- 20/02/2014 : New programme in Uganda funded by Big Lottery Fund
- 28//01/2014 : MPs vote on development bill to tackle gender inequality
- 24/01/2014 : Universal Health Coverage an essential means of achieving post 2015 health goals
- 21/01/2014 : Large returns from small investments in women's and children's health
- 03/01/2014 : In 2014, it's unacceptable for girls in Malawi to be unable to go to school
- 03/01/2014 : Child survival: a message of hope but a call for renewed commitment in UNICEF report
The Big Lottery Fund has given us £498,489 to prevent pregnant women and newborn babies dying from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth in 67 villages in the Gulu and Amuru districts of Northern Uganda.
With a high and unimproving maternal and infant mortality rate, Uganda is unlikely to reach its Millennium Development Goal targets by 2015. Although more women now have their baby delivered in health facilities fewer made the recommended four antenatal care visits. Skilled personnel attend fewer than half the births in Uganda. We will be working together with our Ugandan partner, AMREF, to address these shocking statistics.
The project will take place in the area of Uganda most affected by the protracted conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan army. Economic stagnation and the effects of natural disasters, combined with the conflict, have stalled the development of adequate health care infrastructure. Although many people displaced by the conflict have returned, access to basic health services and medicines is limited for most.
MPs are poised to vote on a private members' bill that would place a statutory obligation on the UK government to consider the impact of its overseas aid spending on reducing gender inequality.
Campaigners are confident the international development (gender equality) bill, proposed by Conservative MP for Stone, Bill Cash, and supported by the international development secretary, Justine Greening, will on Friday be voted through to its final stage in the House of Commons and proceed to the House of Lords for consideration.
The bill, which has crossparty support, calls for gender considerations to be embedded into every aspect of Britain's aid spending. It also places a duty on the secretary of state to consider how gender inequality can be reduced when disbursing development and humanitarian funds. This could, for example, include health programmes that encourage both men and women to bring their children for routine vaccinations and checkups, rather than putting the emphasis on women, and using promotion materials that show pictures of men taking childcare roles.
The bill is believed to be the first to enshrine in law a commitment to reduce gender equality through aid disbursements.
A recent article in PLOS Medicine shows there is an emerging consensus that universal health coverage is an essential means of achieving post-2015 health goals.
With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expiring in 2015, the world awaits a new, ambitious framework for improving lives. This framework must pass the vital test of reducing inequalities, especially gender-related ones, as a critical step towards the improvement of women's health. Measurably improving women's health throughout the life course will contribute to other post-2015 goals. Conversely, women's social empowerment through education, participation in the labour market, and political representation will improve health.
For this virtuous cycle to occur, the next iteration of the development goals has to embrace women's health and wellbeing as a key priority, particularly since indicators for women's health in the current MDGs, including maternal mortality, are among those lagging farthest behind. Health systems have failed to provide contraceptive access to many women who wish to delay or avoid pregnancy, especially for poor women. Slow progress also reflects a failure to address complications of pregnancy and childbirth, such as life-threatening haemorrhage and hypertension. The ongoing policy debates around the post-2015 development agenda provide a unique window of opportunity to redress these limitations and advance a comprehensive women's health agenda.
There is an emerging consensus that universal health coverage (UHC) is an essential means of achieving post-2015 health goals and may represent a valuable goal or target in itself. UHC, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is the goal that all people can obtain the prevention and treatment health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them. Supported by growing evidence, proponents argue that UHC can improve population health and promote economic development by lifting the barriers created by unequal access to quality health care services.
A recent study published in The Lancet finds that an increased investment in health of only five dollars per capita per year in 74 of the poorest countries can result in a nine-fold social and economic return. The Global Investment Framework for Women's and Children's Health, supported by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Health Organisation and other partners, shows that small investments in women's and children's health will yield a large return. By making the additional investments needed for life-saving interventions, it would be possible to not only avoid unnecessary deaths, but also have healthier, more productive individuals, communities and countries.
The social and economic benefits, adds the analysis, would include preventing the needless deaths of five million women, 147 million children, and 32 million stillbirths by 2035. Nearly all of the averted maternal deaths would be in low or lower-middle income countries, with two thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The benefits would also include greater gross domestic product growth through increased employment, productivity and personal income.
Every Wednesday, Shakira Yakiti gets together with a group of at-risk girls at the Nampingunja School in the rural Mangochi district of Malawi. Their Girls Club organizes home visits to girls who have dropped out of school to get married, works with teenage mothers to encourage them to return to school, interfaces with school headmasters to make sure the returning students are welcomed, and provides social support for girls facing serious challenges in a country where poverty is endemic, secondary school attendance for girls is significantly lower than for boys, and girls routinely get married and have children as teenagers.
Shakira said: Whenever those girls come back, we sit down as a club to discuss what problems they're facing and what problems caused them to drop out of school. Sometimes we even raise money to help them out if the problem is poverty, so they can buy soap and the like. We are always proud when we see a girl coming back to school.
