Every day 800 women die during childbirth or from pregnancy complications. This startling statistic represents women who not only live in sub-Saharan Africa where most maternal deaths occur but also throughout the world. In order to reduce the number of maternal deaths in low- and middle-income countries across the globe design teams, social entrepreneurs, innovators, and NGOs are creating innovative ways in which to save more … Continue reading 5 Maternal Health Interventions That Save Mothers’ Lives
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Amos Emmanuel Kakere really wanted to undergo voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). A slight young man who looked far younger than his mere 24 years, Kakere, who is married and lives in Mhango village in Tanzania’s Shinyanga region, opted to undergo the procedure after seeing a large VMMC mobile field clinic near his village. The clinic, housed in a large, deployable tent and powered by … Continue reading Looking at Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision in the Field
Every day 800 women die from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth. That is 292,000 women too many each year. One of the ways in which this statistic can be reduced is by simply encouraging women in low- and middle-income countries to deliver in health facilities with skilled health workers. That sounds simple enough, but it has been challenging. The number of midwives in most sub-Saharan countries, for example, desperately needs to be scaled up and in some cases health facilities and hospitals are too far for women who live in the deepest rural areas to reach. In these cases many women still prefer delivering at home which, of course, poses untold dangers to her life and the life of her baby.
But there is an underlying factor that many don’t address nearly enough that perpetually forces women to choose delivery at home over a health facility: the harsh treatment they receive from nurses and midwives at the health facilities.
It has been documented time and again that African health workers in particular can be bluntly unsympathetic and insensitive to women who are in labor and delivery. Just listen to the health worker in this mini-documentary, Birth is a Dream. At 5:00 you hear a woman crying uncontrollably during delivery and then you hear the female health worker tell her harshly, “Excuse me, there is nothing to cry like that as if they are beating you. Will you relax? Let the midwife do what’s she’s supposed to do!”
When I was in Zambia two months ago I met a phenomenal nurse, Susan Banda, who treats women who have cervical cancer in the N’Gombe compound in Lusaka. She diagnoses and treats twenty-five women a day and says that she is increasingly seeing more cases of cervical cancer, especially in women who are HIV positive. Her work is so selfless I made a video about … Continue reading It’s Time for the REAL Awards Again
In speaking to health workers while on an observation trip to Ethiopia this month with Save the Children I repeatedly asked about access to medial supplies – from family planning supplies to medications for malaria, for example – and every health worker in every village I asked said the supplies were plenty. They were quite nonchalant about my inquiries, in fact, which signaled to me that whatever … Continue reading Counting Medical Supplies in Africa
As you gear up for another week here are a few must-reads about global news and development I recommend. African women won’t wield political influence without cultural change: This article from today’s Guardian highlights the quota system put in place in many African countries that require a certain percentage of female representation in government. Read more to see whether these quotas work or are largely … Continue reading Sunday’s Global News and Development Must-Reads