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Archives for Health

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.

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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USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Jonathan Hale Visit to Russia – May 2010

This marks my first trip to Russia since I took on the role of Deputy Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Europe and Eurasia Bureau. I’m very pleased to be back here, at a time when there is a lot of optimism about the “reset” in U.S.-Russia relations.

Today I met with Russian experts and NGOs that are partnering with USAID to reduce maternal and infant mortality, improve reproductive health, and reduce the number of children living in orphanages and on the streets. These are priorities for both Russia and the U.S., and an important area of collaboration under the Bilateral Presidential Commission established by Presidents Obama and Medvedev last July.

I was impressed by the leading role that Russian organizations such as

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President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) website wins Gold Screen Award

A group of children relax under a net in the Oyam district of Northern Uganda. Source: Gilbert Awekofua/Photoshare

The PMI website, managed by USAID, earned The Gold Screen Award in the 2010 Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards Competition, held by the National Association of Government Communicators. The awards competition recognizes superior government communications products and their producers in 51 categories. Gold Screen Award categories are reserved for audiovisual and multimedia products, including broadcast-related products and websites.

More than 500 entries were received and judged by a prestigious panel of expert judges. The website, accessible at www.pmi.gov and www.fightingmalaria.gov, hosts 12,000 unique visitors per month who view over 30,000 pages.

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USAID in the News – May 21, 2010

USAID in the News …

Administrator Rajiv Shah said in Nairobi, Kenya that the agency is working to make Africa a bigger priority. USAID currently funds and runs programs to improve health, food security, democracy and entrepreneurship in Africa.

In Southern Sudan, Dr. Shah announced that USAID and its local partners are launching the $55 million, five-year Food, Agribusiness and Rural Markets (FARM) Program aimed at helping to improve the ability of small farmers to grow staple crops.

The Lancet published an assessment of proposed reforms to USAID that Dr. Shah had announced, including the reinstatement of a bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning.

The Los Angeles Times wrote an editorial in favor of the Obama Administration’s plans to expand pilot programs to get food aid to the world’s needy faster.

The Obama Administration, as reported by the Reuters News Agency, is signaling a shift in U.S. foreign policy in the wake of the 2008 food crisis. The Administration wants to spend at least $3.5 billion over the next three years to potentially help 60 poor nations feed themselves. USAID is the lead implementing agency for Feed the Future.

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Pic of the Week – Healthy Moms and Babies in Kenya

Improving Mothers and Infants Health

USAID is supporting health training of mothers in Kenya. The programs encourage women to consider delivering their children in a hospital, rather than at home. Women who deliver at home face greater risk of complications and infections, and their babies are less likely to be fully vaccinated. In areas where USAID programs are in place, hospital deliveries have nearly doubled.

Today is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

Young people are watching a play about adults being encouraged to get tested for HIV as part of participating in a clinical trial for a novel HIV vaccine at YRG Care, a premiere HIV referral center in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

Administrator Shah recently said that “humanity demands an AIDS vaccine” when describing USAID’s approach to high impact development.  USAID and its partners continue to support the quest for a safe vaccine that could effectively prevent HIV — a search that is commemorated each year on May 18th, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.  This work is essential since notable progress in providing life-saving treatment to those who need it cannot keep up with the number of new HIV infections.  For every two people living with HIV who begin taking antiretroviral therapy, five additional people become newly infected.  Each day, there are at least 7,400 new infections.

Our current efforts are outlined in a vaccine brief.

USAID’s Senior Technical Advisor for HIV Vaccines was featured in a recent issue of Frontlines [PDF].

Health and Development in Southern Sudan

This afternoon we visited two sites where USAID, together with community groups, is helping improve health in Juba.

Sudan is a top U.S. government foreign policy priority; we need this country to be on a stable, peaceful path, which in turn is crucial to regional security.  Ultimately this means transitioning from humanitarian assistance to long-term development.

At more than $1 billion per year, USAID’s program in Sudan is our largest in sub-Saharan Africa.  One important project is the Lolongo Clinic in an outlying area of Juba, which helps meet the community’s basic health needs while also educating parents in preventative care.  About 35,000 people in the region rely on the treatment and care that Lolongo offers; that works out to about $6 per person per year.

Non-governmental organizations such as this clinic account for a full 86 percent of all health care services in Sudan.  And it’s by far not enough.  Southern Sudan has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world, and a girl stands a higher chance of dying in childbirth than completing secondary school.

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