Congressional Black Maternal Health Caucus Launches on Capitol Hill

On Tuesday the first congressional caucus on black maternal health launched on Capitol Hill. Led by Democrat congresswomen Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) and freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Il.) the caucus’s mission is to ensure black women are not dying senselessly during or after childbirth

As has been noted here many times before black women experience maternal mortality rates four times higher than white mothers no matter black women’s socioeconomic status or even the level of education achieved. In general, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. Black women fare the worst.

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11 Maternal Health Organizations to Support This Year

Maternal mortality continues to be a major problem the world over. The United States is the only developed country where maternal death rates are increasing especially for non-Hispanic black women. And in low-and-middle income countries, approximately 830 women die each day from pregnancy-related, preventable causes.

Maternal health organizations are working diligently to save more mothers’ lives, but one death is still too many especially when it is likely preventable. I like to list organizations that you can support with donations in order to help them keep more women and their children alive on the local level and make sure mothers are a part of their families’ lives.

This list highlights local organizations that help some of the most vulnerable communities in countries with some of the highest maternal mortality rates. And, in the cases of the United States and Australia, the organizations help the communities that experience the most maternal deaths. Each site allows direct donations that go directly to maternal care and/or advocacy.

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January Is Birth Defects Prevention Month: Are Local Health Departments Ready?

Q&A with NACCHO Board Member Sandra Elizabeth Ford, MD, MPH
Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health

A baby is born with a birth defect in the United States every 4.5 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Birth defects are defined as any structural changes present at birth that affect how the body looks, works, or both, and they can vary from mild to severe. While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are concrete steps pregnant mothers can take to increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.  In honor of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the CDC released a resource guide providing pregnant moms tips for preventing birth defects.

In addition to guidance provided by CDC, many local public health departments provide prenatal care for expectant moms. Below is Q&A with National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Board Member Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health in Georgia.  NACCHO represents the nation’s 3,000 local health departments.

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The 3 stages of Giving: Deference, Arrogance and Inquiry

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Great minds don’t always think alike.
Lightspring/Shutterstock.com

Jennifer A. Jones, University of Florida

If you had US$1 million to give to charities aiming to eradicate poverty, how would you do it?

Would you support a soup kitchen? A financial literacy program? Educational scholarships? Organizations pressing for policy changes?

I worked for nonprofits for many years before realizing the way I approached solving social problems said more about me than it did about the problem I wanted to solve. If I really wanted to make a difference, I had to think about how I was thinking about the problem. And, if I wanted to make a difference at a broader level, I had to help donors and nonprofit leaders think about how they think.

Nonprofit fundraisers consider many demographic characteristics to explain and predict charitable giving, such as age, gender, income, and marital and parental status. As far as I could tell, no scholars had considered “how people think” as a category worth considering.

My quest led me to obtain my Ph.D. and learn to analyze how an individual’s thinking changes over time. Along the way, I found that how people construct their ideas influences their philanthropic choices, and that how donors think is as important as what they think.

How donors think

Human beings develop increasingly complex ways of making sense of the world over the course of a lifetime. To a large extent, this is intuitive – you probably expect a 20-year-old to think about many things differently than a 50-year-old. How people think, however, is largely unconscious. People are rarely aware of how they are thinking in the moment.

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How World Vision Promotes Breastfeeding in the Philippines

I am always happy when World Breastfeeding Week rolls around each year. It gives me a chance to hear about the latest programs that are working around the world to increase breastfeeding rates. This year I learned about how World Vision is promoting breastfeeding in the Philippines through its 7-11 Core Intervention Framework which includes 7 interventions for women and 11 for children 0 – 24 months of age.

The way in which we discuss breastfeeding is different depending on the country and the context. While in the United States we talk a lot about infant feeding choices, in other countries, especially those that have thousands upon thousands of yearly infant deaths caused by diarrheal diseases, infections, and sub-optimal feeding, the context changes. In these cases, it is nearly always critical that mothers breastfeed their children up to two years of age.

In the Philippines, parents spend $240 million on breast milk substitutes and multinational formula feeding companies spend $100 million on marketing in the Philippines alone. Those numbers account for the fact that only 34% of infants under the age of six months are exclusively breastfed. While providing the best start in life for infants, many mothers are convinced that formula is better and easier for their lifestyles. But, often times women in low-and-middle-income countries like the Philippines do not always have access to clean water for formula. Dirty water can cause deadly diarrheal diseases that kill infants.

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3 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Give to Your Favorite Cause

Oftentimes when we think of giving to charity we get stuck on the charity we want to help and the best way we can donate funds to their worthy cause. Do we want to donate on their web site, via their app, on Facebook, or even send them a check? Do they have a special campaign going on? Will there be matching funds? Where does your money go anyway?

There is a lot to consider when donating to a cause that is dear to you. We want to make donating a little easier with three incredibly simple ways you can give to a charity you love.

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5 Organizations to Support During South Sudan’s Famine

In February the United Nations officially declared a famine in South Sudan. What is most disheartening about this most recent famine in the world’s youngest country is it’s largely man-made. Constant infighting among South Sudanese opposition forces and the government makes growing crops nearly impossible. And, the instability in the country continues to drive up food costs. 100,000 people are directly suffering from famine, and … Continue reading 5 Organizations to Support During South Sudan’s Famine

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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Another Easy Way to Give Water for Good

Water issues continue to be front and center of global health and development goals. In fact, 783 million people today do not have sustainable access to clean, safe water. While there have been notable strides in providing access to water to regions in need around the world, that need is still astronomical.

