Artists Voice Their Support to Improve Maternal Health in Tanzania

art_and_advocacy.JPGUNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, along with, a network of global artists, have brought together a group of renowned American and Tanzanian artists to use music and songs in raising awareness of the maternal health situation in Tanzania. Linked to the lively Sauti za Busara Music Festival in Zanzibar, the creative collaboration has just concluded a three-day music workshop with the production of a song calling for increased attention to maternal health in the country. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Model Maternities Initiative in Mozambique

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Communications Specialist at Women Deliver

Mozambique_mother.jpgAs in many African countries, women in Mozambique often give birth outside of a health facility. Factors leading to this decision include having difficult access to health services, being scared of how they will be treated at a health facility, and feeling more comfortable delivering at home. But, when complications occur at home, women and babies are much less likely to receive the appropriate, life-saving care they need. Mozambique’s government and partners are working to change this trend by improving health care delivery through the Model Maternities Initiative (MMI). The goal of MMI is to improve maternal and newborn health care services while providing a supportive environment in which women give birth. Read more...

Op-Ed: Kikwete at Helm of New UN Team

By: Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver, originally published in The Citizen, Tanzania

In Geneva this week, a small group of global health leaders will meet to discuss the future of maternal health. I am looking forward to seeing President Kikwete there.

2010 was a landmark year for maternal health, from every standpoint. In July, the African Union renewed the Maputo Protocol, one of the most forward-thinking international charters on women’s rights.

New data showed that global maternal deaths are in decline, and a series of high-level meetings throughout the year signaled that the health of girls and women has at last become a global priority.

In September, the UN Secretary-General launched his $40 billion “Every Woman Every Child” plan to scale up women’s and children’s health services in developing countries. An accountability commission was appointed to help guide the plan’s implementation, emphasizing transparency and results. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: The Midwives Services Scheme, Nigeria

By: Madeline Taskier, Partnership Coordinator at Women Deliver  

nigerian_mother.jpgBordered by Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and the Gulf of Guinea, the West African country of Nigeria is the eighth most populous country in the world with a soaring maternal mortality rate.  As of 2008, the average maternal mortality rate was 840 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and up to 1,549 deaths per 100,000 live births in rural areas. These statistics gave the Nigerian government a stern wakeup call: too many women were dying during pregnancy and childbirth with a weak healthcare workforce to support them. In 2009, the Nigerian National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) took action to expand women’s access to skilled health care workers in rural and suburban regions with the Midwives Services Scheme (MSS). Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Repairing Obstetric Fistula and Female Genital Mutilation in Somaliland

hospital_maternity_ward.jpgBy: Madeline Taskier, Partnership Coordinator at Women Deliver

Obstetric fistula, like maternal mortality, is an almost entirely preventable condition experienced by at least 2 million women in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East every year. When a woman has prolonged or obstructed labor delaying delivery of her baby, a hole can form in the tissue between her bladder, vagina, and rectum causing uncontrollable leakage of feces or urine and often resulting in a stillborn birth. Performing surgery to repair the fistula is successful 90 percent of the time, but many women in these regions often do not have access to trained surgeons and have little knowledge of the existing treatments. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Preventing PPH and Eclampsia in Sierra Leone

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliver

sierra_leone.JPGThe Western African country of Sierra Leone is gradually emerging from a protracted civil war, which poses unique problems for mothers-to-be. In 2009, Amnesty International named the maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone a “human rights emergency,” which at 1/8 is one of the highest in the world. But recent changes in policy and support from NGOs like Life for African Mothers have increased the potential for markedly improving maternal and child health. Read more...

Deaths from Unsafe Abortion Decrease, But Unsafe Abortions On the Rise

Researchers Iqbal Shah and Elisabeth Ahman of the World Health Organization report in the current issue of Reproductive Health Matters that the number of women dying from unsafe abortion has decreased by approximately one-third, from 67,000 in 2003 to 47,000 in 2008. However, the number of unsafe abortions has increased from 19.7 million in 2003 to 21.6 in 2008. WHO explains this increase as due to a greater number of women of reproductive age (15-44) living throughout the world. Read more...

International Development Journalism Competition Focuses on Women’s Issues

The Guardian International Development Journalism competition, supported by Marie Stopes International, announced the winners of the 2010 competition last week. The goal of this journalism competition is to generate articles that will help to raise awareness with the general public on the need for continued investment in international development and support for the Millennium Development Goals. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Community Health Workers in Uganda

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliver

uganda.JPGFive days after twin bombings hit the capital city of Uganda in July, the annual African Union Summit converged world leaders to discuss the theme of maternal and infant health, highlighting the issue of political instability and civil unrest in relation to development issues. While Uganda has made progress in improving maternal health, meeting MDG 5 will require a steep decline from 550 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005, to 131 in 2015. It remains a daunting task, but Uganda has implemented a number of interventions aimed at improving maternal and child health and increased government funding towards such projects. Read more...

Special Delivery: Maternal Mortality in Tanzania Feature Article in Ms. Magazine

The new issue of Ms. Magazine hit newstands today and includes a great feature article on maternal mortality in Tanzania. Ms. has been a wonderful vehicle for putting a spotlight on Maternal Health, and participated at the Women Deliver 2010 conference. This article is the third in a Ms. series on maternal mortality and the efforts being made to save women’s lives. Read more...

