Archive for the ‘MDGs’ Category

Midwives: A Key Partner in Reducing Maternal Death

In Healthcare, Maternal and Child Health, MDGs on May 3, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Midwives are key partners in reducing maternal and newborn deaths in Africa. GHA contributor, Leigh Bernstein Reardon, makes a case for increased support for midwife training programs.

A quick Google search revealed that there are dozens of trained OB-GYNs in the 0.5 square-mile zip code where I work in New York City. Comparatively, Malawi, for example, has less than 20 trained OB-GYNs in the entire county. Another quick Google search led me to this statistic: a woman’s lifetime risk of dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 39 in Sub-Saharan Africa, as compared to 1 in 4,700 in industrialized countries. Leaving behind (for now) all of the obvious disparities that these facts represent, what comes to my mind first is that these figures—the number of trained health care providers and maternal deaths—are inextricably linked. Recognizing the dangerous combination of limited physician training programs and the high prevalence of brain drain the African continent faces, global health experts are calling for increased support for midwife training programs.

Midwives can provide critical care in places where no other health infrastructure exists. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), “Midwives can help avert two thirds of all maternal deaths and half of newborn deaths, provided they are well-trained, well-equipped, well-supported and authorized.” They not only deliver care during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum, but can provide front-line access to family planning and HIV/AIDS services. Midwives can also help reduce the need for emergency care by managing complications before they become critical. Importantly, midwives can be trained in 2-3 years, as compared to the 8-9 years it can take to train doctors, meaning they can provide more immediate care to women in need.

UNFPA’s State of the World’s Midwifery Report 2011 is the first comprehensive analysis of midwifery services and issues in countries where midwives are needed the most. Based on data and information from over 50 countries, the report highlights current issues facing the midwifery profession and urges governments, the international community, regulatory bodies, and training facilities to invest in the health of its mothers. Among the report’s key findings is that the global community lacks as many as 350,000 skilled midwives in order to meet the needs of women globally. The report also notes the importance of including midwives in costed maternal and child health plans, and health care policies. State of the World’s Midwifery Report 2014 will be published in June.

One movement working to increase the number of trained midwives is Amref’s Stand Up for African Mothers Campaign. Launched in 2011, the campaign seeks to help African nations meet Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 by training 15,000 midwives in 13 countries by 2015. According to their website, Amref has trained over 5,000 midwives using a mix of conventional and distance learning techniques. In an effort to bring to the forefront the estimated 250,000 women who die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth each year, the Stand up for African Mothers Campaign has created a petition to nominate Esther Madudu, a midwife from Uganda, for the Nobel Peace Prize. The goal of the campaign is to have the global community recognize these needless deaths and the important role that midwives play in saving the lives of mothers and children worldwide.

This week, the world will celebrate International Day of the Midwife. In honor of this day, check out a video of Edna Adam Ismail, a former midwife and UN diplomat, giving a TedX talk on the value of midwives and the notion that progress can be made in even the most seemingly desperate situations.


The Millennium Development Goals: Positioning Boys For The Future

In MDGs, Youth on March 10, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Global Health Africa blogger, Sophie Okolo, highlights the lack of emphasis on the development of boys in the Millennium Development Goals. She argues that public health programs need to engage both girls and boys to promote cultural change.

I’d like to see where boys and girls end up if they get equal encouragement – I think we might have some differences in how leadership is done – Sheryl Sandberg

Last month, I had an interview with an organization that enables young girls to excel in school, and young women to defeat the causes of what they endured in life. As the interview continued, I asked about the inclusion of boys in their agenda since these girls would grow up in a society that may not value them as equal contributors. It is well-known that boys are preferred over girls in lots of countries hence public health programs do not see a need to include boys. Even the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have a main focus on women and girls which poses a significant problem in the future. Such one-dimensional focus sets a stage where girls aspire to impact society but do not receive support from the boys/men in their lives. The MDGs need to encourage programs that co-educate and expand opportunities for both girls and boys in order to achieve cultural change in African nations.


When we educate and empower girls, who are we leaving as spouses when they want to marry? In my opinion, we are doing girls a disservice if we do not prepare boys to become supportive husbands as well as brothers, sons, and leaders in society. I believe that when organizations see the importance of boys, the discourse will start to shift and it is encouraging to know that some organizations are starting to educate boys to bring out cultural change. Like girls, boys have substantial energy, resilience and the power to induce change. When boys are educated and empowered, there are gains on various levels such as challenging a culture that condones child marriage, violence against women, and much more. In fact, a report by IRIN, award-winning humanitarian news and analysis service, highlighted Zimbabwean men who have become increasingly involved in caring for AIDS patients, challenging the stereotype that caring for the terminally ill is women’s work. Since boys and girls are part of society, I believe they can achieve more success together than separate. Neither boys nor girls run the world and society will suffer if one decides to run the world alone.

Currently, Africa is the most youthful continent in the world. At least 35 per cent of its more than one billion population is between the ages of 15 and 35. This number will continue to increase as Africa’s population grows. Therefore, investing in children, which includes boys should also be top priority for cultural transformation. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a writer from Nigeria, states “Culture does not make people. People make culture.”

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