Maternal & Reproductive Health

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Putting children at the centre of the end of AIDS

Charles Lyons | “In the 15 years since the Millennium Development Goals were adopted, the number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS has Read More

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Tanzania’s scarce midwives feel ‘helpless and heartbroken’

Dr Syriacus Buguzi | A dire shortage of skilled nurses and lack of life-saving equipment are putting maternal mortality goal out of reach. “When Juster Joseph graduated Read More

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“Abuse runs deep” in maternal health and HIV programs, says advocates

Right after she gave birth to her second child in a hospital in the Virginia suburbs, Martha Cameron’s doctor said to her, “Are you sure you don’t want your tubes tied?” As a woman living with HIV/AIDS, Cameron is no stranger to medical personnel treating her differently and poorly, whether that be in the U.S. […](Read more…)

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WHO Welcomes Revitalized Interest in Maternal and Newborn Heath Integration

By Severin Ritter von Xylander, WHO This post is part of the Maternal and Newborn Health Integration Blog Series, “Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health: In Pursuit of Quality” technical meeting. The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the revitalized interest in integration of maternal and newborn health care as integration is the key to success for both improving maternal health and for ending preventable newborn deaths. This is the very reason why WHO, together with UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank, have been promoting, already since 2000, Integrated Management of Pregnancy and Childbirth (IMPAC). This is the package of guidelines and tools, which respond to key areas of maternal and perinatal health programmes. IMPAC sets standards for integrated maternal and neonatal care


A Year of Mentoring, A Lifetime of Impact: The Maternal Health Young Professionals Program in…

By Katie Millar, Technical Writer, MHTF At the beginning of this year, the MHTF teamed up with St. John’s Medical College and Research Institute to launch the Maternal Health Young Professionals (MHYP) program; a year-long mentoring program for health professionals throughout India. This professional development program supported eight young health professionals from the private, public and practice sectors to enhance their research, evaluation, and managerial skills – equipping them with the skills they need to be national and global leaders in maternal health. In September, the MHYP showcased their projects, which were made possible by this unique skill building and mentoring process.


Quality of Care for Maternal and Child Health: An Interview with Dr. Zulfi Bhutta

The maternal health community has made great strides towards improving the health of women and newborns around the world, but as global efforts have scaled up interventions quickly, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) has often paused to consider the quality of this work. To evaluate this, Ana Langer and Anne Austin from the MHTF joined experts from around the world to create the Quality of Care in Maternal and Child Health supplement, published by the Reproductive Health Journal in September, 2014. Three of the five articles in the supplement have been highly accessed, which demonstrates high interest in quality of care in the community and untapped momentum that may be used to fill the identified research gaps. We talked to Dr. Zulfi Bhutta, lead researcher for the series, and asked him a few questions about the research process and how we as the maternal health community should move forward with the results


Empowering Pregnant Women for Positive Birth Experiences: Addressing RMC in the United Kingdom

By Milli Hill, Founder, Positive Birth Movement The focus of my response will be on UK maternity care, as this is where I am based and where the majority of Positive Birth Movement (PBM) groups are. However I am aware that RMC is a global issue, and that different cultures face different issues in their efforts to promote compassionate care. Running the PBM and writing about birth nearly every week, women consistently tell me this: kindness, compassion and respectful care really matter. How a woman (and her partner) are treated during and after childbirth can transform a difficult birth into something they feel at peace with; conversely, disrespectful treatment can be the root cause of trauma, even if the birth was relatively straightforward. The birth experience matters greatly to women, but we have somehow formed a cultural habit of discouraging them from admitting this.


Free Women from Disrespect and Abuse: Promote Respectful Maternity Care

By Christina Rawdon, National Coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance Zimbabwe How great it would be if all women the world over were free from any form of disrespect and abuse (D&A) in their life time; not because I am a woman but because I am an advocate for human rights with love for other human beings. Health care professionals are the pillar of respectful maternity care (RMC). Who disrespects and abuses women in health facilities? It is often but not always the health professionals.


Putting children at the centre of the end of AIDS

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Charles Lyons | “In the 15 years since the Millennium Development Goals were adopted, the number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS has Read More


From Rights-based Advocacy to Maternal Health Outcomes

By Georgia Taylor, Health Partners International The health system is responsible for poor maternity care Women’s health is affected by how they are treated during pregnancy, childbirth and after. South African women, for example, have described verbal abuse, including being ridiculed while pleading for assistance or pain relief, and being berated for “messing up” when they bled on the floor during labour. Many are later forced to clean up their own blood, the report states. “It’s become so normal some nurses don’t understand why it’s a problem to slap or shout at women in labour,” says Odhiambo. “Some say it’s necessary to get patients to follow directions, and it’s for their own good.” Health providers, especially midwives, nurses and obstetricians are held responsible for this situation, but in fact, it is the whole health system that allows the abuse and lack of care to take place.


