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Maternal and newborn health take the spotlight at the World Health Assembly

By: Rima Jolivet; Originally posted on Maternal Health Task Force 

In an important development for the global maternal health community, the long-awaited Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) will be launched at the 68th World Health Assembly, at an event hosted by Cameroon and Malawi and co-sponsored by the contributors to the Every Newborn Action Plan. Read More...

Women Deliver CEO Joins the Secretary General & Other Global Leaders to Improve the Future of Health

By: Lauren Himiak, Women Deliver

This week, Women Deliver’s CEO, Katja Iversen, and a select group of influencers – including government ministers, UN representatives and civil society leaders – are attending the Greentree Retreat to discuss one of the most pressing development issues of our time: the future of women’s, children’s and adolescent’s health.
 
The new Global Strategy builds on the action sparked by Every Woman Every Child (EWEC), which has been the fastest growing public health partnership in history, with $34 billion in commitments dispersed to strengthen women and children’s health since 2010. Unprecedented progress has been made in improving the lives of women and children around the world over the last five years and EWEC has been credited with helping to save the lives of 2.4 million women and children in 49 countries.  Read More...

 

Striving for a Better Tomorrow on International Day of the Midwife

By: Brittany Tatum 

May 5 of each year marks International Day of the Midwife (IDM) in which we celebrate the progress that has been made towards the vision to reduce all preventable maternal and newborn deaths. Read more...

Critical Next Steps for the Maternal Health Community

By: Katie Millar; Originally posted on MHTF Blog

As we reflect on lessons learned from the MDGs and set strategies for improving global maternal health, it’s time to identify what has worked and what more is needed to not only avert preventable maternal deaths, but also provide quality health care for every woman.

In a paper published today, Tamil Kendall, a post-doctoral fellow of the Maternal Health Task Force, summarizes priorities for maternal health research in low- and middle-income countries based on three broad questions she asked 26 maternal health researchers from five continents: Read more...

Girls and Women Must be at the Center of the Global Development Agenda

By: Katja Iversen, CEO, Women Deliver

I am an optimist. Some would say I am a naïve optimist. Others would say I am an impatient optimist. There may be some truth to this, but after more than a decade working in global health I can say with confidence that over the next ten years we will make significant and sustainable change to improve the lives of women and girls in the world’s poorest countries. It will happen gradually and require a strong global strategy, but it is possible. Just think about how much progress has been made over the last two decades: maternal deaths have dropped by almost half, contraceptive use has increased, more girls are in school, more women are in leadership positions, and women’s rights are more widely recognized. Read more...

How Three Dollars is Improving Maternal Mortality in India

By: Lauren Himiak, Women Deliver

Globally, girls and women have less access to health care. In India, for example, 80 percent of healthcare facilities are located in urban areas, while 72 percent of the population lives in rural regions, creating significant challenges for health and well-being of girls and women. Without adequate access to comprehensive health services, preventative care, and treatment, girls and women are more likely to acquire diseases like HIV, suffer from malnutrition, and experience other health complications. Fortunately, there are people like Zubaida Bai working to change this. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Is Access to Safe Water A Secret Ingredient to Reducing Maternal Deaths?

By: Whitney Sogol, Women Deliver

In a recent PLOS article, “From Joint Thinking to Joint Action: A Call to Action on Improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Maternal and Newborn Health,” representatives from WaterAid, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, WHO, UNICEF, UN Population Fund, UNFPA, and the Share Research Consortium, put forward a case that access to safe water is an overlooked but essential tool for reducing maternal mortality—a development goal that has proven particularly hard to reach. Read more...

Making Childbirth Safer: It Takes a Sales Force

Originally posted by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

"The mother and her newborn are safe in my hands!” Ishrawati, a birth attendant at a remote health center in northern India, is feeling confident, and in many ways that’s surprising.

Like millions of mostly female health workers delivering babies in the world’s poorest communities, Ishrawati works under conditions of chronic scarcity. No heating in her facility during freezing winters; no air conditioning in the sweltering summers. No running water in the delivery room much of the time. Outmoded equipment and regular stock outs of medicines. Severe understaffing combined with patchy supervision. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Driving Change and Saving Lives in India

By: Lauren Himiak, Women Deliver

Imagine waking in the middle of the night choking, unable to breathe, scared, and unsure what to do. One’s first response may be to call for an ambulance, but what if none were available? This was the case in 2004 for Shaffi Mather whose mother awoke to this terrifying situation in India. Unsure of what to do, Mather’s family drover her to the hospital themselves. Just a few days later, a similar situation happened to Ravi Krishna, but in New York where a 911 ambulance was on the scene within minutes. Seeing firsthand such a stark contrast of availability and accessibility of standardized emergency medical services (EMS), Mather and Krishna decided to act. Read more...

