USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Global Health

How You’re About to Help Save the Lives of 4 million Children

You may not know that the leading killers of children in the poorest countries are diarrhea and pneumonia.  You almost certainly don’t know that your contributions can help save the lives of 4 million children – many because of the introduction of two new vaccines to protect against those diseases.

Last week, I was in Rwanda, helping the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization plan the introduction of vaccines for rotavirus and pneumococcal diseases, major causes of diarrhea and pneumonia.  With your support as well as corporations, foundations, and countries rich and poor, GAVI, will save the lives of 4 million children in the next five years.

That sounds ambitious, but it’s very doable – and you’re a big part of the reason. With your help, GAVI supported childhood immunization in poor countries over the last 10 years, saving the lives of 5.4 million children, and shielding millions more from the long-term effects of illness on growth and development.

The U.S. has been a leader in immunization, but we can’t do it alone. Working with and through groups like GAVI helps ensure that other donor countries, companies and foundations, as well as developing countries themselves, all contribute their share: a global solution to a global problem. In addition to the U.S., fourteen other countries and the European Union are donors, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also a generous supporter.

People have been a big part of that success as well. GAVI has had strong, high-level leadership – the Rwanda meeting marked the last for Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland who served as chair of GAVI’s board, who deserves thanks for her advocacy. Norway has been a global leader in the fight to immunize children in the poorest countries, and its former health minister, Dagfinn Hoybraten, took over as chair – underlining Norway’s continuing commitment.

U.S. leadership isn’t just a matter of money.  The expertise of people at USAID has been crucial as well.  Since the ‘70s, USAID professionals have worked with partners across the globe to confront the challenge of vaccine-preventable diseases and help immunize children in remote parts of the world.  Working with an efficient partner like GAVI that mobilizes resources from other countries, foundations and companies multiplies the impact of U.S. expertise, as well as dollars.

GAVI is a model for the new approach the U.S. is taking through the Global Health Initiative: an innovation approach, a public-private partnership seeking innovative sources of finance for vaccines for poor countries, investing in children, with a clear focus on measurable results.  GAVI is a true partnership, accomplishing more than any nation could do on its own, and doing it efficiently, with a small staff.

As the U.S. expands the life-saving impact of our global health assistance through the Global Health Initiative announced by President Obama, our support for immunization will continue, because it is one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives and promote health.  Reaching children with this simple, affordable intervention is one of the smartest investments in global health – and the right thing to do.  And we can do it in a way that builds national systems, so they won’t need help forever.

These times demand that we provide more health for the money we invest in global health. Despite the success of immunization programs, vaccine-preventable diseases are still estimated to cause more than 2 million deaths every year.

We will help because compassion is a fundamental American value — and so is efficiency in using the resources we have, innovation to make those resources go further, and realism to know we can’t do it all by ourselves.  Working with and through GAVI, we have changed the future of millions of children and families. That’s effective, efficient realistic compassion, and it’s worth doing more.

Zambia: Where the Roads End, Logistics Continue

During the rainy season, an ox cart is the only reliable way to get health commodities across the flooded plains to rural health centers in Zambia’s Western province. Photo Credit: USAID/Zambia

Mwanawina Rural Health Center is located approximately 80 kilometers from Mongu, the capital of Zambia’s Western province. Each year, during the rainy season, the facility becomes inaccessible by motor vehicles.

To get drugs and medical supplies to the health center, the District Health Office hires an ox cart—the only reliable transport through the flooded plains between December and June. The journey takes no less than six hours.

With its expertise in logistics, particularly in challenging environments, the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT is partnering with Zambia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to help bring drugs and medical supplies to patients by strengthening the supply chain.

In the Western province, the project trains health center staff in logistics and provides technical guidance and mentorship to MOH staff in provinces and districts, and at individual health centers.

The project is also enhancing the computerized systems in all hospitals and major health centers to include important logistics information. The new information will help improve systems performance and increase commodity security in the province.

The USAID | DELIVER PROJECT works in all of Zambia’s provinces to improve access to health commodities. For more information, please visit http://deliver.jsi.com.

