Book Review: Reframing Poverty: New Thinking and Feeling About Humanity’s Greatest Challenge

Reframing PovertyReframing Poverty by Eric Meade

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poverty in all its multitudinous forms is not an easy subject to broach. An age-old problem, poverty, its root causes, as well as poverty reduction have all been studied and theorized, it seems, ad infinitum. It is not often that someone presents poverty in a more nuanced way than generalized and ubiquitous thinking on poverty. In Reframing Poverty: New Thinking and Feeling About Humanity’s Greatest Challenge, Eric Meade takes a deep dive into how poverty is more of an emotional construct that evokes feeling as opposed to the more widely read and globally accepted set of data points. Meade’s conclusions take some time and thinking to wrap your brain around to be sure. In fact, I had to put this book down several times to keep from seething. I do, however, appreciate new ideas that can be engaged in rather than reading the same poverty reduction principles that seem to keep vulnerable communities trapped in a cycle of poverty with Sisyphean tendencies.

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IKEA Foundation Grants $53 Million to Support Children’s Right to Play

War and conflict. Poverty. Gender discrimination. Growing up too fast. These are just some of the reasons children in some of the poorest countries around the world are not allowed to play. Play makes children healthier and more resilient. It heals some of their greatest wounds and helps them remain kids without growing up too soon. Additionally, play is every child’s fundamental right according to … Continue reading IKEA Foundation Grants $53 Million to Support Children’s Right to Play

Finnish Fashion Designer Creates Maternity Wear for 12-Year-Olds to Highlight Worldwide Child Pregnancy

Child pregnancy is a worldwide blight. Seven million girls in developing countries under the age of 18 become pregnant every year meaning that they have to grow up too soon, put an end to their education, look for adequate healthcare that they can afford, earn money somehow, possibly marry a much older suitor, and figure out a life for her and her child. 11 percent of … Continue reading Finnish Fashion Designer Creates Maternity Wear for 12-Year-Olds to Highlight Worldwide Child Pregnancy

Ensuring Safer Pregnancies for Kenyan Women in Urban Slums

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Antenatal care is important during pregnancy.
Reuters

Blessing Mberu, African Population and Health Research Center; Kanyiva Muindi, African Population and Health Research Center, and Patricia Elungata, McGill University

Globally, there’s a general decline in the number of women who die from pregnancy or childbirth complications. However in Kenya, it remains high at 488
deaths per 100,000 live births. Maternal mortality is a health indicator of the wide gaps
between rich and poor, urban and rural areas within countries.

The lack of appropriate maternal health services and an almost near absence of public health facilities within the slums has led to the reliance on for profit health facilities.

Most of the health facilities available in the slums face challenges like the lack of skilled personnel and necessary equipment to deal with maternal and child health emergencies.

Transport costs and poverty are barriers to proper utilisation of maternal health care services in the slums leading to deaths of mothers during this critical period.

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WATCH: Ed Sheeran Visits Liberia for Red Nose Day

The Red Nose Day campaign to end child poverty returns in the U.S. on Thursday, May 25, in conjunction with a night of special programming and the third annual “Red Nose Day Special” on NBC.

One of the best ways to help vulnerable children in low-and-middle-income countries is by telling their authentic stories to those who can help make their lives a little better.

Along with Comic Relief, Ed Sheeran recently traveled to West Point, one of west Africa’s largest and most dangerous slums, in Liberia’s capital Monrovia. There he saw children whose lives have been routinely ravaged by poverty, the Ebola crisis, and an economy that was devastated by the notorious disease that killed thousands. Today, an estimated 14,000 children (some as young as seven) are living and working on Monrovia’s streets.

In Liberia, Sheeran shot a video set to “What Do I Know,” a track from Ed’s latest album Divide to bring awareness to street kids who live in Monrovia.

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How You Can Help Mothers and Babies in Syria’s Idlib Camps

War is suffocating every corner of Syria and has been for the past several years. In areas that are close to neighboring countries like Idlib province that borders Turkey, Syrians from all over the country are fleeing there for safety believing that those border regions won’t fall under severe air attack. Unfortunately, as we learned last week, that just is not the case. Chemicals, including … Continue reading How You Can Help Mothers and Babies in Syria’s Idlib Camps

Midwives and The Right of Women to Give Birth the Way They Want

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Lydia Mwanzia, Moi University

Giving birth is a significant life event that should aim for a healthy baby and mother. There are growing calls for women to give birth in their preferred birth positions. But this requires midwives to be trained in a way that enables them to respect the choices that women make. The Conversation Africa’s health editor Joy Wanja Muraya asked Lydia Mwanzia to explain why women have the right to make choices, and the important role played by midwives.

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Why The Global Gag Rule Will Increase Maternal Mortality

Throughout my visits to clinics in Africa I have seen the work of Marie Stopes International in South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia as well as Zambia. They provide a full range of quality reproductive health services for women. I have always been impressed by the comprehensive care they provide. Now, their work will be hampered because of an imposed policy of the new administration.

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Marie Stopes International health worker I met in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Jennifer James

Yesterday morning President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, or Mexico City Policy, that prevents international NGOs that accept USAID (taxpayer) money from advocating for the legalization of abortions, provide abortions, mention the word, or even refer women to health practionioners that provide safe, legal abortions.

The Global Gag Rule was instated during the Reagan admininstration in 1984 and since then there has been a virtual seesaw effect between Republican and Democratic administrations regarding whether the Rule is reinstated or revoked. According to the WHO, 78,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions. Under Obama’s eight year administration, that number was reportedly decreased by more than half. Now, that President Trump has signed this executive order reinstating the Global Gag Rule, the fear among the global health community is that that number will rapidly skyrocket again.

