Month: June 2014

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Why Mothers Need More Than a Hospital

In rural Nepal, pregnancy is referred to as a “gamble with death.” Rupa nearly lost the gamble. She was born in her own home, but her mother warned her of the dangers of home births. Rupa, like so many other pregnant women, wanted to give birth in a safe healthcare facility near her home. When she went into labor, she immediately journeyed to the nearest clinic. There was only one midwife present and part way through her delivery the nurse suspected complications. Rupa knew she needed additional help. Rupa is from a district called Mellekh, which is a two-hour drive over rough roads to our hospital in Bayalpata—a drive that is impossible to make during the monsoon season because of the road conditions. Rupa called for an ambulance. Possible’s ambulance driver came to pick her up and bring her to our hospital in time to safely deliver a baby boy. Rupa’s story has a happy ending. She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy after an intense labor and the imperative help of two of our midwives. Mothers who are …

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Newborn survival: the Every Newborn Action Plan

Almost a year ago, I held my beautiful baby boy in my arms for the very first time. I was captivated and mesmerized by his wrinkled skin, his bright eyes and his innate ability to feed from me, taking in all the nourishment he needed in those early hours. As the days and weeks went by, I watched him grow, become more alert and attentive and attempt his first smile. Nothing could have prepared me for this unbelievably wonderful experience. But, having travelled to, and worked in, some of the poorest countries in the world, there has not been one moment that I have taken the precious life of my baby for granted. I am among the privileged of the world; able to enjoy him free from the worry of death lurking just around the corner. Newborn deaths now account for at least 44% of deaths among children under the age of five globally, resulting in 2.9 million lives lost each year. Another 2.6 million babies die in the last 3 months of pregnancy or during …

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Success Factors for Women and Children’s Health

Over the past several months, Girls’ Globe has highlighted the importance of maternal, child and newborn health. We have discussed many of the leading preventable causes of maternal and child mortality. During the International Confederation of Midwives, we celebrated midwives, health professionals, organizations and individuals working to improve the health of women and children around the world. In the scope of maternal, newborn, and child health there has been a lot of progress towards meeting the 2015 development agenda. Many countries are leading the way by offering critical health services and interventions for women and children. Today, the conversation continues as the 2014 Success Factors for Women and Children’s Health report was launched at the Partners Forum for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Johannesburg, South Africa. The project began in 2011 and was birthed out of the 2010 Partners Forum. Ten “success factor” countries including, Peru, Egypt, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam and China were reviewed. These ten countries have been labeled “fast track” countries which means they are on target …

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The Road to PMNCH

For many women, the path to motherhood is a tumultuous journey. Women, girls and children around the world suffer from preventable complications, travel long distances, endure unnecessary trauma and often lack the care they need to deliver healthy babies. For adolescent girls, the journey begins even earlier with nearly 16 million girls between the ages of 15-19 giving birth annually. In many countries, young girls are forced to mature and have children before they are physically, emotionally and mentally able to handle the process. Fortunately, along this road, there are women, girls, men, boys, individuals, activists and organizations working tirelessly to improve the pathway for maternal, child and newborn health. The availability and access to education, healthcare, trained medical professionals and quality services is crucial to improving the health and well-being of women, girls, children and families. Governments, leaders, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, grassroots initiatives and others must all work together to make sure that women and children have the care they need. Girls’ Globe invites you to take a journey with leaders, government officials, policy …

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The adolescent girl will make or break the future

Adolescent girls and young women are often ignored in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services, and at times overlooked as the population most urgently needing such services and information. Yet, with an enormous global adolescent population (estimated at around 1.8 billion and comprising one-quarter of the world’s population) living in varying degrees of social equality, the reproductive health of the world’s young girls is an issue that requires attention and needs to be prioritized on a global level to ensure lifelong health and well-being for girls, women and their communities. The importance of sexual and reproductive health of adolescents has gained momentum in recent years, as it becomes more and more apparent that empowering women with both the knowledge and tools to take control of their own bodies is not only the right thing to do, but reaps both economic and social rewards. Delaying childbearing until after adolescence produces socioeconomic benefits. Contraception enables women to have smaller families, space their children and reach increased quality of life, greater productivity and an increase in the quality of women’s …

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Cutting Female Circumcision From Egyptian Culture

