Biotechnology, Agriculture, Health, Environment, and Technology news coverage from events in, about and on Africa.
Maternal, Child Survival Initiative Saves Millions of Lives
The United States Agency for International Development has released
a new report showing that its maternal and child survival efforts have
resulted in nearly two-and-a-half million more children surviving and
200,000 maternal deaths averted since 2008 in USAID's 24 priority
countries. In addition, the USAID report released on Wednesday details how
to reach 38 million of the most vulnerable women around the world
with increased access to health care during delivery by 2020.
"Acting on the Call: ending
preventable child and maternal deaths" documents progress in 24 priority countries
to improve access to quality and respectful care during delivery, neonatal
resuscitation, vaccinations, breastfeeding, diarrhea treatment,
hand-washing, and other life-saving interventions in areas with a
disproportionate share of the world's maternal, newborn, and child deaths.
The report release coincides with a 'Call to Action Summit'
for ending preventable child and maternal deaths hosted by the Government
of India along with Ethiopia's Ministry of Health, USAID, the United
Nations Children's Fund, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Tata
Trusts, and the World Health Organization in New Delhi.
"This is an historic time in the advancement of public
health," said Acting USAID Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt.
"Ending preventable child and maternal deaths is a bold vision.
Countries are making incredible strides saving the lives of women and
children. As children survive and thrive, parents are choosing to have
smaller families-unleashing a virtuous cycle of progress and
In 2014, USAID unveiled a roadmap outlining how it plans to
support 24 high priority countries to make sure that children live to
celebrate their fifth birthdays, and that their mothers live to see them
grow. The roadmap is informed by the documented successes of
countries that have adopted effective interventions. Speeding up adoption
of the highest impact interventions could save 15 million children and
600,000 mothers through 2020. This report chronicles the progress made on a
country-by-country basis since USAID launched the roadmap a year ago and
provides additional detail on the roadmap for saving maternal lives.
Simple, early interventions and high impact practices can have
a huge impact. They include ensuring mothers give birth with a skilled
birth attendant by their side, drying the baby completely after birth to
prevent hypothermia, breastfeeding within the first hour and making sure
mothers know to give children with severe diarrhea a life-saving solution
of zinc, water, sugar, and salt.
Reducing missed opportunities to provide services is important
to advancing coverage and quality. For example, when a mother brings her
new baby to a health facility to get immunized, she should also be referred
to family planning services, and receive counseling on exclusive
breastfeeding for the first six months.
Many countries have made incredible strides. Ethiopia
increased the percent of women who took iron folic acid supplements during
their last pregnancy from 21 to 75% in priority geographical target areas,
and trained 5,000 midwives to increase the availability of skilled birth
attendants for facility births.
India now has more than 750 facilities in 264 districts across
11 states that offer postpartum family planning services for new mothers -
up from 34 facilities in 26 districts in 2010. Reaching women soon after
they give birth helps prevent rapid, repeat pregnancies that can expose
mothers to life-threatening complications.
In Bangladesh, the number of women attending four or more
antenatal visits jumped to 31% last year from 25% in 2011. Meanwhile, the
share of births taking place in a health facility rose to 37% from 29% in
that time frame; and the share of births attended by a skilled professional
climbed to 42% from 32%.
In the last year, USAID has worked with partners and the
Government of Kenya to scale up basic emergency obstetric and
neonatal care in 17 selected counties to 35 new facilities.
And six of the 24 priority countries reached the important
Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) milestone of maintained coverage for
three consecutive years of more than 90% of children receiving their third
dose of the diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP) vaccine. Achieving timely
coverage of all three doses required for the DTP vaccine is a standard
indicator of the strength of the routine immunization system.
Despite remarkable progress across global health, the brutal
fact is the world's poorest people still pay the most for things like clean
water and basic health services. And poor health and health shocks are
leading causes of chronic poverty and impoverishment.