U.S. Provides Equipment To Female Health Workers in Pakistan

More than 1,500 Lady Health Workers who work in areas in the areas of Punjab and Sindh provinces in Pakistan will receive kits of basic equipment to help them as they offer vital health care services to families in their communities. This donation is part of the United States’ continuing support for Pakistan’s flood relief and recovery efforts.

Deputy USAID mission director Rodger Garner is speaking to the lady health workers; Sakina Shanwari, supervisor of the lady health workers, thanks the American people. Photo Credit: USAID/Pakistan

The kits were donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to Pakistan’s National Program for Family Planning and Primary Health Care.  Kits include blood pressure monitors, scales, thermometers, blankets, tents, and basic furniture.  This equipment will enable Lady Health Workers to set up health houses to provide basic services in flood-affected communities.

Read more here.

From the Field

In Mozambique, as part of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), we will launch the Malaria Communities Program (MCP).  This program will support the efforts of communities and indigenous organizations to combat malaria.  The primary beneficiary groups of the MCP are children under five and pregnant women.

In Zambia, a rural health center built with support from a USAID humanitarian assistance program will be handed over to the local community for its own management and use.

In Ghana, we will hold a Voucher Fair to distribute vouchers to those affected by recent flooding.  This one-day event will distribute vouchers to 700 households, an estimated 4,200 people that were affected by the recent floods in the Central Gonja District.  The vouchers can be used to purchase items such as blankets, clothes, plastic sheets, mattresses, kitchen supplies and school supplies from local

Leading Through Civilian Power

After months of effort and meaningful discussions, today I was happy to join Secretary Clinton to unveil the first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) at a State Department town hall.

Complementing the Presidential Policy Directive on development that was released earlier this year, the QDDR helps make real the commitment the Secretary has shown to creating a modern, efficient diplomatic and development architecture.

For USAID, the QDDR provides an opportunity for this Agency to demonstrate its capabilities, elevating the role development plays in our nation’s foreign policy while empowering us to be inclusive leaders. It affirms USAID mission directors as the top development advisers in U.S. embassies and grants USAID the hiring authority to attract and recruit top talent. It also recognizes USAID as the lead agency in charge of President Obama’s chief development initiative, Feed the Future, and positions us to lead the Global Health Initiative by the end of FY 2012.

Critically, the QDDR endorses the suite of reforms we began earlier this year—USAID Forward—recognizing this Agency’s need to develop new systems and capacities to deliver against these new opportunities. We will continue to streamline our work and cut red-tape, transforming our Agency into a modern, efficient development enterprise. But we also must renew our engagement with our interagency partners in a spirit of inclusive leadership and cooperation, and focus thoughtfully, aggressively, and primarily on delivering results for those we serve.

We should keep in mind that in the end, success for this Agency and the people we serve will not be delivered in a directive or a document, no matter how powerful or carefully crafted. Our success will be determined by the hard work and enlightened leadership we show. The QDDR has provided us a blueprint to effectively channel our efforts, but it is only as powerful as we make it.

Solving Transportation Problems and Preventing AIDS Deaths in Lesotho

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about innovation for health? DNA tests? Smart phones? How about ponies? In Lesotho, these four-legged vehicles might just be the best idea yet.

Lesotho is a tiny country landlocked within South Africa about the size of Maryland. Its 2 million people live mostly in rural areas. But despite its small size, it has big HIV statistics. One in four adults is HIV-positive, and more than 20,000 people are newly infected each year. Many people live in mountainous areas that are connected to larger towns and cities by a network of winding and unreliable roads.

Small clinics in the mountains serve as crucial outposts for health care. The roads to the mountains, however, are often unusable due to heavy summer rains and winter snowstorms. Clinics consequently can’t order lab tests or receive a reliable flow of drugs and supplies for four months or more every year. HIV patients, who need medication daily, and those seeking to find out their HIV status, can’t wait that long.

To fill this need, USAID supports the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation to collaborate on an innovative way to reach those in need. The Horse Riding for Health program engages local pony riders to transport blood tests, drugs, and supplies between remote mountain health clinics and better-equipped hospitals at sea level. When roads are navigable by two wheels, motorcycle riders join the journey to further speed the process of rushing blood to the lab or medication to those sick with HIV. The transport system allows people to receive HIV test results sooner, access life-saving drugs, and ensure an uninterrupted supply of medication. (See more photos of the horse riders.)

