FEATURED POST

Integrated development: Advancing the conversation

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Health

Ending the AIDS epidemic

Fast Track: Ending the AIDS Epidemic by 2030

 
To mark World AIDS Day, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) recently launched its annual report on the state of HIV/AIDS globally. This year’s report, Fast Track: Ending the AIDS Epidemic by 2030, presents new targets to avert 28 million new HIV infections and end the AIDS epidemic as a global threat by 2030.

The new UNAIDS “fast-track” approach emphasizes the need to focus on the counties, cities and communities most affected by HIV and recommends that resources be concentrated on the areas with the greatest impact.

The report also contains the latest data on the state of the epidemic globally.

More details about the report are available, including a press release, a fact sheet, infographics and social media messaging.

Follow #FastTrack and @UNAIDS to join the conversation.

Economic DevelopmentHealth

UNFPA’s State of World Population 2014 report

SWOP2014The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently launched the 2014 State of World Population report, which focuses on the vital role of adolescents and youth in the economic and social progress of developing countries. The Power of 1.8 Billion: Adolescents, Youth and the Transformation of the Future makes the point that young people matter.

According to the report, nine in 10 of the world’s 1.8 billion young people live in less developed countries, where the young encounter obstacles to education, health and a life free from violence. Without intervention, many of these young people may never realize their full potential.

Follow #SWOP2014 to join in the conversation.

Learn more about The State of World Population 2014.

Economic DevelopmentTechnology

Moving forward in Asia through mobile financial services

By Josh Woodard, Regional ICT and Digital Finance Specialist, mSTAR

Josh WoodardThe World Bank estimates that about 2.5 billion people worldwide lack a formal bank account at a financial institution. In most of the countries where development organizations operate, the need for safe and affordable financial services is quite high. At the same time, mobile phone ownership continues to expand rapidly: Recent estimates by GSMA Intelligence put unique mobile phone subscriptions at more than 3.6 billion people globally. It is no wonder that articles in The Wall Street Journal and The Economist have recently proclaimed that mobiles offer a promising path for the world’s unbanked to gain financial inclusion.

More than 100 experts gathered at the Mondato Asia Summit last week in Singapore to discuss mobile financial services in emerging Asia. Participants heard from big names like Google, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, Amazon, MetLife, Uber, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, as well as from several companies that you may not have heard of yet but will likely soon, such as mHITS, a global mobile money remittance service, and Gatecoin, the first global digital currency exchange.

Speaker after speaker at the summit emphasized the importance of putting the customer first — commonly referred to as human-centered or user-centered design — in the development of any mobile financial service. It seems fairly self-evident that products should be designed based on what users want. Apple was touted as the gold standard for designing products based on an acute understanding of their customers’ wants, needs and aspirations. Yet, as anyone who has ever found themselves desperately trying to speak to a live person on a bank’s automated phone system knows, this is not always the case. (more…)

Education

Study tours address school violence prevention in El Salvador

By Marc Weinstein, Project Manager, and Jim Hahn, Program Officer, FHI 360

This blog is part of FHI 360’s observation of International Education Week, which is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education and an annual opportunity to highlight the benefits of international education and exchange.

Violence is one of the greatest challenges facing youth in El Salvador today. By 2011, gang activity and organized crime had entered more than 300 schools across the country, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). To prevent school violence, FHI 360 has conducted a series of week-long study tours as part of the USAID Education for Children and Youth Program, which has been working in El Salvador since 2013.

To date, three tours have brought approximately 50 principals, Ministry of Education officials and other education stakeholders to Washington, DC, to explore best practices for improving the educational opportunities for Salvadoran youth living in areas with high rates of violence. The tours promote positive relations between the U.S. and El Salvador and specifically aim to strengthen Salvadoran society through secondary education reform. Participants have explored models for combating high education dropout rates, preventing school violence and creating safe spaces for youth.

