2020 Marks The International Year of The Nurse and The Midwife #SupportNursesAndMidwives

It is no surprise that the world needs more health workers. In fact, even though there are currently 22 million nurses and 2 million midwives globally there is an urgent need for 18 million more health workers in order to reach universal health care coverage by 2030 according to the World Health Organization.

There is a particular need for 9 million nurses and midwives as they are critical components to a robust health system and are often on the front lines of general and critical care including:

  • Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases
  • Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of noncommunicable diseases
  • Sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, and maternal and newborn health care, including immunization and breastfeeding support.
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NYC Report Tackles Maternal Morbidity Rates

For years researchers who study maternal morbidity and mortality have been stumped as to why rates continue to rise and why women of color are adversely affected despite education, health care, and socio-economic factors.

A new report and the first of its kind released in May, New York City 2008 – 2012: Severe Maternal Morbidity, shows the myriad reasons why women of color, especially low-income, Black non-Latina, women fare the worse with severe maternal morbidity (SMM). While most studies in the past across the country focus on maternal mortality, this report focused on maternal morbidity, the causes of maternal mortality.

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HIV ‘Test and Treat’ Strategy Can Save Lives

By Sydney Rosen, Boston University

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to take a tremendous toll on human health, with 37 million people infected and 1.2 million deaths worldwide in 2014. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the HIV epidemic has been most devastating, more than 25 million people are HIV-infected, about 70 percent of the global total.

But as of 2014, only about 11 million people infected with the virus in Africa were receiving treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications, which can stop the progression of disease and reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

That leaves 14 million people with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa untreated. This is partly because, until recently, most countries have provided ART only for patients who reached a specific threshold in HIV disease progression. And starting ART can be a lengthy and complicated process, leading many patients to drop out of care before they even begin treatment.

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West Africa Declared Ebola Free, Despite Recent Outbreak

For two years Ebola has drastically ravaged three West African countries – Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia – and has taken the lives of 11,300 people according to the Guardian UK. Over 28,000 people were diagnosed with Ebola and still live with the pain and stigma of the disease. Since Liberia has not reported a single Ebola case in 42 days, the World Health Organization officially declared an end to the Ebola epidemic. Sierra Leone and Guinea have already been declared Ebola-free with 90 days of no new reported cases. However, just last week another Ebola case was discovered in Sierra Leone in the death of a 22-year-old woman, causing an outbreak of at least 100 people. Twenty-eight people have been quaratined.

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Maternal Mortality Will Rise Due to Ebola-Caused Health Worker Deaths

In January I wrote that I would be looking closely at the effect of Ebola on maternal health and mortality in the Ebola-affected countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Today unfortunate news was released by the World Bank and The Lancet.

According to the new report, Health-care worker mortality and the legacy of the Ebola epidemic and New Wave of Deaths From Ebola?: The Impact of Health Care Worker Mortality (PDF), it is estimated that 4,022 more women will die during childbirth in these countries on top of their already high maternal mortality rate due to the deaths of 240 health workers (doctors, nurses, and midwives) collectively across all three countries. Liberia lost the most health workers at 83. Guinea lost 78 and Sierra Leone lost 79 health workers. That translates to an increase of maternal deaths by 38% in Guinea, 74% in Sierra Leone, and 111% in Liberia. Due to the nature of health work a disproportionate rate of health workers died during the Ebola epidemic as opposed to the general population. Those health workers, of course, were critical to the health systems in all three countries whose systems were already on troubled ground before Ebola ravaged west Africa.

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Reporting From Haiti This Week

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This week I am traveling around Haiti reporting on global health issues that affect women and children. In fact, I am writing this post in the back of a SUV with my fixer and translator headed south of Port-au-Prince to visit Social Good Moms’ partner, Midwives for Haiti.

In the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere there are still many challenges that persist in both maternal and child health in Haiti. While malaria cases are relatively in check across the nation there were 15 confirmed cases of Dengue fever in Deschappelles over the past two weeks — all children!

