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Three World-Changers: Drones, Schools, and Sanitary Pads

This post originally appeared on Humanosphere.On the Pacific archipelago nation of Vanuatu, a “digital humanitarian” has been using drones to carry out a detailed assessment of the damage caused by Cyclone Pam last month.In Rwanda, a young African woman is improving the lives of other young women by the simple act of providing them with locally made sanitary pads so they don’t miss work and school.And in Kenya, a man who grew up in extreme poverty, without formal education, is building schools and fighting poverty and gender inequality in the worst slums of Nairobi. New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof says he might be the next Mandela.All of these young people are trying to change the world in very different ways. Along with at least 50 others, they will be in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, April 23-24 for the fourth annual SwitchPoint, a global gathering organized by IntraHealth International (which I need to disclose is one of my clients).It is part TED talk, part World Economic Forum, and part cultural festival. I hesitate to call Switchpoint a conference because that implies long, boring presentations.

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Aid to poor countries fell, shows report

By the amount spent, overall development assistance increased in 2014. But in real terms it fell by 0.5 percent and less of that money went to the world’s least-developed countries than the year prior, shows the data released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) this week. With development assistance making up more than two-thirds of

TB tuberculosis map wiki

Partnering across Public and Private Sectors to Beat TB in India

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.Every year, nine million people contract tuberculosis (TB). If it takes you five minutes to read this article, 81 people will have contracted TB by the time you finish.TB is a treatable and curable disease. Yet 1.5 million people die from TB every year. Nearly 18% of those deaths and 25% of all new TB cases happen in one country: India, where I live and work.Today marks World TB Day 2015 and, as it was last year, the focus of the event is on reaching the three million people who go undiagnosed, untreated, or unregistered by national TB control programs.Across India there are a ‘missing million’ undiagnosed TB cases. In India, care for TB—both diagnosis and treatment—is made freely available through the public health system.

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3D-Printed Hands, 13-Cent Maxi Pads, and More at SwitchPoint 2015

“When we talk about supporting people with technology, we tend to fetishize both the people and the technology,” said Linda Raftree today. “But the tech we develop isn’t really useful if we don’t include the end users in the process.”Raftree, cofounder of Kurante, and other experts took the stage today for the second and final day of SwitchPoint 2015, produced by IntraHealth International. And Raftree wasn’t the only one to point out that development without dialogue just doesn’t work.Lasting progress takes local partnerships, local buy-in, and local leadership. You can’t use mobile phones to share information fast if you don’t have power or reception, said Merrick Schaefer of the US Agency for International Development—even if mobile phone subscriptions do outnumber the people in the world today.And you can’t solve diarrhea with awkward, ugly water filters that no one wants to use, said Claudia Harner-Jay of PATH—no matter how well they eliminate pathogens.Real, lasting global progress takes local partnerships, local buy-in, and local leadership.Take, for instance, the 13-cent maxi pad.Local, Eco-Friendly, and Yes, It Actually WorksIn Rwanda, the number of women who miss work each month leads to an estimated loss of US$215 in income per woman, per year.


Digital Jedis, Social Entrepreneurs, and the Real Heroes of Global Health

“We can all have an impact,” Kennedy Odede said from the stage today at SwitchPoint 2015. “We can all change lives. When you look around and things are not good, that is the time to act.”Odede knows what he’s talking about. Growing up in Kibera, Kenya—Africa’s largest slum—he spent a lot of time looking around, and seeing that things were not good.”I was a homeless kid,” he said. “I left home


Map of the Day: A new future for the World Bank

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The World Bank’s influence is waning. Some point to the emerging Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as evidence of the body’s declining power, but it is the World Bank’s own projections that illustrate the change. Thirty-six countries will graduate from World Bank loans over the next four years (see the above gif). The World Bank maintains


Penile transplants and ritual male circumcision in Africa

It shouldn’t be going out too far on a limb to say that ritual male circumcision is not, and has never been meant to be, a medical intervention. Certainly in sub-Saharan Africa, where it has generally been meant to be part of a larger rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, questions of safety, hygiene, pain relief or psychological trauma are not typically concerns central to the ritual. If they were, the use of unsterile instruments by non-surgeons on the un-anesthetized would have led to the disappearance of the practice long ago. The ritual is about risk, not safety; it is about testing an initiate’s response to fear, not making the youth feel comfy. And what is more fearful than the threat of a sharp instrument being applied to your private bits


Hold us to account (as long as our copy editor agrees)

On Sunday night while finishing my lecture notes for an upcoming class, I checked my twitter feed and read a somewhat surprising headline: “WHO admits it could not cope”. The tweet linked to a piece from the Guardian article that reported on a newly released statement from the WHO’s leadership on the Ebola outbreak and response. In well written, and uncharacteristically strongly worded language the authors laid out lessons learned, areas for improvement, and commitments from the WHO from this and future outbreaks. I nearly fell off the sofa. It has taken a year, but finally the WHO had finally acknowledged its inability to adequately deal with the outbreak and had admitted its shortcomings


It’s time we had that talk.