Why Are Women and Children Still Dying?

By: Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning, Founder and Executive Director, Let Girls Lead, Champions for Change, and Youth Champions Initiative; Originally posted by

Nigeria, one of the richest countries in Africa, also boasts one of the world’s highest rates of maternal, newborn, and child death.  One in 13 Nigerian women dies during pregnancy or childbirth, and one in 8 Nigerian children dies before their fifth birthday.

And Nigeria is not alone. The global realities are equally devastating – nearly three million newborn babies die annually, and 800 women die in childbirth every single day. That means that two women will die by the time you finish reading this article – assuming you read fast. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Building Relationships, Accelerating Action

By: Whitney Sogol, Women Deliver

Over the past decade the global health community has seen a proliferation of MNCH innovations. Research on the efficacy of these innovations has not kept pace. Similarly, traditional business models have failed when it comes to making MNCH innovations affordable and accessible to those with the least resources and greatest need. Under these unfavorable conditions, innovators struggle to secure funding for untested MNCH products or programs that promise minimal, if any, profit. Scarce resources and capacity forces innovators to abandon their work at early stages even as women and children continue to suffer or die. Read more...

Disrespect and Abuse During Maternity Care Keep Women from Seeking Facility Births

By: Koki Agarwal, Director, MCHIP and forward by Katie Millar, Technical Writer, MHTF

This post is part of the Maternal and Newborn Integration Blog Series, which shares themes of and reactions to the “Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health: In Pursuit of Quality” technical meeting.

Forward: In the following post, Dr. Agarwal speaks of an unfortunately common problem between health workers and mothers: disrespect and abuse. This problem and its solution—respectful maternity care—play a role not only in health outcomes for the mother, but for the baby as well. At the Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health technical meeting, Rima Jolivet and Jeff Smith reviewed research that showed emotional support during labor significantly decreases:

  • The need for pain medication during labor
  • The rate of prolonged labor, labor complications, episiotomies, caesarean sections, low apgar scores, lack of exclusive breastfeeding, and severe postpartum depression
  • The risk of newborn sepsis

Celebrate Solutions: Government Initiative Improves Abortion and Post-Abortion Care in Ghana

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Although Ghana has one of the most progressive abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa, mortality from unsafe abortion is still a problem. The 2010 maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Ghana was 350 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to an average MMR of 240 in the developing world. One of the largest contributors to maternal deaths are complications from unsafe abortions. The 2007 Ghana Maternal Health Survey estimates that approximately 40% of abortions are performed by untrained providers. Evidence also suggests that many health care providers are not aware of the abortion law. Others may feel that performing an abortion conflicts with their religious beliefs. This lack of knowledge, along with social stigma that surrounds women seeking an abortion, drives the practice underground, resulting in clandestine procedures that are often performed by untrained providers or attempts at a self-induced abortion. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: How Niger’s Traditional Leaders are Promoting Maternal Health

By: Joan Erakit; Originally posted by Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency

BANDE, Niger, Sep 11 2014 (IPS) - It is a long, 14-hour drive from Niger’s capital city Niamey to the village of Bande. And the ride is a dreary one as the roadside is bare. The occasional, lone goat herder is spotted every few kilometres and the sightings become a cause of both confusion and excitement since there aren’t any trees, or watering holes in sight. Read more...

Copenhagen Announced as the Official Location of the Women Deliver 2016 Global Conference

Denmark highlights commitment to girls and women with conference announcement and launch of a new gender framework

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 18 August 2014 – Today, with 500 days left until the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline, advocacy organization Women Deliver and the Danish Minister for Trade and Development Corporation, Mogens Jensen, announced that the next Women Deliver global conference  will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May 2016. The announcement was made at the Invest in Girls and Women – Everybody Wins event held at the Danish Parliament, where Denmark’s new Strategic Framework for Gender Equality, Rights and Diversity was also launched.