Shakira is a force of nature, slim and poised and speaking with the easy eloquence of a seasoned politician. When I met her, she was talking to a team of aid workers and visiting journalists jamming microphones in her face and jotting down her every word. She handled our questions fluidly and coherently, providing incisive answers and encouraging the members of the Girls Club to share their stories. As we left, we all agreed that her grassroots organizing skills and her persuasiveness indicate a fine future in politics.
Did I mention she's 13?
A recent UNICEF report Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed Progress Report 2013 presents a comprehensive analysis of levels and trends in child mortality and progress towards MDG 4. The global under-five mortality rate has been cut nearly in half (47%) since 1990. However, during this same period, 216 million children are estimated to have died before their fifth birthday. Most of these deaths were from leading infectious diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea or malaria, or were caused by preventable neonatal causes such as those related to intra-partum complications.
The highest mortality rates in the world are observed in low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Sub-Saharan Africa faces a particular challenge in that it not only has the highest under-five mortality in the world but it also has the fastest population growth.
WHO has released new Recommendations on Postnatal Care of the Mother and Newborn. This publication provides guidelines on fundamental postnatal care (PNC) which are particularly applicable to resource-limited settings in low- and middle-income countries. The guidelines apply to home births as well as those in health facilities, and can be adapted to meet particular needs in different regions.
Some of the key recommendations include:
1. All mothers and newborns should receive at least one PNC visit within 24 hours of birth, whether birth is in the home or a health facility. At least three additional contacts are recommended: three days after delivery, between seven and 14 days after birth, and six weeks after birth. Home visits are recommended during the first week after birth.
2. Mothers should receive counseling and support for exclusive breastfeeding at each postnatal visit, and should continue exclusive breastfeeding from the child’s birth until 6 months of age.
3. Daily chlorhexidine use is recommended for cord care in regions with high neonatal mortality (30 or more deaths per 1,000 live births), but clean, dry cord care is advised in areas with lower neonatal mortality.
4. In the first 24 hours after birth, all women should have regular assessment of vaginal bleeding, uterine contraction, fundal height, temperature and heart rate. Blood pressure should be measured shortly after birth. At each subsequent contact, assessments should be made of any perineal or abdominal wounds and the provider should inquire about general and emotional well-being.
5. Women should receive information on the physiological process of recovery after birth, including signs and symptoms of postpartum haemorrhage, pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, infection, and thromboembolism. They should also be counseled on good nutrition and hygiene practices as well as birth spacing and family planning.
6. Psychosocial support is recommended for women considered at high risk of postpartum depression. A woman who has lost her newborn should be given additional supportive care.
Reducing the number of teenage pregnancies and ensuring young women have access to contraception will be the focus of the largest global summit on family planning, which opens in Addis Ababa on Tuesday 12 November.
As The Guardian reports, the third international family planning conference aims to build on the momentum of last year's meeting in London, where donors pledged $2.6bn (£1.6bn) in new funding and committed to providing 120 million more women with access to modern contraceptives by 2020.
The Malawian president, Joyce Banda, Thai prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and Melinda Gates are among the thousands of political leaders, philanthropists, medical experts and women's rights activists expected to attend.
"These are exciting times," said Ketchie Obagwu, senior expert on family planning at the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), who wants governments to present clear action plans on how to fulfil their promises.
06/11/2013 : More than 7 Million Girls in Poor Countries Give Birth Before 18 Each Year, Finds New UNFPA Report
LONDON/UNITED NATIONS, New York — More than 7 million girls in poor countries give birth before 18 each year, finds new UNFPA report - 2 million of them are 14 or younger.
Motherhood in childhood is a huge global problem, especially in developing countries, where every year 7.3 million girls under 18 give birth, according to The State of World Population 2013 , released today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
- 23/10/2013 : New service uses mobile phones to reduce maternal mortality
- 15/10/2013 : India seeks to regulate its booming 'rent-a-womb' industry
- 14/10/13 : Major Announcements Boost the Last Stretch of the Health Millennium Development Goals
- 10/10/2013 : UN: Global Child Deaths Down By Almost Half Since 1990
- 25/09/2013 : High stakes at UN on Sustainable Development Goals
- 28/08/2013 : Ending Preventable Maternal Deaths: The Time is Now
- 09/07/2013 : MDG Report Shows Health and Education Need Urgent Progress
- 27/06/2013 : Women and Children First and partners announce 1,000 newborn lives saved
- 17/06/2013 : Countdown 2015 launches 2013 Update on Accountability for Maternal, Newborn & Child Survival
- 13/06/2013 : Investing in women's reproductive health: Closing the deadly gap between what we know and what we do
Our Radio 4 Appeal update – a big thank you
Thank you very much to all of you who contributed to help us raise our total of £9,345.85.
Please do watch this short video where you can listen to the stories of some of the mothers we have helped in Bangladesh.
You’ll hear from Jyosna who’s life, and that of her son Nurani, was saved by a loan worth just £15.