This week, Dr Alessandro Demaio writes from his home country of Australia. A ‘downunder’ perspective with a global relevance – he asks why we aren’t talking more, about the challenges we all face together, and sets you a challenge. There are very few things that keep me awake at night, these days. I manage to sleep even with the growing burden of obesity around us and the nonsensical insistence in our societal and political rhetoric that despite two-thirds of us being now affected in Australia (combined with overweightedness), it is still pushed as a problem born in individual laziness and ignorance. Blind to the broken system we inhabit


How Well Are States Respecting the Health of Undocumented People?

  A new report released by the University of California Global Health Institute and the UCLA Blum Center on Poverty and Health in Latin America Read More


USAID Announces New Approach To Purchasing, Distributing Medicines, Supplies

USAID: New Global Health Approach to Reach Millions More People with Lifesaving Medicines “The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today a new approach to purchasing and distributing life-saving medicine and health supplies. USAID will use data analytics and innovative tools to drive-down the price of medicines and increase delivery speed. As funding for…More


New York Times Letters To The Editor Address U.S., International Responses To Ebola Epidemic

New York Times: Letters to the Editor: The American Response to Ebola Multiple authors Multiple authors, including Jeremy Konyndyk, director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at USAID; Sebastian Kevany, a research associate at the Institute for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy at UCSF; and Jonathan Quick, president and chief executive of Management Sciences…More


Three World-Changers: Drones, Schools, and Sanitary Pads

Image Girls-shift-at-the-primary-school-Delhi-300x168.jpg

This post originally appeared on Humanosphere.On the Pacific archipelago nation of Vanuatu, a “digital humanitarian” has been using drones to carry out a detailed assessment of the damage caused by Cyclone Pam last month.In Rwanda, a young African woman is improving the lives of other young women by the simple act of providing them with locally made sanitary pads so they don’t miss work and school.And in Kenya, a man who grew up in extreme poverty, without formal education, is building schools and fighting poverty and gender inequality in the worst slums of Nairobi. New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof says he might be the next Mandela.All of these young people are trying to change the world in very different ways. Along with at least 50 others, they will be in Saxapahaw, North Carolina, April 23-24 for the fourth annual SwitchPoint, a global gathering organized by IntraHealth International (which I need to disclose is one of my clients).It is part TED talk, part World Economic Forum, and part cultural festival. I hesitate to call Switchpoint a conference because that implies long, boring presentations.


US and Senegalese Investments in Family Planning Are Paying Off

In Francophone West Africa, acceptance of family planning and use of modern contraception has been increasing over the last four years.The pivotal conference in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in February 2011 served as a launching point for the Ouagadougou Partnership and a strong engagement from the nine Francophone countries to reposition family planning within their health systems.Along with the global initiative of FP2020, there is a strong momentum in the region.  This would not have been possible without the support of the US government.The US is an important partner in the region. Along with UNFPA, the US is the major supplier of contraceptives and assistance related to strengthening the supply chain (at the country and regional levels).As the Guttmacher report highlights, family planning saves lives. There are US government-funded projects working in partnership with ministries of health to strengthen the region’s health system, prepare and retain essential health workers, and create demand for high-quality services so that more women and their partners have access to family planning and contraception, which are live-saving services.As the Guttmacher Institute’s new report—Just the Numbers: The Impact of US International Family Planning Assistance—highlights, family planning saves lives.Recently in Senegal, during a visit to clinics and a mosque in a suburb of Dakar, we heard from an Imam—a Muslim religious leader—who had lost his wife in childbirth. Now he is a strong advocate of spacing pregnancies—with the use of modern contraception—to improve the health of mothers and children, and to catalyze economic and social development.We also heard from health workers who had received mentoring on the insertion and removal of long-acting methods (implants and IUDs). They are now more capable and confident about providing such services to the women in their community who come seeking these modern methods.Family planning prevents 2.4 million abortions worldwide, 1.9 million of which are unsafe