“We are beyond thrilled that the Women Deliver 2016 Conference will be in Copenhagen,” said Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield. “The Danish government has played a key role in advancing girls’ and women’s health and rights and, with its support, this conference could catapult these issues to the forefront of the global development agenda and unify advocates from all around the world around one simple ask: Invest in girls and women – it pays.” Read more...

Dreaming of a World without Maternal Deaths

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Numfor Alenwi Munteh, Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development (CASD)

I dream of a world where every woman can consciously plan and space her pregnancies, and each baby is delivered safely and in good health. However, the reality in many developing countries plays more like a nightmare.

In my home country of Cameroon, nearly 14 percent of deaths among women of reproductive age are due to maternal causes, compared to 1.5 percent in the United States and 0.5 percent in Switzerland. Globally, almost 800 women die every day due to preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Ending maternal deaths will not be easy, but I’ve made it my mission to conquer this challenge. Read more...

Q&A Interview with Influential Jamaican Midwife Victoria Melhado

Originally posted by the Maternal Health Task Force

This post is part of our “Supporting the Human in Human Resources” blog series co-hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force and Jacaranda Health.

Katja Iversen is the CEO of Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization that brings together diverse voices and interests to share solutions and drive progress in maternal and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women Deliver builds capacity and forges partnerships – together creating networks, messages and action that spark political commitment and investment in the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women.

Victoria Melhado is a Jamaican advocate, midwife, and one of Women Deliver’s Young Leaders. Victoria is an active member of several committees, including the Nurses Association of Jamaica, and is the youngest winner of the prestigious National Nurse of the Year award. Ms. Melhado is also a member of the National Youth Month Planning Committee and is the author of ‘Be Inspired!’, a book of inspirational poems. Read more...

All Babies Are Equal – Helping HIV-Positive Mothers Deliver Healthy Babies

By: Svetha Janumpalli, Founder & CEO at New Incentives

New Incentives was a winner of the Women Deliver Social Enterprise Challenge held at the Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in May 2013.

A year ago, I was invited to represent New Incentives in Malaysia for the Women Deliver Conference. At the time, I had been running New Incentives for two years, giving cash transfers for everything from increasing attendance for young females in rural India to reducing HIV transmission in West African villages. The concept was simple: poor people lack money and decisions like not sending their daughters to school is born more out of economics than a lack of understanding of the value. In the last year since winning the Women Deliver Conference, we have grown from a young startup that was still looking for a focus, to helping mothers with HIV give birth to healthy babies. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Midwives Changing Lives of Women and Communities of Myanmar

By: Rehema Namukose, Women Deliver

When a community has access to trained midwives, the health of women and their children will improve, creating healthier families and communities. However, 70 percent of Myanmar’s population that live in rural areas barely have access to basic health education and information about maternal and child health care services. Many have no knowledge about basic reproductive health services like birth spacing, pre-and post natal care, and safe delivery services, all of which  can be provided by a skilled midwife.

The country’s health care system was ranked the second worst in the world by WHO in 2000, and that is why the government has been working ever since with many partners, including global civil society organizations, to make access to health care services a reality for all. A project intervention by Marie Stopes International Myanmar (MSIM) and Myanmar Nurse and Midwife Association (MNMA) is training young midwifery professionals known as Volunteer Midwives (VMWs) and placing them in villages in urgent need of health care services in the Ayeyarwaddy and Yangon regions of Myanmar. Read more...

Studies in Family Planning Publishes Special Issue on Unmet Need

June Issue Explores Challenges in Addressing Unmet Need for Contraception, Featuring Research and Case Studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America

NEW YORK, NY (16 June 2014) — Studies in Family Planning, a leading journal published by the Population Council, released “Unmet Need for Family Planning”—a special issue featuring ten articles, including a comprehensive introduction to the topic of unmet need. Distinguished researchers explore trends related to unmet need for contraception, and many articles point to practical strategies for increasing contraceptive knowledge and uptake, and for overcoming barriers that prevent women from practicing contraception.

“Unmet need has been an important indicator for measuring the progress of family planning programs for more than 25 years,” said John Bongaarts, vice president and Distinguished Scholar at the Population Council. “This issue features work from some of the leading minds in family planning. It explores trends, identifies issues, and proposes solutions to ensure that sexual and reproductive health programs and policies are structured to meet the changing needs of women and men over the course of their reproductive lives.” Read more...

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