The benefits aren’t limited to individuals receiving care; research shows that faster diagnosis and treatment for HIV leads to fewer future cases in the community. This is partly because the more people know their HIV status, the less likely they are to transmit the disease to others. Especially for pregnant women, learning her HIV status can be the difference between life and death for her baby.

Just a few years ago, even if expectant mothers knew they were HIV-positive, all they could do was hope for the best. In addition to improving transportation systems, USAID and the Glaser Foundation have rolled out comprehensive services to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission throughout Lesotho. Today, 80 percent of mothers have access to treatment and counseling programs that can allow their babies to be born HIV-free. The fight against HIV in Lesotho has been bolstered by strong leadership by Minister of Health Mphu Ramatlapeng as well as active involvement by the community.

To see the Lesotho programs in action, ABC News is featuring two videos on its website and will air a story Friday night on 20/20 for the first in a series of reports on global health. The event will span Good Morning America, World News with Diane Sawyer, Nightline, and 20/20 to showcase innovations in global health as well as the people behind the progress.

Microbicide Gel Offers Protection Against HIV Transmission

Microbicide. That’s kind of a funny-sounding — perhaps even scary — word for something pretty powerful. It certainly has a scientific “ring” to it, and that tends to turn people off. It’s complicated, it’s detailed, and it’s… boring, right?

If you think something that can empower women, save lives, and possibly change the course of history is boring, then yes. Here at USAID, we actually think it’s pretty exciting. For nearly 50 years, we’ve been investing in science, research, and innovation to enable game-changing interventions and breakthroughs to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods. This year, such an investment provided the first-ever proof that a microbicide, Tenofovir 1% vaginal gel, can safely and effectively protect women from HIV transmission.

An estimated 33.3 million people are living with HIV globally. Nearly 23 million of these individuals, 60 percent of whom are women, live in sub-Saharan Africa. In many countries, women lack the power to negotiate the use of prevention tools and approaches to protect themselves from exposure to HIV through conventional methods such as condom use, partner reduction, and negotiating delay of sexual debut.

The results of the USAID and South African-supported Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) 004 trial are encouraging, and provide hope that a new method that will enable women to have greater control over HIV prevention will soon be available.

The next steps are to confirm these results in further studies; once this happens we could have on our hands a unique HIV prevention tool for women who are not able to negotiate other HIV prevention methods with their male partners. Once this new technology is ready, USAID will work with all our partners to make it available to vulnerable women and girls as soon as possible.

But, since everyone is different, we know that we need a variety of HIV prevention methods to choose from. For just this reason, other next-generation ARV-based product leads are in the pipeline and will be tested clinically if they continue to show good results in preclinical testing. We will continue to support clinical studies of promising products.

We are thrilled our Administrator thinks microbicide is an exciting word as well. Just two weeks ago he convened a meeting to determine the next steps following the success of CAPRISA. There will also be an additional meeting with technical experts in the field to discuss how to aggressively roll out microbicide treatments to those most in need.

Microbicide: Does one word say it all? Perhaps not. Is the word off-putting? Even a little too scientific? Perhaps. We just see it as the future of HIV prevention.

Want to know more about USAID-supported innovation and breakthroughs for global health? Stay tuned to www.usaid.gov and the IMPACT blog! We’ll be posting updates to highlight a variety of new research findings over the next several weeks as we roll out the 2010 Health Research Report to Congress.

From the Field

In Albania, we will open a Taxpayer Service Center in Tirana. Based on a new client-centered model, Albania’s General Directorate of Taxation, with the support of USAID and the MCC Threshold Program, will open a new service center in Tirana. The project has supported the remodeling of the infrastructure, including key IT infrastructure that will allow for a customer queue system and 20 customer service windows for taxpayers. Tax administration reforms are important to increase transparency and reduce corruption in Albania’s business environment.

In Paraguay, we will celebrate the results of a seven year citizen’s initiatives program to improve democracy.