World Health Worker Week 2015: A Catalyst for Further Advocacy

Last week, diverse organizations came together to honor the heroic and lifesaving work of frontline health workers in their communities and beyond, and advocate for health workforce strengthening to be a central priority in the global health agenda moving forward.Our common, heartfelt gratitude and respect for frontline health workers was undoubtedly the mobilizing force behind these passionate and concerted advocacy efforts, and World Health Worker Week 2015 provided the unique opportunity to collectively share our sentiments and work together towards these shared goals.The first World Health Worker Week in 2013 was built on mobilizing a shared recognition that improving access to skilled, motivated, and supported health workers was absolutely central to achieving universal health coverage (UHC).Health workers are the backbone of all global health goals. Two years later, World Health Worker Week 2015 further built on this theme to stress how health workers were “the backbone of all global health goals”—from achieving an AIDS-free Generation, combatting maternal and child mortality, defeating Ebola and other infectious diseases, and, indeed, underpinning the resilient health systems we need to achieve universal health coverage.This year’s official poster for World Health Worker Week, designed by Karen Melton at IntraHealth International, creatively illustrated the foundational role health workers play in achieving these goals.Numerous articles published by partners in recognition of WHWW highlighted the tenacity of health workers in accelerating progress towards achieving critical global health priorities.In Health Workers on Ebola Frontlines Serve Countries, Risk Own Lives, a feature story published by the World Bank for WHWW, we learned about the tireless efforts of local West African health workers in helping their countries reach zero Ebola cases, despite enormous risks, poor motivation, and ongoing shortages in essential protective equipment and training. To overcome these challenges and rebuild, the article emphasized the need for investment in “developing a national health workforce as part of a more resilient system.”Similarly, in Health Workers Spotlight: Heroes in the Fight for an AIDS-Free Generation, the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) acknowledged how critical health workforce shortages have hindered efforts to prevent and treat pediatric HIV/AIDS, and highlighted how investments in bolstering the health workforce in Kenya, Malawi, and Rwanda have had a huge impact on bolstering sexual reproductive health services in these regions.Finally, in 289,000 Reasons Why Health Workers Count for Mothers, IntraHealth International’s president and CEO Pape Gaye advocated for investments in helping developing countries “to train and deploy health workers where they are needed most”—especially in rural areas where health workers are largely inaccessible to women like Lala, Gaye’s sister who tragically lost her baby when she could not reach a hospital nearly 20 miles away during an emergency pregnancy complication.We also learned during this week that health workers are not only the underpinning backbone of global health goals, but also a fervent voice on behalf of the communities they serve.In Health Workers Speak, a Humans of New York-esque gallery featuring over 40 photos and quotes from health workers around the world, health workers themselves spoke passionately on their commitment to providing life-saving services at all odds.Health workers are a fervent voice on behalf of the communities they serve. Beautiful stories were also shared in A Day in the Life, an interactive map produced by the One Million Health Workers Campaign, Esri, and Direct Relief, showcasing the diverse roles community health workers play in improving health outcomes across Africa.Inspired by these stories, leaders and health workforce advocates took to social media to express their deep appreciation for frontline health workers.In a WHWW twitter chat organized by Johnson & Johnson on April 9th, over 300 organizations and individuals used the hashtag #HealthWorkersCount to express their gratitude for the indispensable role health workers play in communities they live and work in. Throughout the week, USAID and other US government agencies celebrated the contributions of health workers, and shared blogs highlighting what still needs to be done to achieve a sustainable and resilient global health workforce.As a perfect capstone to this week, Save the Children Pakistan and partners hosted an awards ceremony honoring 36 lady health workers from different Pakistani districts for their life-saving work in improving maternal and child health outcomes in rural regions.


USAID Supports Programs To Prevent, Treat, Eliminate NTDs

USAID’s “IMPACTblog”: Ending the ‘Neglect’ in Neglected Tropical Diseases Rabab Pettitt, a senior communications advisor at USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, and Katherine Sanchez, a knowledge manager for USAID’s END in Africa Project, managed by FHI360, discuss USAID’s efforts to end neglected tropical diseases through the support of the delivery of preventive drug treatments, “support…More


Can extended cost-effectiveness analysis guide scale-up of essential health services?

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Appropriate ways to prioritise investments in health services has always been a challenge for countries, with various devices used based on whether whether the rationale is mainly economic or social. The present health focus calls for both a social and economic perspective, since universal health coverage dimensions are built from both viewpoints. In their Article in The Lancet Global Health, Stéphane Verguet and colleagues present interesting perspectives about the prioritisation of services as countries move towards universal health coverage.


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