The large Salvadoran population in Washington, DC, provides a unique opportunity for the participants to learn how youth from El Salvador and of Salvadoran descent are faring in U.S. schools. (more…)

Health

A private-sector intervention addresses leading cause of child mortality

A Q&A with Saikat Mukhopadhyay, Project Director, Diarrhea Alleviation through Zinc and Oral Rehydration Therapy (DAZT), FHI 360

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization recommend using oral rehydration salts (ORS) and zinc to treat diarrhea, a leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age worldwide. Under the Diarrhea Alleviation through Zinc and ORS Therapy (DAZT) project, FHI 360 is working with the private sector in the Indian states of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh to increase the uptake of zinc and ORS treatment. In this Q&A, Saikat Mukhopadhyay discusses the DAZT project’s unique approach.

Q: How has DAZT’s partnership with the private sector led to better health outcomes in maternal and child health?

Photo: Jessica Scranton/FHI 360

A: In India, it is important to reach patients through the private sector. At the onset of the project, we conducted a survey that showed that only approximately 67 percent of the people afflicted with diarrhea sought medical treatment, and of this population, more than 80 percent went to a private practitioner. Moreover, in rural and impoverished areas there is a lack of formal medical facilities for those seeking care and treatment for diseases such as diarrhea.

We are trying to ensure that rural populations receive the best treatment for diarrhea. In order to do that, we must reach the private, rural medical providers (RMPs) who are providing the majority of patient care, especially at the bottom of the economic pyramid. RMPs are not formal doctors, but follow doctors’ patterns for prescribing medicine. They frequently do not have up-to-date information on the most effective ways to treat diarrhea in children. They often prescribe only antibiotics and antidiarrheals, which can be harmful.

To change this, we started by encouraging formal doctors to prescribe zinc and ORS. We then worked with RMPs to change their prescribing behavior. (more…)

Economic DevelopmentGenderHealth

Multiple pathways to women’s economic empowerment

By Andrea M. Bertone, Director, Gender Department, FHI 360

A version of this blog originally appeared on WomenThrive.org. You can view the original, which appeared on November 10, 2014, here. Reprinted with permission.

Andrea BertoneAt FHI 360, we take a 360-degree perspective to addressing the most complex human development needs. We envision many pathways to girls’ and women’s economic empowerment — through education; training; access to resources; and the elimination of social, political and gender-related barriers.

To increase equality between girls, boys, women and men, we believe that a gender perspective has to be integrated into every aspect of all development programs.

FHI 360 supports women and girls living in poverty, through cutting-edge interventions in health, nutrition, education and economic development interventions. Not only are we implementing some of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) flagship projects on HIV care, prevention and support — we are also working with multiple donors implementing girls’ education projects as a pathway out of poverty.

We are addressing women’s poverty in value chains, small and medium businesses, and micro-lending and savings and loan activities. Equally important, we work to engage men and boys as partners and agents of positive social change.

Why prioritize attention on women and girls? For FHI 360, it comes down to three simple reasons:

  • It is the right thing to do.
  • It improves project outcomes.
  • FHI 360 has strong political will to do so at all levels of the organization.

We aim to impact in the short, medium and long term the lives of women and girls in many countries. We want to improve women’s and girls’ current access to resources, their economic empowerment, their levels of education and their resiliency in the face of hardship. (more…)

Economic DevelopmentHealthTechnology

Technology alone is not enough

By Patrick Fine, Chief Executive Officer, FHI 360

A version of this post originally appeared here on the InterAction blog. Reposted with permission.

Patrick FineIn 1879, Thomas Edison unveiled his incandescent light bulb. Within six years, electric power had spread across the nation and ignited an explosion of invention that created new industries and thousands of jobs and transformed every aspect of society. A century later, in 1978, Steve Jobs introduced the Apple personal computer and unleashed another wave of innovation that reaffirmed our faith in the power and potential of technology to drive human progress.

