments in order to fund family planning commodities and services to reach an additional 120 million women
  • ensuring that commitments are being honored
  • creating iron-tight distribution channels in order to make sure women in even the most remote areas have access to family planning services, contraceptives
  • engaging men and boys in the process in order to make sure that access to family planning does not become stalled in local areas or even on country or regional bases

During the Plenary Lunch: Developing Countries’ Strategies Towards Reaching the FP2020 Goals – Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister of Health, Ethiopia, Matia Kasaija, Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Uganda and Dr. Mojisola Odeku, Director, Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative had a robust discussion about their respective countries’ work toward increased access to contraceptives.


I have to agree with Dr. Admasu, Ethiopia’s Health Minister. On a recent trip to Ethiopia I saw adequate supplies and information about contraceptives and family planning at every health post I visited.

Family Planning - Ethiopia




  • If you want to know individual country’s family planning coverage and unmet need visit the World Health Organization’s recently released World Health Statistics 2013.
  • If you want to know all of the commitments from the London Summit on Family Planning visit Family Planning 2020.

Photo: UN Photo

The Narrowing Health Gap Between Rich and Poor Countries

The World Health Organization released its annual World Health Statistics report. In the report the WHO looked at all of its global regions to see how countries fared in various global data stats  including maternal and child mortality, life expectancy, and health coverage as examples.

“Intensive efforts to achieve the MDGs have clearly improved health for people all over the world,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. “But with less than 1000 days to go to reach the MDG deadline, it is timely to ask if these efforts have made a difference in reducing the unacceptable inequities between the richest and poorest countries.”

Since I am in India with Nicole Melancon to visit some of Mom Bloggers for Social Good’s key partners I have decided to look at India’s health statistics from the report. Overall, however, globally the shift between rich and poor countries is narrowing, but not quickly enough.


Life Expectancy for Both Sexes: 

1990: 58

2011: 65


  • Stillbirth Rate in 2009: 22 per 1000 livebirths
  • Neonatal Mortality Rate: 47 per 1000 live births in 1990; 32 per 1000 live births in 2011
  • Under Five Mortality Rate: 114 per 1000 live births in 1990; 88 per 1000 live births in 2000;  61 per 1000 live births in 2011
  • Specific Causes of Mortality: In India pneumonia and prematurity claims the greatest lives for children under the age of five

Infectious Diseases: By far the greatest infectious disease in India is tuberculosis with 1,323,949 cases in 2011.

Health Coverage: India has a 21% unmet need for family planning and 55% contraceptive coverage. India has 75% antenatal care coverage with one visit. That percentage drops sharply to 50% with four visits. Only 58% of women in India give birth with a skilled birth attendant.

You can read more health statistics for each country at http://apps.who.int.

Photo: United Nations