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Archives for Health

USAID Responds to Polio Outbreak in Tajikistan

More than 500 million children are vaccinated each year, including in the most difficult access places in the world.

Tajikistan is experiencing its first importation of wild poliovirus into the country in 12 years and the first case in the WHO European Region since it was certified as polio free in 2002. As of June 9, 2010, there are 183 confirmed cases of polio, including 3 deaths, in Tajikistan – out of 288 total polio cases confirmed worldwide(compared to 1604 for the same time period in 2009). For each confirmed case, there are hundreds of silent infections.

USAID is working closely with the United Nations (U.N) and countries to address this outbreak. Tajik authorities plan to conduct the next round of vaccination for children ages 6 to 15 during June 15-19. The global polio eradication effort is at a critical point in time.  Since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988, the global number of polio cases has reduced by over 99 percent.  Now, polio is endemic in only four countries (India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan) compared to 145 countries before the GPEI began.  Furthermore, GPEI’s efforts have mobilized 20 million volunteers around the world, staged mass immunization campaigns, and vaccinated about 2.5 billion children worldwide.  Cases in India and Nigeria are at their lowest ever – an indication that we can not let up on our efforts now.

Still, significant challenges remain to eliminate the persistent reservoirs of this disease including insecurity, inconsistent management and ownership by local governments, sub-optimal communication and community mobilization, and reaching newborns, minority and mobile populations. Because of the need to frequently repeat campaigns, there is often a certain fatigue about seeing yet another vaccination team knocking at the door. Yet these proactive house-to-house campaigns are the only proven way to eliminate polio from a country. And with the world being so close to wiping out polio forever, we can’t afford to give up or to settle for “almost.”

The U.S. is the largest donor to the GPEI, contributing over $1.4 billion to date. Polio eradication is also a key part of the Administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). In 2009, President Obama announced a U.S. commitment to work with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on polio eradication during his speech in Cairo in which he called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world. Read about USAID’s approach to polio eradication. The new 2010-2012 GPEI Strategic Plan, recently endorsed by the World Health Assembly, requires a $2.6 billion budget through 2012, with a $1.3 billion funding gap.

Dr. Scott Radloff Talks Family Planning with Actress Rachael Leigh Cook

USAID speaks with actress Rachel Leigh Cook

Dr. Scott Radloff Talks Family Planning with Actress Rachael Leigh Cook

Dr. Radloff, Director of USAID’s Population and Reproductive Health Office, took some time to discuss the importance of family planning with actress Rachael Leigh Cook at the Women Deliver 2010 Conference in Washington, D.C. this week.  Shortly before Dr. Radloff spoke on a panel titled, “Paving the Road to Maternal Health with Family Planning” he answered the many questions Rachael had about the current need for family planning in the developing world.

Earlier in the day Rachael tweeted from the conference, “Maternal mortality rates in developing countries are shocking.”

It was evident from her conversation with Dr. Radloff that she is interested in learning more about how meeting the family planning needs of more than 215 million women can play a roll in reducing global maternal mortality rates. Her interest in maternal health and family planning was echoed by the many Hollywood actresses that showed up in support of the Women Deliver 2010 conference this week.  Aside from Rachel, actresses Ali Larter, Ashley Judd, Christy Turlington, and Annie Lennox attended the conference to bring much needed visibility to women’s issues.

Dr. Jill Biden Visits USAID Programs in South Africa

Dr. Jill Biden at the Mapetla Day Care Centre in Soweto

Dr. Jill Biden at the Mapetla Day Care Centre in Soweto

submitted by Themba Mathebula, Development Outreach Communications Assistant, USAID South Africa

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, visited the Mapetla Day Care Centre in Soweto, on her arrival in South Africa yesterday. The centre is supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through USAID. Mapetla Day Care provides care and early education for 102 orphans and vulnerable children, including life skills development and preparation for primary school.

During her visit, Dr. Biden met the ecstatic children and staff. The centre’s principal Thabo Baloyi said “I’m very humbled to have met the U.S Second Lady and appreciate the support from the American people through USAID.” The U.S. Second Lady also met Kami, the HIV-positive muppet from Takalani Sesame, South Africa’s version of Sesame Street. USAID’s education program had supported development of Takalani Sesame for South Africa. South Africa was the first country to adapt Sesame

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Forging New Careers: USAID program seeks to train 100,000 Pakistani youth for in-demand jobs

Najeeb focuses during welding training. He is among 100,000 underemployed Pakistani youth USAID is training and helping with job placement under its Economic Growth program.

Holding an electric arc in his right hand, and a steel and glass helmet in front of his face with his left, Najeeb Ahmed bears down on a sheet of metal, focusing intensely as he heats a straight line across a forge under the watchful eye of an experienced ironworker.

Like millions of young Pakistanis, the 30-year-old Najeeb is ambitious and eager to work yet is nonetheless unemployed.  Becoming a welder may be his last chance to provide a good life for his family of six.

USAID is facilitating the placement of 100,000 Pakistanis – at least half women – in skill-matched jobs through training and placement
centers that establish linkages with the businesses, complementing other USAID programs such as education, health, and economic growth initiatives.

USAID is helping people find new economic options that offer hope for themselves and their children.  Growing job opportunities in key emerging sectors, such as food processing, construction, educational and health services, and marble, gems and jewelry will offer a way out of the cycle of poverty and violence currently afflicting much of Pakistan, particularly in the rural parts of the country.