The Right to Survive Pregnancy and Childbirth

by Melissa Upreti, Center for Reproductive Rights For many women, pregnancy is a joyous occasion, but for millions of women worldwide, it is a dangerous proposition that could result in serious injury or even death. Nearly 800 women die every day due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, with the vast majority of these deaths happening in developing countries in the global South. In many parts of the world, this reality is accepted as a fact of life, but the truth is that it is a violation of women’s human rights since, in most instances, the deaths are preventable. In fact, maternal death is too often directly tied to the severe gender bias women face, including discrimination based on their caste or tribe, where they live, and their socioeconomic status. This underlying discrimination frequently manifests as disrespect and abuse (D&A), which goes unchecked due to a lack of accountability norms, procedures, and mechanisms in health systems to ensure respectful maternity care (RMC).


Join Us in Celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child

By Katie Millar, Technical Writer, MHTF Today is a day of celebration: Today we congratulate Malala as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which is a perfect way to kick-off tomorrow, International Day of the Girl Child. As Malala fights for equal access to education for girls everywhere, we join tomorrow with girls, women, and organizations around the world to recognize the unique value, needs, and contributions of girls – ones that often go overlooked. The time of childhood and adolescence for girls is one filled with infinite possibilities for transformative experiences, for better or worse. The International Day of the Girl Child was launched for the first time three years ago by the United Nations as world leaders recognized that girls face many challenges that limit the realization of their potential and violate their human rights. Of these human rights, is the right to plan a family and the right to survive childbirth


Every Woman Deserves Respectful Maternity Care During and After Childbirth

By Susan Moffson, MCHIP Senior Program Officer At a training center in Tanzania, Jhpiego’s Senior Maternal Health Advisor, Sheena Currie, addressed the group of brightly dressed nurse-midwives and doctors. As part of an overview about respectful maternity care (RMC), Sheena used role-play to show these health care providers how to warmly greet pregnant women with a smile and kind words when they arrive at the health facility to give birth. “Hello, I am Sheena your midwife and I will be looking after you,” she said. Her words were met with giggles and snickers, and several training participants shook their heads skeptically. Sheena described this type of reaction as common: “Disrespectful and abusive (D&A) care is the elephant in the room; everyone knows it takes place, but it makes them uncomfortable to talk about it.” USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), led by Jhpiego, has always incorporated RMC in quality improvement (QI) approaches, for example, by integrating RMC in provider trainings on checklists and clinical standards


Apply Now! Exciting Fellowships for Maternal Health Professionals

Two fellowship opportunities are now available. Please review the information below. Takemi Fellowship The Harvard School of Public Health is pleased to announce that two Takemi Fellows will be supported annually by a grant from the Ford Foundation to contribute to leadership development and build capacity for sexual and reproductive health policy in Africa. The focal countries include Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia. Strong candidates from French-speaking West African countries can apply if they have strong English language skills.


Join Global Experts Today to Discuss the Impact of Maternal Death

Today, in the Leadership Studio at Harvard School of Public Health, experts will gather to discuss the impact of a maternal death on a family and society. A maternal death is a tragedy, but even more is its impact on her family and community both socially and economically. Today’s event, “Women’s Lives Matter: The impact of a maternal death on families and communities,” is hosted by the FXB Center for Health & Human Rights, Family Care International, and the International Center for Research on Women. You may join us in person or via live webcast at The Leadership Studio at Harvard School of Public Health to discuss how to use research findings to advocate for both funding and policy to sustain reproductive and maternal health efforts throughout the post-2015 agenda. On the panel are a variety of leaders in maternal heath: Dr.


Strengthening a Tanzanian Midwife’s Work Environment and Conditions: Yasinta’s Story

By Petra ten Hope Bender, Director of Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, and Sheetal Sharma, Research and Knowledge Management Associate, ICS Integrare This post is part of our “Continuum of Care” blog series hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force A Midwife’s Story This morning it’s been a rush to open the clinic where I work at the district health post of Iringa, [Tanzania]. There are already women waiting; long queues… which mean a long day for me. I still need to check if we received iron and anti-malarial tablets we were supposed to, oh… and the pregnancy tests. My name is Yasinta, I am a nurse-midwife and this is a typical day for me. Midwife auscultates for heart sounds


Exciting Opportunities to Work in Maternal Health

At the Maternal Health Task Force, we believe mothers and newborns will achieve the care they need as long as talented and enthusiastic people continue to work and advocate for improved outcomes. As such, we’d like to share opportunities available throughout the maternal health community. mothers2mothers: mHealth Project Manager in Cape Town UN WOMEN: Program Specialist (Consultant), Support the Reduction of Newborn & Maternal Mortality, Ethiopia UCSF Bixby Center: Research Analyst, Project Coordinator Jhpiego: Program Officer, DC; Senior M&E Advisor, Namibia; Project Director, Namibia; Senior Program Manager, Haiti; Malaria in Pregnancy Specialist, Uganda Jacaranda Health: Knowledge/Special Projects Manager


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