USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Asia

New Estimates Document Decline in Mortality for Children Under 5

By developing and implementing high-impact, evidence-based interventions, delivered at low cost, USAID programs reduced newborn mortality by 16 to 42 percent in 11 these countries. With USAID support, counties as diverse as Nepal, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Afghanistan have reduced under-five mortality by 25 percent in 5 to 7 years.

Death rates in children under 5 are dropping in many countries at an accelerated pace, according to a new report in ‘The Lancet’ based on data from 187 countries from 1970 to 2010. Worldwide, 7.7 million children are expected to die this year down from the 1990 figure of 11.9 million.

Global child survival programs have focused on reaching increased numbers of children with basic health interventions, which scientific research and field programs have demonstrated to reduce the susceptibility of children to serious illnesses. Vaccines, vitamin A supplements, better treatment of diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria, insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria, more education for women, reduced numbers of high risk and closely spaced births, and AIDS medicines in high-HIV prevalence countries are among the factors that have helped lower death rates. USAID has supported much of the research that identified and proved the effectiveness of high-impact interventions, from Oral Rehydration Therapy and vitamin A to community treatment of pneumonia and essential newborn care.

USAID’s work with developing country governments alongside UNICEF, the World Health Organization, World Bank, other donors, NGOs and private sector partners has contributed to successes at an unprecedented global scale. When the U.S. Child Survival program began in the early 1980s, it was estimated that almost 15 million children died each year in the developing world. Without reduced rates of mortality, the number of deaths today would be about 17 million each year. However, The Lancet report notes that, despite significant progress, the rate of decline in infant and child mortality is still not fast enough to meet the 2015 MDG target.  This underscores the importance of the Global Health Initiative’s increased focus on maternal and child health.

Lancet Series Puts Spotlight on Global Tuberculosis Efforts

On May 19th, ‘The Lancet’ released a special series on tuberculosis, which includes a series of papers and comments highlighting the need for new tools, the threat posed by drug-resistant strains, results of current control efforts and other issues about TB worldwide http://www.thelancet.com/series/tuberculosis. While treatment strategies saved six million lives and 36 million cases of the disease were successfully treated between 1995 and 2008, TB remains a severe global public health threat. TB remains second only to HIV among infectious killers worldwide today and is the third leading cause of death among women aged 15-44.

The Lancet series also focused on the broader issues that contribute to the spread of the disease. The majority of TB cases and deaths occur in developing countries. TB proliferates in close spaces, and it perpetuates poverty by striking the poorest and most vulnerable groups. Large numbers of TB cases go undetected and untreated, fueling new cases and deaths. Making matters worse, new forms of the disease have emerged that are resistant to existing drugs. According to the report, without significant investments in new technology and prevention and treatment tools, drug-resistant strains of TB could become the “dominant” form of TB over the coming decades. In addition, new approaches to diagnose TB, coupled with improved health delivery systems and stronger community awareness, are critical to earlier detection and treatment. Urgent actions are also needed to scale up effective and integrated services for TB and HIV at the country level.

On March 24th, the U.S. Government, through USAID, released its Global Tuberculosis Strategy – our blueprint for expanded TB treatment and control over the next five years. To meet our targets, we will invest in country-led plans, scale up country level programs, increase our impact by leveraging our efforts with the Global Fund and mobilize additional resources from the private sector. We will also promote research and innovation. Our investments focus on new diagnostics that will allow us to detect TB more easily, including drug resistant TB, and new drugs that will reduce the duration of TB treatment. Assisting countries to introduce these new tools into programs is also a priority.

A Postcard from Dhaka

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s visit to Bangladesh.

USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, visited Bangladesh May 25-26th to participate in the opening of the Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum, hosted by the Government of Bangladesh and launched by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. During his visit, he met with bilateral and multilateral development partners from the UN, FAO and DFID, as well as with the Prime Minister to discuss development issues and mutual cooperation.  After addressing a press conference where he highlighted President Obama’s new Feed the Future initiative, Dr. Shah met with USAID staff working in the region.