Increasing the Involvement of Men in Women’s Health

In male dominated cultures, USAID programs are helping to decrease maternal deaths by encouraging men to become involved in pregnancy and childbirth matters. Pictured: a man and child in Pakistan.

Reducing maternal deaths by 75 percent throughout the world by 2015 will take the involvement of men in countries where it matters most. Many of the countries where USAID works are male dominated cultures. To improve maternal health outcomes for women in developing countries, men must be equal partners since they are the decision makers about health care in the family. These decisions include determining family size, timings of pregnancies, and whether women have access to health care for themselves and their children. USAID-supported programs make special efforts to emphasize men’s shared responsibility and promote their active involvement in responsible parenthood, sexual and reproductive health. This means reaching out to community elders, leaders, and religious groups – entreaties that could be rejected because of traditional cultural values and perceptions that maternal health is the responsibility of women only.

In Pakistan, USAID is building on the efforts undertaken by the Government to create a cadre of religious leader master trainers to conduct roll out trainings in family planning and reproductive health, and maternal and child health, and gender issues consistent with and supported by the teachings of Islam.

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Progress and Challenges in Fight Against Malaria in Mekong SubRegion

USG Strategy for Malaria in VietnamWhile major progress has been made in the fight against malaria in the Mekong SubRegion covering the six countries of Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and China, the disease continues to be a major public health problem, according to the World Health Organization’s recent Mekong Malaria report.

USAID provides critical strategic support in the region to address three major challenges: monitoring and mitigation of emerging multi-drug resistant malaria; combating the distribution of counterfeit and sub-standard drugs; and assessing hard-to-reach and mobile trans-border populations.

Malaria is on the agenda of the Lower Mekong Initiative Infectious Diseases Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 17–18 where participants will examine integrated regional approaches to fighting infectious disease. President’s Malaria Initiative Coordinator, Rear Admiral (USN, retired) Timothy Ziemer, will open the conference and co-lead the U.S. delegation.

The U.S. Government six-year strategy to combat malaria globally outlines contributions to stop the spread of multi-drug resistance in Southeast Asia; increase emphasis on strategic integration of malaria prevention and treatment activities with programs for maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, neglected tropical diseases, and tuberculosis through multilateral collaboration to achieve internationally-accepted goals; and intensify efforts to strengthen health systems.

This Week at USAID – June 7, 2010

Currently leading the U.S. delegation to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Board meeting in Rome, today Administrator Shah meets with the Executive Director of WFP, Deputy Director Generals of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Earl Gast will be sworn-in as the new USAID Mission Director to Afghanistan.

Several USAID officials will be speaking at the Women Deliver Conference at the Washington Convention Center. In addition, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health, Amie Batson, and the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, will both speak at the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, TB and Malaria’s annual conference, also in Washington, DC.

New Commitment to Helping Women and Children Globally

Great news on maternal and child health today.  On behalf of the Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates committed $1.5 billion to support integrated women’s and children’s health programs in developing countries at the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, DC.  The United States through the Global Health Initiative shares the goals of the Gates Foundation to improve the health and nutritional status of women and children worldwide.  While progress in reducing maternal and under-five mortality has been made, much remains to be done.  The new commitment of the Gates Foundation highlights the need for the global community to develop more integrated approaches to women’s and children’s health.  It also plans to evaluate innovative programs and share effective strategies with other countries.   This approach will help national governments achieve lasting reductions in maternal and under-five deaths.   USAID welcomes the opportunity to partner with Gates and other partners in this effort.

USAID in the News

Submitted by Jessica Scott

Administrator Shah took part in the first ever US-India Strategic Dialogue this week. The meeting included a host of senior leaders from both sides.  Dr. Shah discussed development as part of the complex relationship between the two countries.

The final 314 American troops from Operation Unified Response were airlifted from Haiti on Tuesday. Even as troops were being pulled out of the country, they continued to work with USAID and the UN in nine camps housing Haitians who lost their homes.  The Washington Post’s editorial page commemorated the transition with a lead editorial that mentions USAID in connection with the importance of continued U.S. involvement in Haiti’s recovery.  USAID officials who have been leading this effort, including Paul Weisenfeld and Christopher Milligan, attended the World Summit on the Future of Haiti.

The USAID-Funded FIRMS Initiative is helping bridge the gap between Pakistani mango farmers and European consumers.  Pakistan exports a relatively small percentage of its mango production.  Under the FIRMS program, farmers are being trained in the best ways to pick, sort, grade, and package the

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Rebuilding Communities in Pakistan

By Zack Taylor

Khana Mohri buffalo milk producers, primarily men, developed a dairy association with USAID support. The association provides training and veterinary support to its members, and stores its milk in a chiller bought through the USAID project.

On October 8, 2005, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province and AJK, killing 74,000 people and injuring 70,000. In the years since the devastating earthquake, reconstruction of the region has been an important component of the development portfolio at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Pakistan.

Read more about efforts to rebuild lives and livlihoods of the families and communities who live in this remote, mountainous province in Pakistan.

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the U.S. government mobilized all of its available resources. Military helicopters transported survivors out of destroyed cities and brought in thousands of tons of relief materials such as food, medical services, clothing, and tents in collaboration with the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team. Heavy machinery moved debris to search for victims and set the stage for rebuilding.

The close teamwork of Pakistani and U.S. governments, along

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