This year’s World Malaria Report finds that both incidence and deaths attributed to malaria have declined sharply since 2000. The report finds that as coverage of critical preventive and treatment measures has expanded over the past decade, global malaria mortality rates have decreased by 45 percent and incidence rates have declined by 29 percent. These measures have contributed to major gains in child survival, with deaths among children under the age of 5 declining by 54 percent since 2000. In fact, according to the report, of an estimated 3.3 million deaths averted since 2000, 3 million have been children living in sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest burden of malaria.
Author Archives: Maternal Health Task force
Guest Post by Neal Lesh, Chief Strategy Officer at Dimagi Since 2008, Dimagi has helped organizations in 30 countries set up mobile projects with CommCare, an open source mobile platform that supports frontline workers (FLWs). CommCare is actively being used by over 130 frontline programs across numerous development sectors. One of the most compelling and common uses is to support FLWs who provide vital maternal health services such as registering clients, keeping track of their antenatal care visits, counseling them on the importance of delivery in a facility and calculating due dates of expectant mothers. Thanks to support from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, Dimagi will launch at least 40 new frontline programs in 2013 to use CommCare in India alone, a majority of which are focused on maternal health. Technology is never the whole answer, but can be an essential component of empowering FLWs and improving the maternal health services they offer.
As we wrote last week, the MHTF is looking forward to hosting “Improving maternal health: Insights from around the world,” an event to celebrate our year two collection of new research on maternal health. The event will be held tomorrow, December 11 at the Leadership Studio at the Harvard School of Public Health, from 11:00 am-12:30pm EST. The event will feature presentations by several of the authors featured in the Year 2 collection discussion, as well as discussion of some of the highlights from the series, which had the theme “Maternal health is women’s health.” If you would like to attend the event in person, email Jessica Christian at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you cannot attend in person, we hope that you will tune in to the live stream of the event online, and join the discussion on Twitter: we’ll be live tweeting with hashtag #MHTFPLOS.
The Maternal Health Task Force is excited to announce the launch of Tech4MH, a blog series that will focus on technologies that hold promise for meeting the challenges of delivering maternal health care in low resource settings. The series will feature posts from product designers, health technology and programming experts, and donors on innovations. Posts will highlight the role that guest bloggers see for new technologies overcoming barriers that leave too many women without the quality care they need during pregnancy and delivery. By Yogeeta Manglani, Research Assistant, Knowledge Management Team Recently, The New York Times profiled a mechanic in Argentina, Jorge Odon, who invented a low-cost instrument to ease assisted vaginal deliveries.
Today, The Lancet launched a special issue featuring the Global health 2035: a world converging within a generation, a report by the Lancet’s Commission on Investing in Health which lays out a vision for dramatically improving health and reducing disparities in health by 2035. The report follows up on the seminal Investing in Health, the 1993 World Development Report, offering a more comprehensive view and even stronger evidence of the economic case for investments in health, with both an agenda for future action and a review of the evidence of major achievements in improving health since the 1993 WDR was published. From the “Global health 2035″ report: A unique characteristic of our generation is that collectively we have the financial and the ever-improving technical capacity to reduce infectious, child, and maternal mortality rates to low levels universally by 2035, to achieve a “grand convergence” in health. With enhanced investments to scale up health technologies and systems, these rates in most low-income and middle-income countries would fall to those presently seen in the best-performing middle-income countries. Achievement of convergence would prevent about 10 million deaths in 2035 across low-income and lower-middle-income countries relative to a scenario of stagnant investments and no improvements in technology.
Image credit: Jack Zalium, Flickr Written by: Kate Mitchell, Maternal Health Task Force The Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and PLOS Medicine are committed to creating a platform for sharing critical evidence for approaches to improving maternal health around the world. The two organizations are also committed to ensuring that this important evidence is free and accessible for all. Last week, the two organizations published a joint editorial and call for papers in PLOS Medicine for the third year of the special collection of open-access research on maternal health, themed Integrating health care to meet the needs of the mother–infant pair. The editorial and call for papers mark the third year of partnership between the MHTF and PLOS Medicine.