Many NGOs and companies are on the frontlines of working towards ensuring communities have access to water. One such company is GIVN.

GIVN, a certified B-Corporation based in Chicago, provides water to communities in need through its three key partners: Water.org, Water is Basic, and UNICEF’s Tap Project. For every bottle of GIVN water you buy, one person will receive a full day of water. To date, GIVN’s sales have provided 800,000 days of clean water to communities in need.

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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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Why The Eagle Huntress Is An Empowering Film for Young Girls

The Eagle Huntress narrated by Daisy Ridley follows the wonderful story of a teenage girl named Aisholpan who becomes the first eagle huntress in Mongolia.

We are introduced to Aisholpan at a boarding school located in a small town miles from her nomadic home because schools are quite far from where she lives. It’s the last day of school for that week and Aisholpan is taken home by her father on his moped. Her family are nomads that live in a simple circular hut in the midst of a vast barren plain edged by beautiful, rocky mountains. Her family consists of Aisholpan’s younger sister and brother, her mother, and her father.

Her father is one of the few remaining eagle hunters in Mongolia. For centuries Mongolian men caught eaglets, raised them, and used them to hunt for food to support their families. Since Aisholpan was a little girl she loved watching her father put on the eagle hunters’ garb and go out in search of food from rabbits to foxes. In fact, it was one of her joys to help her father with his eagle. As she grew older her father allowed her to play with his eagle as he saw her keen interest in becoming a hunter.

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Announcing #MaternalHealthChat Starting November 8 With Jacaranda Health

We are very pleased and excited to announce our new weekly chats all about maternal health with some of the leading maternal health experts, researchers, practitioners, and organizations in the world under the #maternalhealthchat hashtag. Starting on Tuesday, November 8 at 1 PM EST with Jacaranda Health we will host 30-minute chats each week all about maternal and reproductive health as well as the health of newborns. We will dig … Continue reading Announcing #MaternalHealthChat Starting November 8 With Jacaranda Health

5 Ways This NGO is Helping Nepal’s Women Waste Workers

Nepal, while being a hotbed for adventure seekers, trekkers, tourists, and mountaineers, faces many economic struggles that heavily plague low-and-middle income countries. The vast majority of Nepal’s economy is based on remittances with 25 percent of its working population living outside of the country. Additionally, with an average population age of 23, Nepal has a dismal 50 percent unemployment rate. These systemic economic struggles, of course, disproportionately affect women and subsequently their children and families. Couple that with a stringent caste system and some Nepali women remain inherently stuck on the lowest rung of the class ladder and are subject to some of the basest forms of work available to them.

The Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI), a youth-driven environmental NGO based in Kathmandu, is working with some of these women whose only other economically viable life option may be selling themselves sexually to the nearest customer, working in the illegal scrap waste trade, or going abroad to find work and then enduring whatever fate awaits them. HCI employs socially discriminated women waste workers at its PET Bottle Recollection Social Enterprise (Nagar Mitra) allowing them to create a livelihood beyond what might traditionally befall them.

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After Earthquake, Nepal Sees NGO Paradigm Shift

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.

The world of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is vast and growing if you live in Nepal. Some experts estimate there is a whopping 50,000 registered NGOs (PDF) in the country, a steep increase since an NGO registration change in 1992. With that change, groups of individuals joined together in droves to create organizations to fight the languishing poverty in Nepal, a country that has been classified by the United Nations as one of the world’s least developed countries since 1971. Experts also attribute the increase of Nepalese NGOs to the country’s small private enterprise sector. Most Nepalis believe the only way they can make money is through civil society where tens of millions of dollars flow through Nepal’s civil sector every year.

While many organizations follow the safe blueprint of how NGOs should operate, there are some that are devising innovative ways in which to help communities at their most basic level, especially after the earthquakes that rocked the landlocked country caused nearly 9,000 fatalities nationwide last year. The earthquakes shocked the country and exposed immense disaster relief vulnerabilities of the government as well as the throngs of NGOs that were not prepared to handle a major natural disaster.

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Nepali Women Increase Earning Potential Through Business Training #5by20

The energy and enthusiasm was palpable as we walked into a room full of eager women entrepreneurs role-playing the everyday dynamic between business owners and their customers. While the room was loaded with fun and laughter during this exercise, its importance was not lost on any of the women who had come to the campus of Coca-Cola Bottlers Nepal Limited’s (BNL) 5by20 training, an initiative to empower 10,000 women business owners across Nepal by 2020. Even though these women are already a part of Kathmandu’s bustling community of urban shop owners, they had come because they realized there are more business skills to learn, hone, and improve. And, as women in micro-enterprise the more skills they learn, the more they can earn for their households in a country where men overwhelmingly dominate the private sector.

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Pallavi Gautam, Senior Executive, Public Affairs and Communication (PAC) at Bottlers Nepal Limited conducts a 5by20 training on September 13 in Kathmandu.

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