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Can Creative Innovators Drive Global Health and Humanitarian Change?

I am currently in a very small North Carolina town known for a few things: its infamous ballroom that was converted into a world class event space from an old, historic cotton mill, its Gastropub, its craft beer as well as its pristine location on the Haw River about twenty minutes from Chapel Hill.

Haw River

I’m here for the SwitchPoint conference that fuses a combination of music, art, microlabs and 15-minute talks on a wide variety of issues ranging from using drones in humanitarian crises to being implored to add more Africa into our timelines and not excepting the narrow narrative arc of the continent.

SwitchPoint is presented by IntraHealth International, the 35-year-old global NGO that works in innovative ways with health workers in 100 countries. SwithPoint is IntraHealth International’s flagship conference where experts, and storytellers, and doers on the ground (wherever in the world that is) convene for two days for a conversation about ways to partner, collaborate, and innovate on ideas.

After the first day at SwitchPoint I walked away knowing there are new ways to reach online and offline communities with messages that moms want to hear and share – issues that not only affect women and children here in the United States, but globally as well.

We heard from extremely talented innovators, social entrepreneurs and others who are indeed innovating on ideas that are shaping the world really as we know it. The day started with Patrick Meier, who founded the Digital Humanitarian Network. He talked about the worldwide use of drones in places like Namibia for conservation efforts and in Haiti where after Hurricane Sandy drones were used to find standing water and flooding across the island country.

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Kicking Off World Health Worker Week Through Photos and Stories #WHWWeek

To kick off World Health Worker Week (April 5 – 11) we are sharing photos and stories of some of the health workers we’ve met around the world over the years who work tirelessly to keep women, children, and families healthy and most importantly alive.

In the sub-Saharan and Asian countries where we have met these health workers, many of the ailments they treat every day can cause severe illness in their patients and even death. That is why it is important to not only provide the much-needed resources and support health workers need to do their jobs effectively and train many more health workers, it’s also important to thank them for the work they do. That is why World Health Worker Week was started — to celebrate health workers, but also to acknowledge the challenges they face every day and help rally the world’s global health community, civil society, and governments to fix those health worker challenges.

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Botswana Receives First White Space Telemedicine Service to Reach Rural Populations

One of the beautiful aspects of Africa is its beautiful, wide expanses. All over the continent you will be awed by how far-reaching your eyes can see especially when traveling through its spectacular countryside. But as much as it is beautiful, the size of Africa also poses a significant problem because without modern infrastructure, including the Internet, and transport to major cities, those who live in the deepest, far-reaching rural areas are not privy to the best medical care they can receive.

In Botswana, this is about to change.

In partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, Microsoft, the University of Botswana, and other global partners, the Botswana-University Hub (BUP) has launched a new project, “Project Kgolagano,” to bring telemedicine to rural areas in the country to help diagnose maternal health cases as well as HIV, cervical cancer, and TB cases.

Using TV white spaces (unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum) Internet broadband is able to reach even the most remote villages in developing countries. In fact, it has been reported that Microsoft and Google are both chasing white spaces in Africa where only 16 percent of the continent’s population is online. This is where solar power can be game-changing to keep Africa online despite its energy shortcomings. Just look at Kenya where Microsoft helped provide broadband Internet in rural areas even when electricity was nonexistent or very scarce.

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9 Last-Minute Virtual Valentine’s Day Gifts for Good

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If you’re like many of us you may have waited until the very last-minute to buy your loved ones Valentine’s Day gifts. While you can still run out and buy a wealth of flowers, cards, and chocolates, here are nine virtual Valentines’s Day gifts you can give that also give back.

Oxfam Unwrapped: Oxfam recommends giving duos of animals for Valentine’s Day: a pair of chickens ($18), a pair of sheep ($80) or a pair of goats ($100).  Send lovely animals to families in need.