In Zimbabwe, Mission Director Karen Freeman joined Ambassador Charles Ray and Zimbabwean government officials to bestow the 10th annual Auxillia Chimusoro awards to Zimbabweans who have excelled in their involvement in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe. The awards are given to individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions in communication, leadership, social investment and other areas to mitigate the effects and impact of HIV/AIDS. The awards are named after Auxillia Chimusoro, one of the first individuals to disclose their HIV positive status in Zimbabwe. This year, the awardees included Catherine Murombedzi, the first journalist in Zimbabwe to disclose her HIV positive status, Head of the HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr. Owen Mugurundgi, and the late Dr. Monica Glenshaw, a former District Medical Officer for Manicaland.

In Iraq, we will join The Ministry of Health (MoH)for their  Annual National Conference.  This year the conference will focus on “Training Management in Health Institutions”. The MoH Human Resource and Development Center (HRTDC), International Medical Corps (IMC) and USAID/Tatweer are partners in this conference. Papers from each Directorate of Health from each province will be presented.  Several workshops will also take place, topics include: planning and implementing the training process and developing training curricula, the role of IT in improving health information systems, the impact of training on MoH service delivery, accreditation and quality assurance of training and budget preparation for training.  Additionally, as USAID/Tatweer comes to a close, the conference will highlight MoH and USAID/Tatweer successes in developing sustainable capacity and affecting system reform in the Ministry.

200 Years of Global Health in 4 Minutes

Let’s be honest, statistics can be boring and oftentimes intimidating. It’s unfortunate because behind every statistic there is an incredible story to be told. While statisticians are not generally known for their charismatic personalities, Hans Rosling has done the impossible—he discovered a way to unearth compelling stories that are often lost in a vast sea of hard data.

Photo Credit: Ryan Cherlin/USAID

Through his non profit venture Gapminder, Rosling is dedicated to telling the story of global health by converting numbers into exciting presentations with stunning animated and interactive graphics. In order to change mindsets with datasets, he relies on credible sources to supply him with the raw materials he needs.

Rosling pulls data from several sources, including the USAID funded Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), to create his animated presentations that have captivated global health professionals, government officials, policy makers, as well as audiences unfamiliar with global health issues. For the past 25 years, DHS has proved to be the gold standard of high quality and reliable data on health in developing nations. This data provides critical insight that helps decision makers establish evidence-based priorities and policies to progress the global health agenda.

The DHS program works with countries’ health ministries and has conducted some 260 surveys in over 90 developing countries measuring key indicators including infant and child mortality, fertility, family planning use, maternal health, child immunization, and malnutrition levels. Beginning in 2001, DHS began measuring HIV prevalence in national surveys, leading to an international reassessment of both the extent and epidemiology of the AIDS epidemic.

Check out more of Hans Rosling’s videos on the Gapcast YouTube channel.

The Ability to Plan Your Family Is a Game Changer

Having seven children would be a challenge for any woman. In a developing nation like Mali, where the average number of children per woman is 6.6, calling it a challenge may be an understatement. Because they fall pregnant at an early age, young mothers don’t have the opportunity to finish their education, they aren’t able to work outside the home, and they face an increased risk of pregnancy-related health complications that could be fatal. Without contraceptives to plan how many children to have and when to have them, this scenario becomes reality for billions of women in the developing world and feeds the cycle of poverty.

There are an estimated 215 million women who wish they had the ability to plan their family but don’t have access to contraceptives.  In some developing nations where health care systems are grossly inadequate, or in rural areas where they may be non-existent, the availability of something as simple as contraceptives can be a matter of life and death.  Women understand the grave risk that comes with pregnancy when there are no trained health professionals or doctors to consult and provide care.  The ability to mitigate that risk is a right that should be afforded to every woman.

A World Health Organization report in 2005 stated that 1 in 75 women in developing countries risk facing maternal death in their lifetime versus 1 in 7,300 in developed countries. At the extreme, in Niger a women’s lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications is 1 in 7 versus 1 in 48,000 in Ireland. Behind each of these statistics is a story of a mother who died giving life. Behind each statistic there are heart wrenching stories of broken families that lost a loved one. The stories are all the more tragic when the woman had hoped to avoid the pregnancy, but didn’t have access to contraceptives.

The 16 Days Campaign to End Violence Against Women: From 25 November to 10 December, USAID will post a blog each day that aims to prove a single point: The human race cannot progress when half of the world population lives without the same rights and respect afforded to its male counterpart. If you are moved by what you read and want to share, we’ve made it easy for you. Click here to find out how.

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