Written by C. Kott Suhair al-Bata’a was once a 13 year-old Egyptian girl, described by her family as sweet and spirited. Today she lies in a tomb near the home she grew up in, after she died a year ago, while undergoing surgery for female genital mutilation (FGM). Despite the fact that FGM was banned in 2008, it remains a common practice in Egypt. UNICEF reports that more than 90% of women in Egypt have undergone the procedure. This issue has the support of prominent political and religious groups. FGM is perceived as an initiation into womanhood that defines a girl’s femininity and cleanses her of sexual impurity. Individuals, activists and organizations hope that Suhair’s tragic death will create change for other girls. A landmark trial is underway with the potential to alter the face of Egyptian society. Initially, Suhair’s family filed charges against the doctor who performed the operation. Later they dropped the charges, claiming Suhair was being treated for genital warts. Vengeance for Suhair might have ended there, had Reda al-Danbouki not intervened. Al-Danbouki is an Egyptian human rights …

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Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Maternal and Child Deaths

On Wednesday, I had the exciting opportunity to attend the Acting on the Call event at which governments, organizations and advocates alike joined forces to emphasize the urgency of including a global focus, strategy and goals for ending preventable maternal and child deaths in the post-2015 agenda. At the event, the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) launched its Acting on the Call Action Plan and its 2014-2020 Maternal Health Vision for Action. The Action Plan outlines five strategic focus areas and actions: Increase efforts in countries that account for the largest share of under-five deaths; Reach the most underserved populations; Target priority causes of mortality with innovation efforts and interventions poised to go at scale; Invest beyond health programs to include empowering women and supporting an enabling environment; and Create transparency and mutual accountability at all levels, with strengthened commitment to common metrics for tracking purposes. The Vision highlights the importance of enabling and mobilizing individuals and communities; advancing quality and respectful care; and strengthening health systems and continuous learning. Included in the policy is the …

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North-South Divide of Maternal Mortality – Bridging the Gap

In many developing countries, a woman’s chance of dying in childbirth can at times surpass her chance of surviving it. While the global maternal mortality rate has decreased 45% since 1990, around 800 women continue to die every day as a result of pregnancy and childbirth related complications. Most of these deaths are preventable, and many could be avoided through simple and often very low cost solutions and interventions. For millions of women, the lack of availability of basic medical services, such as trained nurses and midwives, and the lack of accessible clinics and cheap basic medicine such as antibiotics can lead to grave consequences, sometimes for both mother and the baby. The first day of a newborn’s life – a day that should be marked with sheer joy and happiness – has also been identified as the most dangerous day for both mother and the baby. For millions of mothers and babies, pregnancy and childbirth are shadowed by immense risk and danger, and what should be a start of a new life too often …

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Calling All Men: Enlisting men and boys to ensure women and children reach their full potential

Slapping. Choking. Pushing. Intimidating. Hair pulling. Burning. Public shaming. Raping. One in every five women experiences these forms of violence during her lifetime. One in five. Experienced in every society, this violation of human rights ranges from domestic violence (at the hands of an intimate or ex-partner) to a weapon of war. So pervasive, violence against women (VAW) was recognized in the Millennium Declaration of September 2000, when the General Assembly of the United Nations resolved “to combat all forms of violence against women and to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women”. In order to combat violence, one must first ask why it is occurring. VAW is closely linked to complex social conditions like poverty, lack of education, gender inequality, maternal/child mortality, and HIV/AIDS – conditions that have guided the Millennium Development Goals set to expire in 2015. Yet nowhere in the targets or indicators of the MDGs do we see a focus on VAW. In order to improve this gender equality that continues to undermine health and …

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Reducing the Load: South Sudanese girls at Marial Bai Secondary School

The civil war in Sudan killed two and a half million people and displaced nearly six million South Sudanese between 1983 and 2005. Despite gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan experienced tragic violence when internal conflict broke out in December 2013. In the six months since the violence began, international companies, government agencies, and aid providers have left the country due to security reasons, eliminating jobs, halting development, and closing schools. In response to the conflict during the 2014 school year, the VAD Foundation: • Increased student enrollment by 44% • Tripled our female enrollment • Hired an additional six teachers • Began solar installation providing jobs to locals • Issued micro loans to female heads of household in Marial Bai The VAD Foundation creates quality education opportunities in South Sudan through the Marial Bai Secondary School (MBSS), which was constructed in 2009. MBSS is the highest ranking school nationwide that is free for students to attend. In South Sudan, a girl spends on average six years enrolled in school. Culturally, young women carry much …