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The Troubling Truth About Maternal Mortality in the United States

When everyday Americans think about women dying during childbirth it is probable that their initial thoughts travel directly to Africa where it is quite well known that maternal mortality is rife. Chances are their thoughts never focus on the deaths and near deaths during childbirth that women experience right here in the United States. After all, the overwhelming consensus is that the United States has the best medical care, superior health workers and health system in the world despite some of its inherent challenges. This thinking renders maternal mortality in the US thoroughly inconceivable to many even while data reveal it should not be inconceivable at all. In fact, maternal mortality is on the rise in America having doubled over the past 25 years all while global maternal deaths are steadily declining. Globally, maternal mortality was effectively reduced by 44 percent according to the World Health Organization.

The United States, while not the overall leader in maternal mortality among all countries, it is the leader among all developed nations. The United States ranked number 33 out of 179 countries in Save the Children’s 2015 Mothers’ Index Ranking and 46th in the world due to the rate of women who die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. Compared to other developed countries, the United States’ ranking is abysmal, especially with Norway, Finland, and Iceland ranking in the top three overall. Even countries like Estonia and Belarus, whose GDPs are considerably lower than ours, far outrank America.

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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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What’s Driving sub-Saharan Africa’s Malnutrition Problem?

Jane Battersby, University of Cape Town

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of food insecurity in the world. An estimated 220 million people lack adequate nutrition. The nature of the problem is shifting rapidly, with overweight status and obesity emerging as new forms of food insecurity while malnutrition persists. But continental policy responses do not address this changing reality.

Food insecurity is the outcome of being too poor to grow or buy food. But it’s not just any food. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s definition, people need:

… sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

Current policy focuses on alleviating undernutrition through increased production and access to food. It does not focus on the systemic issues that inform the food choices people make. This may result in worsening food insecurity in the region.

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How We Can Help American Children in Poverty Learn

Infographic_21It may sound cliché, but a child’s future deeply rests on their ability to learn and to be educated. It starts early and it doesn’t matter where a child lives whether it’s in Kenya or the Philippines or right here in the United States.

Oftentimes we see children who live in impoverished countries who desperately need books, schools that are close to their homes, and just the simple right to an education and we are compelled to help. In the United States, too, there are also many poor children who long for books and don’t have access to them. In fact one in five American children live in poverty and do not have one book in their home. This is heartbreaking because books really hold the keys to one’s future, creativity, imagination, and ability to be a productive adult.

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What Are the UN Global Goals?

Asghar Zaidi, University of Southampton

At the end of one of the largest summits at the United Nations headquarters in New York, government representatives from all over the world will sign a commitment to new global development goals. These will replace the millennium development goals, setting objectives for bringing peace and prosperity, and reducing the impact of climate change.

UN member states have agreed on a list of 17 broad goals and 169 more specific targets. These goals are not legally binding but they will be important. They are aimed at eradicating hunger and poverty, while at the same time promoting peace, prosperity, health and education and combating climate change.

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An Update on the Sustainable Development Goals + Key Dates

Today the United Nations released their final assessment (PDF) on the eight Millennium Development Goals that were adopted fifteen years ago. Some of the goals have achieved greater global impact than others. However, the fact remains that more people are not living in poverty, less mothers and infants are losing their lives during childbirth, more people have access to water and sanitation, and more children are living past the age of five as quick examples of the MDGs success.

“The report confirms that the global efforts to achieve the Goals have saved millions of lives and improved conditions for millions more around the world,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the report in Oslo, Norway.

“These successes should be celebrated throughout our global community. At the same time, we are keenly aware of where we have come up short,” he added.

Those eight goals are slated to expire in September and an entirely new set of goals will be voted upon and adopted during the United Nations General Assembly. Now, there are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets on the table that need to be not only understood by civil society and governments and worked toward, but also financed.

What is particularly important about the SDGs is that an open working group with the input of seven million people helped create the framework for the new goals as opposed to a few select experts and member states that created and adopted the MDGs. This is partly why the new SDGs are so far-reaching in their outlook and ambitions. The 17 global goals for sustainable development can be found at globalgoals.org.

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Save the Children Sounds Alarm on Plight of the World’s Urban Poor

When you think about very low- and middle-income countries you might assume that the poor in deep rural pockets in these countries have the highest chance for maternal and infant mortality. That isn’t the case according to Save the Children’s latest State of the World’s Mothers report released today.

The report says that it is the urban poor in countries like Haiti, Somalia, Niger and Mali, for example, who are suffering the most and have less access to health care, nutrition services, sanitation and clean water. Even as child mortality has decreased by 49 percent since 1990, the numbers do not fully tell the entire story. While resources have successfully helped the rural populations, the urban poor continue to suffer from a lack of overall services that will allow them to live and thrive.

“Our new report reveals a devastating child survival divide between the haves and have-nots, telling a tale of two cities among urban communities around the world, including the United States,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children in a statemtn. “For babies born in the big city, it’s survival of the richest.”

New data says there are 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. 860 million people live in urban slums in big cities like Delhi, Nairobi, Rio, and Johannesburg where the disparity between the rich and poor is incredibly stark. In fact, poor children in urban areas are two times more likely to die than their richer peers. In some countries, poor children are up to five times more likely to die before the age of five than their peers in a much higher income bracket.

Slum area - Addis Ababa
Slum area – Addis Ababa

Urban slums continue to grow because poor migrants from rural areas seek jobs in cities. This causes squatter communities and slum-dwelling as well as a perpetual cycle of poverty. These migrants often believe that it is better to live in crowded slums in the city than in their rural home towns because they can at least find work. The tradeoff, however, comes in the form of poor living conditions.

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