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation: EGPAF is asking its lovely supporters to send Valentine’s Day e-cards to spread awareness about pediatric AIDS. It costs nothing, but the gift of awareness is always key. Click here to spread the love.

Midwives for Haiti: We all believe in the power of saving mothers’ lives. This Valentine’s Day donate to Midwives for Haiti and help them stock their medicinal chest with life-saving medicines for the entire year. Donate with love to Midwives for Haiti.

Vaccine Ambassadors: There is no doubt that vaccines save lives. Vaccines are one of the best ways to show love for children around the world. Buy vaccines with love for children whose lives can be saved by this easy intervention. $10 vaccinates 19 children against the measles.

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USAID Tackles Respectful Maternity Care, Better Working Conditions for Midwives

This week USAID released its follow-up to Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality: USAID Maternal Health
Vision for Action (June 2014) with its new report of the same name with the addition of evidence for strategic approaches. These approaches seek to lower the world’s maternal mortality rate. Right now 289,000 women die per year from complications during child birth.

While it is widely known that MDG 5 will fall short of its overall global goal, USAID has partnered with other leading organizations including the World Health Organization, Maternal Health Task Force, United Nations Population Fund, and the Maternal Child Health Integrated Fund along with representatives from 30 countries  to work on a new set of maternal health goals. Set in April 2014, these organizations are now working towards a global maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 70/100,000 with no country having above a 140 MMR by 2030.

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5 of Our Partners Who Continue to Work in Haiti #Haiti5Years

In an earlier piece today, How is Haiti Faring Five Years After the Earthquake, development and recovery effort data and details were rather pessimistic. The numbers bear out that while some overall development achievements have been met, there is still a long way to go to help Haiti fully recover. And, yet, there continues to be successes all over Haiti. Our partners are helping to make these successes happen.

SOS Children’s Villages 

On January 10, 2015, SOS Children’s Villages opened its third village for orphaned children in Les Cayes, Haiti. 63 children will be provided a home. For over 30 years, SOS Children’s Villages has provided family-based care and education programs in Santo and Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. Immediately following the earthquake SOS Children’s Villages took in 400 orphaned children and fed 24,000 children every day.

“The biggest challenge for SOS Children’s Villages during the earthquake was to find a way to welcome these children because the village was too small,” said Celigny Darius, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages – Haiti. “We installed temporary houses to enable us to take them in.”

In addition to the opening of its third village, SOS Children’s Villages has invested in six schools to renew education on the island. And 3000 children receive support through their community centers.

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Our 12 Biggest Highlights of 2014

2014 was a very good year! We partnered with leading NGOs and nonprofits to advance causes that mean the difference between life and death and quality living for the world’s poorest citizens. We traveled around the world to report on water and sanitation, newborns, maternal health, disaster relief, and health workers. We traveled domestically to report on some of our partners’ milestone seminars, conferences, and panels. But most importantly, we kept the momentum going to work collectively as mothers who use social media for good.

We very much look forward to 2015 and what it has in store. Here are our twelve highlight moments of 2014 – in no particular order.

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Join Ashley Judd In Supporting Health Workers in Haiti

By Ashley Judd, PSI Global Ambassador Virgila is more charismatic and animated than most actors I know. She’s a PSI-trained health worker on the outskirts of Port Au Prince, Haiti. And she’s passionate about her work. She goes door-to-door educating women about the benefits of reversible contraception like the IUD. Giving birth is dangerous business for Haiti’s poor, who suffer the highest maternal mortality rate … Continue reading Join Ashley Judd In Supporting Health Workers in Haiti

Our Top 10 Recommended NGO Videos of 2014

Effective video making is a powerful form of storytelling. Videos, when done well, get to the heart of the matter quickly and leave people wanting to know more, do more, and donate more. These videos encompass all of those things and also made us want to delve more into not only their messages, but also spread the word. Here are our top 10 NGO video … Continue reading Our Top 10 Recommended NGO Videos of 2014