• Midwives: An essential resource for ensuring safer deliveries

    Worldwide, we have seen maternal deaths decline in recent years. In no small part, this is due to an underappreciated commitment by a highly valued global human resource: midwives. As the 30th Triennial International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Congress begins in Prague, we must recognize that midwives provide a critical entry point for pregnant women and their newborns to receive life-saving health care services that are respectful and women-centered.

    A range of services is necessary to protect and enhance women’s health and well-being before, during and after a pregnancy. Most maternal deaths are caused by the underlying health conditions of the mother before or during pregnancy, or by poor quality care in the critical hours and days before and after a birth.

    Four key services comprise the continuum of care during pregnancy:

    1. Antenatal care with a skilled provider, ideally to include several visits beginning in the first trimester
    2. Delivery with a skilled attendant, including the routine monitoring of the progression of the delivery and the availability of drugs, such as oxytocin, for the prevention of postpartum hemorrhage
    3. Immediate emergency care for medical complications that arise during pregnancy and childbirth
    4. Postpartum and postnatal care for the mother and baby shortly after birth to ensure both are healthy and that the baby receives essential newborn care while the mother receives family planning counseling

    Midwives throughout the world are capable of providing a range, if not all, of these services. But their role is more crucial in health care systems in low- and middle-income countries. In some regions, midwives are already making a dramatic difference by providing pregnancy and delivery services in low-resource settings. We need to ensure that regions without such midwifery-led services receive equal access.

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  • A version of this post originally appeared on Interagency Youth Working Group’s Half the World Blog. Reposted with permission.
    Why adolescents?

    In 2012, young people ages 15 to 24 accounted for an estimated 40 percent of new nonpediatric HIV infections worldwide [UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2012]. Furthermore, perinatal HIV transmission is a major cause for HIV infection, and given the success of pediatric antiretroviral therapy (ART), many more infants born with HIV are growing up into adolescents and young adults living with HIV.

    While care and treatment programs for people living with HIV (PLHIV) can be found in every country, there is a gap in provision of ongoing, supportive counseling for adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV). Adolescence is often when young people begin having sex, which increases chances that adolescents living with HIV might pass the infection to partners who are HIV negative. Another concern is that girls living with HIV may become pregnant; if they do not know about or have access to services for preventing mother-to-child transmission, they can pass the infection to their babies. Given that adolescents are a large sub-group of those living with HIV, there is a need for tailored interventions and support systems that address adolescents’ unique vulnerabilities.

    Positive Connections

    To shed light on the specific health and social support needs of ALHIV, FHI 360 — on behalf of USAID’s Interagency Youth Working Group — developed a resource called Positive Connections: Leading Information and Support Groups for Adolescents Living with HIV. This unique guide provides facilitators with background information about the needs of ALHIV, tips for starting an adult-led information and support group, 14 sessions to follow in a group setting and guidance on tracking a program’s progress.

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  • On April 15, 2014, FHI 360 and its partners hosted a one-day symposium to discuss challenges and opportunities faced by the noncommunicable diseases (NCD) and HIV/AIDS global communities. Our co-host was the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases. Other collaborators were the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the University College London (UCL) Grand Challenge of Global Health. FHI 360 experts who spoke include:

    • Peter Lamptey, MD, DrPH, MPH, Distinguished Scientist and President Emeritus
    • Timothy Mastro, MD, DTM&H, Director, Global Health, Population and Nutrition
    • Tricia Petruney, MA, Senior Technical Officer
    • Kwasi Torpey, MD, PhD, MPH, Technical Director, Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services, Nigeria

    View the presentations from the symposium to hear our experts’ and partners’ perspectives on how these different disease communities can work together for more common, efficient and cost-effective strategies in the prevention and control of NCDs and HIV.

  • What it takes to wipe out malaria

    Many tourists know Siem Reap, Cambodia, as the base for exploring the beautiful 12th-century ruins at Angkor Wat. But when Melinda and I stopped there last week, we weren’t thinking about visiting a historic site. In fact we may have been the first visitors who ever passed through Siem Reap and skipped the temples completely.

    We were on our way to see another piece of history in the making — Cambodia’s effort to eliminate malaria from within its borders. What we saw may eventually point the way toward a goal that’s shared by many of us in the global health community: eradicating malaria.

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  • Making a difference on World Asthma Day

    What would you do if someone next to you — on the bus, on the subway, in line at the grocery store or at the gym — suddenly had trouble breathing because of asthma?

    You would help.

    But what if you could help that person with a few clicks of your mouse before he or she lost a single breath?

    This Asthma Awareness Month (May) and World Asthma Day (May 6), you can.

    How? By taking the following actions to spread the message that asthma — a chronic lung disease that can be disabling or deadly and affects 1 in 12 people in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHBLI) — can be controlled with proper treatment.

    • Thunderclap: Get Asthma Aware
      Join the NHLBI’s Asthma Thunderclap by 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time today (May 6) to increase asthma awareness. Using Thunderclap, you can share your message about asthma through your favorite social media channels in a single stroke.
    • Twitter chat: Coping with Asthma
      U.S. News and the NHLBI will co-host a Twitter chat about coping with asthma on May 14, 2:00–3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Join us and follow the chat by using #AsthmaChat.

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  • AIDSWatch 2014: Science and advocacy coming together

    What is AIDSWatch?

