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On World Health Day, Learning From Half a Century of Experience in Maternal Health

By: Conrad Person, Director, Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson

Today, the world marks World Health Day with ambitious goals for advancing the wellbeing of all people – with a special focus on women and children, whose fates are inextricably linked to overcoming poverty through the Millennium Development Goals. It is a time to celebrate how much progress we have made on issues like clean water and safe birth, but also a chance to reflect on the staggering gaps in health resources for women that still exist between developed and developing countries, and how we can address them. Read more...

Simply Everything: An Interview with Imane Khachani

By: Chally Kacelnik; originally posted in Feministe

Last month, Women Deliver – a fantastic organisation dedicated to improving women’s and girls’ health and wellbeing globally – released the Women Deliver 100. It’s a list of inspiring people, well, delivering for girls and women in all kinds of areas: health, politics, the media, and so on. Out of all those people, there was one I very badly wanted to interview, and her name is Imane Khachani. She’s a twenty-nine year old doctor from Morocco, and she’s one of those people who seem to get as much life and amazing activism into as little time as possible. She was a Special Youth Fellow at the United Nations’ Fund for Population, among other work with the UN, and has collaborated with the Department for Gender, Women and Health at WHO, not to mention Oxfam. Taking a particular interest in HIV/AIDS, she’s worked on sexual and reproductive health programs for young people at home and regionally, and has put together guides for addressing these needs in humanitarian settings. She’s just kind of jaw-droppingly amazing, if you will well know if you caught the video I posted recently. Click through to read the interview with Imane Khachani...

Celebrate Solutions: Improving Maternal Health and Increasing Awareness in Pakistan

pakistan.JPGBy: Rati Bishnoi, Special Projects Intern at Women Deliver

In a nation where an estimated 14,000 women die each year from pregnancy related causes, the Pakistan Initiative for Mothers and Newborns (PAIMAN) has worked to both improve the ability of the nation’s health care sector to better meet mothers’ needs and increase demand for maternal and reproductive health services. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Reaching Kenya’s Women With Reproductive Health Insurance

By: Madeline Taskier, Partnership Coordinator at Women Deliver kenyamother.jpg

Because of high healthcare costs, the poorest women in Kenya often do not have access to maternity care at any point during their pregnancies. On average, a Kenyan woman without health insurance must pay almost $350 USD in order to deliver in a private health facility -- the equivalent of what some Kenyans earn in one year’s salary. Since 2005, the Government of Kenya and the German Development Bank (KfW) have been trying to reduce these cost burdens for poor women with the Output-Based Aid (OBA) Voucher ProgramRead more...

Emergency in Japan: Keeping Women and Mothers Safe and Healthy

japanearthquake.jpgA 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which is the largest to hit Japan since records began, hit the north-east of the country on 11 March 2011. It was followed by a series of strong aftershocks, and also triggered a massive tsunami, which has destroyed most of the cities and villages on the north-east coast of Japan. During periods following a major natural disaster, women often lose access to basic health services, as public health and clinical care infrastructure are disrupted. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Family-Centered Maternity Care in Georgia, the SUSTAIN Project

By: Madeline Taskier, Partnership Coordinator at Women Deliver

New maternal health care services are bringing hope-and survival- to the women of Georgia. For 69 years, they suffered under a Soviet medical system with inefficient hospitals and clinics, poor geographical distribution of health facilities, and rampant financial instability. Healthcare for pregnant women and their families was no better, leaving women with a 1 in 1,300 risk of maternal death over their lifetimes and lack of access to low cost family planning methods. Since the country declared independence in 1991, it has been gradually bolstering the health system with the hope of providing all citizens with the services they deserve. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Driven to Deliver Maternal Care to Bolivia’s Hardest-to-Reach Women

By: Rati Bishnoi, Special Projects Intern
bolivia_mother.jpg
Nearly a decade after being launched, a program that sends mobile health units down some of Bolivia’s most remote roads is continuing to deliver much-needed basic reproductive and maternal health care to thousands of indigenous girls and women. Because most indigenous girls and women are unable to travel to cities to receive the reproductive care they need, the International Planned Parenthood Federation—Western Hemisphere and Bolivia-based Center for Investigative and Educational Services’ (CIES) Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic use these mobile health units to bring maternal health care to women who are the hardest to reach. Read more...

As Population Hits 7 Billion, UNFPA Focuses on Youth

By: Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund

EDBabatunde.jpgThis year, world population will hit 7 billion. With this major milestone occurring in my first year as Executive Director of UNFPA, I have an interesting and unique opportunity in leading the organization’s priorities.

One major focus will be today’s large generation of young people. There are an estimated 1.8 billion adolescents and youth aged 10 to 24, accounting for nearly a quarter of the planet's population. Just below 90 per cent of them live in developing countries and that proportion will increase during the next 20 years. They want freedom, participation and dignity and their decisions will define the future. Read more...