This post was written by Tamil Kendall, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Women and Health Initiative Globally, HIV and complications of childbearing are the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age. The epicenter of poor maternal health outcomes associated with HIV is sub-Saharan Africa, where 90% of pregnant women living with HIV reside. In this region, women with HIV are six to eight times more likely to die during pregnancy and the postpartum period than HIV-negative women, approximately a quarter of maternal deaths are due to HIV, and WHO estimates that maternal mortality has actually increased in eight countries with high HIV prevalence over the past 20 years. Addressing the intersections between HIV and maternal health in sub-Saharan Africa is necessary to make good on international and country commitments to end preventable maternal mortality and achieve an AIDS-free generation. Fortunately, we know what some of the problems are and how to address them: In 2012, only 49% of pregnant African women were tested for HIV—scaling-up voluntary HIV counseling and testing to reach 90% of women attending prenatal care is needed to support women to access treatment for their own health and to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV
In “How evolution of the human brain shaped women’s sexual and reproductive health,” an article published recently in Reproductive Biology Insights, Mahmoud Fathalla explores the ways that biological dimensions of human evolution have contributed to reproductive risks – but also their responses. For example, he notes that assistance during childbirth was just one practice that emerged in response to the evolution of human biology, pointing out that: “If the human female tries to catch the baby’s head herself, and to ease it out, she may break its neck. This is why midwifery may have been the oldest human profession. Birth attendance, however, carried the risk of infection in the days before asepsis, anti-sepsis, and antibiotics.” He continues, pointing out that while women have continually borne the brunt of many poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes, the evolution of the human brain and the scientific advances it has enabled have offered many advances for women’s health. For example, when it comes to maternal mortality, Dr.
Guest post by Priya Agrawal, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers As an OB/GYN who has worked in dozens of developing countries, I have seen firsthand what it’s like to give birth in places where resources are strapped and conditions are bleak. I’ve seen the way women struggle to gather the money needed to give birth at a facility. I’ve seen women walk miles – while in labor no less – to reach the closest health clinic or hospital. I’ve seen women get to a facility only to find that it’s overcrowded, understaffed or lacking in critical medicines and supplies. And for all these reasons, I’ve had the misfortune of seeing women die in pregnancy and childbirth, their deaths often hand tallied on the walls of health facilities, if counted by the system at all
This week, The Lancet launched a series on the remarkable progress and remaining challenges for improving health in Bangladesh, focusing on what The Lancet’s Bangladesh study team calls the Bangladesh paradox: remarkable progress on health- n spite of persistent economic hardship. In a commentary that highlights the country’s commitment to gender equity, economist Amartya Sen argues, “It is important to understand how a country that was extremely poor a few decades ago, and is still very poor, can make such remarkable accomplishments particularly in the field of health, but also in social transformation in general.” Along with the remarkable health gains in Bangladesh, the series also highlights critical challenges. As The Lancet’s Pamela Das and Richard Horton write: “This is a story not only of unusual success, but also one that describes the frailties and challenges that lie ahead as the country charts a course towards universal health coverage.” Among the major issues that articles in the series tackle are the persistent challenges for improving health in the country’s growing urban slums. In one article, authors Kaosar Afsana and Syed Shaba Wahid of BRAC point out that in urban slums: Many women die in slums during pregnancy and childbirth. Mortality of children younger than 5 years in slums is almost double that in rural areas. Two-thirds of these deaths could be avoided if timely, appropriate services were available
In this month’s edition of the web seminar series organized by our colleagues at IDEAS, Dr. Tanya Marchant, IDEAS Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology will lead a session on writing a scientific paper for peer review publications. The seminar will offer tips for key elements in the development of a research paper, including crafting key messages, identifying target journals and working through the peer review process. It will be held tomorrow, November 20, at 9:30 GMT and can be accessed online here. As with all seminars in the series, the seminar will be recorded and available for viewing on the IDEAS resources page
Young Champions 2013 Over the course of the last nine months, the Young Champions have each designed projects focused on a specific maternal health challenge. While conducting work in Nigeria, Ethiopia, India and Mexico, the Young Champions have dealt first-hand with the challenges of implementing their projects in their home countries. They have been documenting their progress on the Young Champions blog. Each year, millions of women worldwide give birth without the help of a trained health worker. In Bulakori, Nigeria, Young Champion Ashiru Adamu helped a woman give birth to a healthy baby boy
Guest post by Alison Chatfield, Project Manager at the Women & Health Initiative, on behalf of the International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century (INTERGROWTH-21st) Every year, 15 million babies are born too soon – that’s 1 in every 10 births. Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn deaths globally, affecting every country; it’s the leading cause of newborn deaths in the U.S. and many other high-income countries, but the burden disproportionately affects Africa and South Asia, where 60% of the world’s preterm births occur. On World Prematurity Day, it is important to highlight areas where important progress has been made for preterm babies and identify some emerging priorities for improving the quality and effectiveness of their care, especially for the parts of the world most affected by preterm death and disability. An important progress point is an improved definition of prematurity that shifted from a weight-based, to a gestational-age based, focus. Earlier definitions of prematurity used weight (i.e.