    AIDSWatch is an annual event in DC. Hundreds of people come from across the United States to educate members of Congress and other senior government officials about the impact of HIV in their communities and lives and to discuss strategies for ending the HIV epidemic. Public health officials, policy advocates, leaders from community-based organizations and people living with HIV seek to gain vital support for lifesaving programs and services.

    The event includes a briefing on key policy issues and HIV-related programs, scheduled visits with members of Congress and the Positive Leadership awards reception. Participants learn about the budget and appropriations process, critical programs serving people with HIV — such as the Ryan White CARE Act and the Affordable Care Act — and effective HIV prevention strategies. The event includes a “telling your story” session to help participants communicate their experience to policymakers and networking sessions to share resources.

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  • Listen to the talking baby: Breastfeeding is a smart idea

    As children fare, so do nations. An investment in the well-being, health, and development of children today will be reflected in the health and development of their communities and nations. A smart investment in the future saves lives, saves money, and can be scaled up to reach children, wherever they are.

    Breastfeeding is a smart investment.

    Nutrition during the 1,000 days of a mother’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday is a critical window of opportunity to give a child a healthy start at life. And beginning from birth, breastfeeding offers food security for infants and young children everywhere. Evidence shows that improving breastfeeding practices could save the lives of 800,000 children annually, and millions more would benefit from the increased immunity and nutrition breast milk provides.

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  • A core part of FHI 360’s mission is to improve the overall health of communities around the world. Our scientists work across disciplines to improve outcomes and develop interventions that have the greatest impact. FHI 360 has been at the forefront of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and also provides leadership to address the emerging global health issue of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Given that the needs of NCD and HIV programming often intersect, FHI 360 integrates accessible and affordable clinical care and prevention for NCDs with HIV programs.

    On April 15, 2014, FHI 360 and its partners will host a one-day symposium to discuss challenges and opportunities faced by the NCD and HIV global communities. Our co-host in this live-streamed event is the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases. Other collaborators are the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the University College London (UCL) Grand Challenge of Global Health. The purpose of the symposium is to bring together policymakers, nongovernmental organizations and researchers to explore how the NCD and HIV communities can collaborate for more common, efficient and cost-effective strategies in the prevention and control of NCDs and HIV.

    One of the speakers at the symposium will be Peter R. Lamptey, MD, DrPH, MPH, FHI 360 Distinguished Scientist and President Emeritus. Dr. Lamptey, who leads FHI 360’s NCD initiatives, is a member of the Lancet Commission on the Future Health of Africa. He recently joined a group of leading experts to write The Road to 25×25: How Can the Five-Target Strategy Reach its Goal?, which recently appeared in the journal The Lancet Global Health. The article discusses the emerging global epidemic of NCDs and offers strategies that the World Health Organization (WHO) can use to meet its target of a 25 percent relative reduction in NCD mortality by 2025. It also provides insights as to how WHO and the global community can work together to address WHO’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013–2020.

    Go here to register for an online ticket to the symposium. Tomorrow at 9:00am BST, you can watch a live stream of the event here. A full recording of the event will be made available later in the week. Visit our website to learn more about FHI 360’s work in NCDs, HIV/AIDS and other areas of health.

  • Creating pathways to health careers through mentorship

    Mentors can make a huge difference in the lives of young people. I have learned that firsthand in the last five years as a volunteer mentor for students in the Bridge to Employment (BTE) program in Wilmington, Delaware.

    The BTE program, funded by Johnson & Johnson and managed by FHI 360, helps students from disadvantaged communities learn about health careers and what they need to do to enter these fields. Higher education, whether through a four-year college or a two-year technical degree, is often the outcome. A key element of the program is providing one-on-one mentoring to students to ensure college-bound students enroll and succeed.

    I usually meet my mentee, Kevin, once a week. We talk about school, homework, BTE activities and how he will achieve his goals. Kevin started out as an average student, doing only what he needed to do to get by in school. After more than two years in BTE, Kevin has learned public speaking skills, confidence and more about careers and the college education he will need to achieve his goals. Now, he is an honor roll student and president of his senior class. Lately, our conversations revolve around which college Kevin will attend and what financial supports he will need.

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  • The Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III (FANTA) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and managed by FHI 360, recently released Strengthening Nutrition in Ghana: A Report on FANTA Activities from 2007 to 2013.

    The report summarizes FANTA’s work in Ghana over the past six years. This work, which focused on strengthening nutrition programs and services and on integrating nutrition services into the Ghanaian health system, was carried out in collaboration with the Ghana Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders.

    The project had three main objectives:

    1. Introduce community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) and scale up integrated CMAM services within the existing Ghanaian health system
    2. Introduce nutrition assessment, counseling and support (NACS) and scale up integrated NACS services within existing HIV and tuberculosis service delivery
    3. Strengthen maternal and child health and nutrition services through advocacy, coordination and the development of a national nutrition policy

    By November 2013, 1,023 facilities were providing community-based management of acute malnutrition services, 15,025 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition and 18,688 people living with HIV received nutrition assessment and counseling — achievements that all resulted from FANTA training and programming.

    In addition to describing FANTA’s activities and achievements, the report offers a description of the challenges that the project worked to address, as well as recommendations and lessons learned on improving service nutrition delivery and eliminating malnutrition in Ghana.