A Valentine’s Message for Girls and Women

By: Sharon D’Agostino, Vice President, Worldwide Corporate Contributions and Community Relations, Johnson & Johnson

My heart is different this Valentine’s Day, a day when many celebrate love. It has been touched by individuals transforming the world by caring for girls and women who, for many reasons, feel neglected and unloved. Writing Valentine notes over the past several days to people I love, my mind followed a path back to the work that my team and I are privileged to do at Johnson & Johnson, work with community-based partners dedicated to saving and improving the lives of women and children. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Extending Service Delivery to Mothers in Yemen

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

Early marriage, combined with high levels of illiteracy, poor health services and poverty, have pushed Yemen's maternal mortality rate to the highest in the Arab world – 1 in 91 women will die during pregnancy and childbirth in Yemen. In a country where a woman will give birth to an average of 5.5 children in her lifetime, access to family planning services, local midwives, and quality health centers is essential to combating the nutritional deficiencies, infection during delivery, and unintended pregnancies that many Yemeni women face. In an effort to expand family planning options and safe delivery services in the region, USAID has partnered with Pathfinder International through the Basic Health Services Program (BHS). Operating in 5 governorates in north and eastern Yemen, the BHS program aims to renovate health facilities, improve the supply of maternal health commodities and services, and involve local leaders in reproductive health education. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Empowering Young Women in Guatemala

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Communications Specialist at Women Deliver

In Guatemala, young indigenous girls living in rural areas often do not have a chance to go to school. Instead, they help their families, living in social isolation and sometimes chronic poverty. They often marry young and have many children – the country’s fertility rates are among the highest in Latin America, with each woman bearing an average of 4.4 children over her lifetime. These indigenous girls have limited access to basic services such as water, sanitation, passable roads, and health care. To help break the cycle and enable these girls to reach their full potential, the Population Council, in collaboration with other partners, launched a program called Abriendo Oportunidades (Creating Opportunities) in 2004. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: The Reproductive and Child Health Alliance in Cambodia

By: Madeline Taskier, Partnership Coordinator at Women Deliver

Cambodian_Women.jpgThe Southeast Asian country of Cambodia borders the South China Sea and is surrounded by Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. The maternal mortality ratio in 2008 was 290 deaths per 100,000 live births, but has been show to be as high as 493 deaths per 100,000 live births in rural areas.  Over the last decade, the Cambodian government has increased the availability of reproductive health services, but there is still great need for services among expecting mothers in rural areas. A national program is working to narrow the gaps in care, decrease the urban-rural disparities, and educate community-based health workers to provide lifesaving maternal care. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: The Developing Families Center in Washington, DC

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Communications Specialist at Women Deliver

While my previous posts have focused on ‘solutions’ in the Global South, today we’re focusing on maternal health in the United States where it is getting more dangerous to be a pregnant woman. In 2007, the United States ranked 41 out of 171 countries for lifetime risk of death from pregnancy related causes. That means 40 countries had better maternal health outcomes than the U.S. In 2008, the United States dropped to 50, behind countries including: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Qatar, and Puerto Rico. Today, in the U.S., 1 in 2,100 women will die in pregnancy and childbirth. Read more...

Health Care in its Social Context from SternerTurner Media on Vimeo.

Youth Advocates: 10 Ways to Take Action Right Now

With only a few days left until the New Year, it’s easy to feel like 2010 is already over. But it’s not too late to do something this month! Read our recap of the Top 10 Maternal Health Highlights in 2010 to celebrate all the hard work and successes of the year. Then, click through to check out some opportunities to keep your momentum going.

Celebrate Solutions: Family Planning and Birth Spacing in Pakistan

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Communications Specialist at Women Deliver

Studies have shown that when women give birth less than 15 months after a previous birth, their risk of dying from pregnancy related causes is 150% higher than for women who wait longer to give birth again. When pregnancies are too close together, newborns can be born too soon, too small, or with a low birth weight, may not grow well and are more likely to die before the age of five. Birth spacing – allowing three to five years to pass between births – is a very important maternal and child health intervention. Read more...

Human Rights Day: Recognize Maternal Health, Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Today, December 10, is Human Rights Day. As we at Women Deliver have been saying all year, maternal health is a human right. The right of all women to quality health care must be ensured to prevent the deluge of avoidable maternal deaths and injuries that happen every day. Maternal health care must be available, accessible, and of high quality. When countries fail to provide such care, it is a violation of women’s rights to life, health, equality, and non-discrimination. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: The Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project, India

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliver

Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula. The state faces major challenges in improving and increasing access to health care services, but they are making significant strides. The Government of Tamil Nadu developed a Health Policy in 2003 with a focus on the health of low-income communities and families. The Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project supports this strategy through several interventions, especially those aimed at reducing infant and maternal mortality. The World Bank recently provided more funds, in addition to the original financing in 2004, to further improve health services quality and access while supporting state-wide management systems implementation. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Newlyweds Learn About Healthy Families in Egypt

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliver

If people don’t receive comprehensive sex education growing up, what is another option for disseminating critical sexual and reproductive health information to them? By targeting young married couples in Egypt, The Mabrouk! (“Congratulations!”) Initiative strategically focuses efforts on young couples preparing to start a family. Established in 2004, the initiative combines a multimedia campaign with interpersonal and community empowerment approaches as part of the Communication for Health Living (CHL) project to create sustainable social change related to health practices. Read more...

Living Proof | Egyptian Newlyweds Learn About Healthy Families from ONE Campaign on Vimeo.

New Amnesty International Report: Barriers to Reproductive Health in Indonesia

Girls and women in Indonesia from poor and marginalized communities face multiple barriers in accessing reproductive health services, Amnesty International reports in  “Left without a Choice: Barriers to Maternal Health in Indonesia”. Released yesterday, the report details barriers to access which violate Indonesia’s international human rights obligations to protect girls and women from discrimination, as well as the right to health, and reproductive health in particular.

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...

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