Investing in food security with the Bangladeshi government, private sector, NGOs

Rajiv Shah - Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum - May 2010

Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, speaks at the Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum in Dhaka on May 26, 2010

I’m in Bangladesh today to participate in the Food Security Investment Forum. What a crowd! The Prime Minister, Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, who has shown a strong commitment to food security, spoke this morning, as well as luminaries such as Dr. David Nabarro, Dr. Shenggen Fan, and Dr. John Mellor.

We’ve all come together in Bangladesh because this country represents a situation that we need to address now. The rising population, decreasing availability of land for agricultural production, and the growing adverse consequences due to climate change means we need to think dramatically differently about what it takes to feed the future generations in this country.

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This Week at USAID – May 24, 2010

Currently in Beijing, Administrator Shah is taking part in development-specific talks led by Secretary Clinton at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Later this week, Administrator Shah will be in Dhaka to participate in the Food Security Investment Forum hosted by the Government of Bangladesh.  This forum is a country-specific element of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Development as a discipline in China

I’m in Beijing to take part in the Strategic and Economic Dialogue along with other Obama Administration leaders.

First stop: China Agricultural University where the Agriculture Cadres Training College is preparing the next generation of development professionals.

This is the only university In China to have a discipline in development; it offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field. The visit here was very exciting — there were great questions about Africa and partnerships — and the students were extremely engaging.

Collaborating to Conserve Forests in Southeast Asia

Deforestation in Vietnam

Regional forestry officials met to discuss a common vision to reduce deforestation as part of an activity funded by USAID.

At a U.S.-funded workshop on May 6, representatives from government agencies and non-governmental organizations in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam convened to forge a strategy for preserving the forests of the Lower Mekong. These forests are home to more than 25 million people in Vietnam alone, and are threatened by deforestation and degradation.

Participants at the workshop, which was funded in part by the USAID Asia Regional Biodiversity Conservation Program, discussed current efforts to develop national programs to reduce emissions from deforestation. At the Copenhagen negotiations in December 2009, the United States Government committed $1 billion to support forest conservation efforts.

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USAID Administrator co-chairs discussions with Afghan ministers

USAID Adminstrator co-chairs conference with Afghan Ministers

USAID Administrator co-chairs discussions with Afghan Ministers

This week President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and members of his cabinet are participating in U.S. – Afghanistan Bilateral Discussions in Washington, DC. These discussions are another step in the advancement of a very broad strategic partnership between our two countries. (Our guests have a full agenda this week including a meeting with President Obama, a full day at the State Department and meetings on Capitol Hill, with Think Tanks and the media.)

As part of this effort, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah co-chaired two discussions with Afghan Ministers – the first, on human resource development where the focus was on health and education, and, secondly, a roundtable discussion with

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Afghanistan: Midwives Graduate from Hirat Institute of Health Sciences

U.S. Embassy Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne and Acting Minister of Public Health Dr. Suraya Dalil joined Hirat Governor Yusuf Nuristani and regional Afghan health officials and members of the international donor community at a graduation ceremony for 40 midwives yesterday from the Hirat Institute of Health Sciences.

Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. About every 30 minutes a mother dies giving birth in Afghanistan, and 77 percent of these deaths are due to factors that could be avoided with proper health care. The neonatal mortality rate is also high in Afghanistan, with 60 newborns out of every 1,000 dying in the first month of life. “The Ministry of Public Health will be working to ensure that public health services are available to all Afghans, and maternal child care is one of our biggest concerns,” said Acting Minister of Public Health (MoPH) Dr. Suraya Dalil.

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Kabul Education University Graduates First Class of Master’s Degree Students

A group of 22 Kabul Education University (KEU) students walked across the university’s stage today in front of a packed auditorium at the university campus to become the first KEU students to receive an Afghan Master’s in Education diploma.

The ceremony marked the beginning of a successful U.S. Government-funded post-graduate program at the university, which will enable KEU students to earn a Master’s in Education Degree from KEU without leaving Afghanistan.

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