I was reminded just how high our expectations are for technology at two events in September: the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Frontiers of Development conference and the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting, each of which showcased inventions, tools and concepts to improve public health and raise living standards. A few of the breakthrough innovations highlighted at these events or in recently announced grants include:

Health

Making the connection between vasectomy, family planning goals and development

By Dominick Shattuck, Scientist, Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, FHI 360

Dominick ShattuckWorld Vasectomy Day offers an opportunity to consider how vasectomy can contribute to development. This underused contraceptive method is particularly important as countries work toward achieving the Family Planning 2020 goals, which include providing an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s 69 poorest countries with access to voluntary family planning information, services and supplies by 2020.

The number 120 million is a lot of women and girls to reach, and it raises an important question: What role do men play in achieving this target?

Robust family planning initiatives protect women’s and children’s health, help fight HIV infection, reduce abortion and give women control over when they become pregnant.1 When experts and leaders from 150 countries gathered for the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, they recognized that providing comprehensive access to contraceptives is both beneficial and achievable. They identified metrics to measure their success.

Vasectomy programs can make a strong contribution to fulfilling the Family Planning 2020 goals while allowing men to more fully participate in family planning. Vasectomy is safe, effective and one of the least expensive contraceptive methods.2 Vasectomies are provided more quickly — and are safer— than female sterilization.3 (more…)

Health

The power of political will in the fight against malaria

By Halima Mwenesi, Technical Advisor, FHI 360

Mwensi Halima“A lack of political will” is often cited as an impediment to the delivery of health care in the developing world and a factor that stymies the fight against many of the preventable diseases the world is grappling with, including malaria. It is commonly perceived that countries fail to prioritize health care delivery, depend totally on donor aid and generally do not own the fight.

My experience working with African leaders proved the opposite. I recently completed a two-year detail with the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Secretariat, an organization that has successfully generated political will to control malaria on the continent. I assisted in establishing the ALMA office in Africa, a job that also involved liaising with member-country ministries of health and representing ALMA’s voice.

ALMA came to life in 2009 when forward-looking heads of states, led by His Excellency President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania, demonstrated ground-breaking leadership and political will by taking ownership of the malaria problem. They made a commitment to holding themselves accountable to their citizens and the global community on this important issue. (more…)

Health

In Africa, tobacco presents a looming threat to healthy living

By Peter Lamptey, FHI 360 Distinguished Scientist and President Emeritus

A version of this blog originally appeared on Devex. You can view the original, which appeared on November 3, 2014, here. Reprinted with permission.

A non-smoking decal. Tobacco usage is one of the leading causes of preventable death. Photo by: SmartSign / CC BY

In 2013, The Network of African Science Academies, in collaboration with the United States National Academies, convened a committee of 16 diverse experts, including me, to discuss the current state of tobacco use, prevention and control policies in Africa.

The committee’s findings, recently published in Preventing a Tobacco Epidemic in Africa, were alarming: Without comprehensive tobacco prevention and control policies, smoking prevalence in Africa will increase by nearly 39 percent by 2030, from 15.8 percent in 2010 to 21.9 percent. While tobacco use and tobacco-attributable mortality rates in Africa are currently among the lowest in the world, data indicate that without intervention, this situation will change dramatically for the worse.

The committee’s report also revealed some startling findings about tobacco as it relates to Africa’s women and youth. Though fewer African women smoke, they are disproportionately affected by tobacco through not only the direct effects of smoking, but also secondhand smoking and the secondary effect of smoking on pregnant women and their fetuses. African youth, meanwhile, represent the largest potential market for tobacco, and levels of smoking in this highly vulnerable population will continue to rise as aggressive tobacco marketing encourages the uptake of smoking. Both women and youth are also targets of covert messaging from the tobacco industry that is designed to mainstream smoking behavior as an element of evolving social norms and empowerment.

Read the remainder of the blog here.