New Publications on Contraceptive Use, Access, Abortion, Early Marriage, and Youth

From contraceptive use in Cambodia and Central America and issues of access in Kenya and around the globe, to abortion trends and practices in India and Nigeria and early marriage and reproductive health outcomes in India, to youth policy and services from the WHO European Region - click through to find a variety of new research studies and publications.

Celebrate Solutions: Training and Mobile Health Technology in Rwanda

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliverrwanda_mother.jpg

How did a small landlocked country recovering from genocide become a model for development in Africa? With clear objectives and investment in technological innovation, Rwanda is making significant progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals 5 and 4. The Rwanda Ministry of Health is working together with partners to improve maternal and child health. From 2000 to 2005, maternal mortality rates decreased from 1,071 to 750 per 100,000, and efforts are being bolstered to continue progress. Read more...                                                                                                                                                 

Empty Handed: Responding to the Demand for Contraceptives

Empty Handed tells the story of women’s lack of access to reproductive health supplies in sub-Saharan Africa, and its impact on their lives. It documents the challenges at each level of the supply chain and identifies key areas for improvement. Watch the film here, visit the website, and click through to learn more.

Dr. Fred Sai Speaks Out and Releases His Memoirs

The distinguished Ghanaian physician Fred Sai has devoted his entire career to issues of health and reproductive rights. He is best known for drawing attention to the food and nutrition problems of Africa – particularly in connection to children – and is an internationally recognized authority on health, nutrition, population and family planning. He was also the honorary co-chair of the Women Deliver 2010 conference, where he spoke on the issues affecting girls and women around the world. Now, he has released his memoirs in a book called, With Heart and Voice: Fred Sai Remembers.

A Silent Phenomenon Spreads HIV

By: Robert Mukondiwa, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders, and journalist in Zimbabwe, originally posted at Conversations for a Better World

Young sex workers in rural Zimbabwe have embarked on a fatal path that increases their likelihood of contracting and spreading HIV. Poverty and a lack of information intensify the problem, but instead of embracing the challenge with effective solutions, many are turning away in denial... Read more of Robert's story and join the conversation.

Stigma and Discrimination Surrounding HIV/AIDS

By: Angella Musiimenta, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders, from Uganda; orginally posted at Conversations for a Better World

A young woman in Uganda contracts HIV/AIDS and faces relentless prejudice that alters every aspect of her life. She is only one of the millions of young people whose physical challenges are multiplied by the cruelties of social discrimination. Read Angella's blog and discuss how stigma affects young women.

Many Hands: How to Reach HIV Positive Youth

By: Diana Sera, one of Women Deliver's 100 Young Leaders and Monitoring & Evaluation Manager of Northern Uganda Malaria AIDS & Tuberculosis Program (NUMAT). Originally posted at Conversations for a Better World.

HIV positive youth encounter profound and varied challenges. We say we want to help, yet we continually let them down when we don’t provide the services they need. It’s a growing problem without a single solution. NUMAT is one of many organizations that is serving the underserved through a layered approach that supports, nurtures and strengthens the youth whose lives have been redefined by HIV.

Ten years ago, I took an HIV test. I was motivated to take the test because I lost my closest relative to HIV. Knowing my own HIV status has empowered me to make informed decisions about my life and to reach out to my family and peers to encourage them to get tested early too. While at school, some of my peers were HIV positive and faced a number of challenges, including stigma and discrimination, and many didn’t know how to find youth-friendly HIV services. All of the above inspired me to join an organization that aims to fulfill the needs of HIV positive youth. Read more...

African Leaders Agree on Ways Forward on Maternal and Child Health

KAMPALA, Uganda — The high-level debate on “Promoting Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa,” ended with an agreement by Africa’s leaders on an action plan to kick-start the effective implementation of existing resolutions and decisions on maternal, infant and child health in the continent.

Renewing Our Promises to Protect Women’s Health

By: Jotham Musinguzi and Jill Sheffield; originally posted at Modern Ghana and Daily Monitor (Uganda)

Over the past few years, Africa has shown admirably strong leadership in an area that is critical to this continent’s advancement: women’s health. From increasing the number of pregnant HIV positive women on anti-retroviral drugs, to ensuring that women are accompanied by skilled caregivers when they give birth, the continent is working hard to demonstrate commitment and progress on this important issue.

Women are the thread that weaves this continent together. They drive local economies and run households. In Africa, they operate the majority of small businesses and farms. Much of our wives’, mothers’ and sisters’ incomes go to our families’ food, medicine, and education. Investing in women is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.

No Woman Should Die Giving Life

By Njeri Mwangi-Kinyoho, East Africa regional advisor, Advocacy and Justice for Children - World Vision International; originally posted at Daily Monitor (Uganda)

The 15th Ordinary Session of the Summit of the Africa Union will be taking place in Kampala, Uganda between July 19 – 27, 2010. The theme of the Summit is “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa”. Unsurprisingly, this theme is the same as that of the just concluded G8/20 Summit in Canada whose outcomes fell well below the expectations of developing countries in terms of commitment on increased aid particularly in the areas of maternal, newborn and child health.

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