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Archives for Global Health

Something to Celebrate in Ghana

Jeffrey Rowland is the Director of Media and Communications at GAVI alliance. This piece originally appeared in the GAVI Alliance blog.

Under the sweltering sun in Accra’s immense Independence Square, hundreds of Ghanaian mothers and their newborn babies gathered this morning with the country’s First Lady, Ministry of Health officials, my boss GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley and international partners and donors to celebrate the nationwide introduction of vaccines that protect against the biggest causes of pneumonia and severe diarrhoea.

A sea breeze from the Bay of Guinea and brightly festooned tents provided respite to the crowd, which included tribal chiefs and queens colourfully clad in traditional dress.

After the playing of the national anthem and a purposeful pause, a prayer served as a poignant moment of reflection for all those in attendance who have worked so hard to make today a reality.

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USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (4/23/2012 – 4/27/2012)

April 22: In the Huffington Post, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah previewed a new global campaign to end preventable child deaths.“Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” will focus on raising awareness ahead of the Child Survival Call to Action event in June, when the governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia will join together with UNICEF to mobilize the world to end preventable child deaths.

April 23: Today at the Kaiser Family Foundation, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah launched the “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” campaign to end preventable child deaths. Administrator Shah spoke with The Guardian and the UN Dispatch, which highlighted the launch. The Global Post also wrote a story on the 5th Birthday campaign.

April 24: On the eve of World Malaria Day, US Global Malaria Coordinator Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer published an op-ed in The Hill, discussing the importance of malaria intervention and his first-hand experience distributing malaria bed nets in Ghana.

April 25: In an interview with Federal News Radio, Assistant Administrator Mark Feierstein discussed USAID’s focus on strengthening its investments in local intuitions and working with previous aid recipients. For example, Feierstein cited Brazil, a long-time receipt of aid and now the sixth-largest economy in the world, as a USAID partner for agricultural development in Haiti and Mozambique. “Hopefully, we’ll see places like Mozambique and Haiti and elsewhere achieve the kinds of successes Brazil has in recent years,” Feierstein said.

U.S. and Russia Explore Cooperation on the Global Fight against Malaria

Last week, I travelled to Russia with Dr. Bernard Nahlen, the Deputy Coordinator of the President’s Malaria Initiative. We had very productive talks with the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development and the Martinovsky Institute of Medical Parasitology and Tropical Medicine. We discussed potential U.S. – Russian cooperation in the global fight against malaria. USAID has started to work with Russia to address global development challenges around the world. Last year, we agreed to work together to help eradicate polio. We are now exploring how we could cooperate to control malaria in Africa and the Asia Pacific to save children, improve maternal health, improve maternal health, reduce suffering, and promote economic development.

Russia has long and deep experience with malaria. The disease was first reported in Russia in the 14th Century. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Russian and later Soviet scientists were involved in research that led to breakthroughs in malaria diagnostics and control efforts. The Martinovsky Institute was established in 1921 and after many years of effort malaria was eliminated from the former Soviet Union in the 1960’s. As in the U.S., the Soviet military and government continued research into fighting malaria in tropical areas around the world. Today, the Marinovsky Institute carries on this legacy. It even continues to train foreign doctors including some from Africa.

In talks with Russian officials, we discussed collaborating on training and capacity building, evaluation, operational research, advocacy and resource mobilization in support of national malaria control plans in third countries. We are exploring joint participation or co-leadership in international and national forums such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Roll Back Malaria Initiative and regional or global health meetings. The Russians are particularly interested in ending preventable child deaths from malaria and reducing the burden of malaria during pregnancy. The talks were fruitful and we should see progress on this cooperation very soon.

Delivering Nets to those who Need them Most

The following post is by Amanda Makulec, Monitoring and Evaluation Associate, John Snow, Inc.

Malaria continues to be one of the leading causes of child deaths around the world, despite the availability of low cost interventions to prevent those deaths. According to USAID, the disease causes an estimated 700,000 deaths annually, with nearly 90% of the illness and death caused by malaria occurring among children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa.

A young girl in Timor-Leste carries home an insecticide treated net from a distribution site for the USAID Timor-Leste Health Improvement Project. Copyright JSI.

From the Nothing but Nets campaign to the WHO’s Roll Back Malaria Initiative, we’ve all heard about the impact a $5* bednet can make in the life of a child or a pregnant woman. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reported in September 2011 that homes owning at least one bednet were associated with a 23% reduction in child mortality. Other simple commodities, such as rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and the drugs used to treat malaria—a million ACTs—headline advocacy campaigns less frequently, but are essential for providing low-cost diagnosis and treatment of malaria.

As important as the $5 that buys the net is the part of the story often simplified to a sentence or two: how is that bednet transported from a storage facility and distributed to populations that need it most? Without a robust logistics system, bednets could easily remain unopened and packaged for transport, rather than hanging over the beds of small children and pregnant women in rural Uganda or elsewhere; ACTs may not be delivered to rural health facilities and remain in a warehouse; and RDTs may never be provided to community health workers to enable them to rapidly diagnose malaria in a child’s blood using only a small sample.

Responsibilities for procuring malaria commodities for the US President’s Malaria Initiative delivering them through effective supply chains, and, in turn, strengthening in-country supply chains to best manage malaria commodities are at the core of one task of the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT, implemented by John Snow, Inc. and various partners. The project purchases bednets, ACTs and RDTs and supports the supply chain systems to distribute the commodities to sites around the world. USAID | DELIVER PROJECT also works to overcome the challenges in procuring and transporting malaria prevention and treatment commodities to the populations that need them most, including global shortages of ACTs and questions of quality assurance around the safety and efficacy of various commodities. From 2007-2011, the team procured 22.4 million bednets, 17.5 million RDTs, and 47.6 ACTs for the prevention and treatment of malaria, which were delivered through both facility and community based programs.

On this World Malaria Day, let’s celebrate the achievements that have been made not only in the number of bednets procured and distributed, but also the immense achievements of the people and programs who make it possible to get the bednets and other commodities to the places they’re most needed. Achieving reductions in malaria morbidity and mortality worldwide—and meeting the ambitious goal to end preventable child deaths in a generation—will continue to require not only quality commodities, but also insightful problem solvers, creative thinkers, and skilled logisticians, all of whom make it possible for that $5 bednet to be delivered to a girl in Timor-Leste, like the one pictured above.

Interested in learning more about supply chains and logistics systems that take a bednet or a drug from a storage facility to a community? You can learn more about the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT, and review the findings of the recent External Evaluation of the President’s Malaria Initiative.

*USAID estimates the actual cost of a bednet is between $4 and $5.

New Partners Initiative: Empowering Civil Society, Faith-based Groups, and Communities to Fight HIV

By Elizabeth Baldwin, Analyst/Activity Manager for the Office of HIV/AIDS

Earlier this year, I attended two meetings in Johannesburg and Kampala to celebrate the end of the HIV/AIDS New Partners Initiative (NPI) – an interagency President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program totaling $200 million and spanning Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

Helping build capacity among 55 prime partners and over 200 sub-partners in 14 countries, NPI – in its five years of existence – has strengthened and leveled the playing field for many organizations, building their capacities to implement HIV/AIDS care and support programs for those in communities hardest hit by the epidemic.

Thanks to NPI, grantees have provided nearly 1 million people with counseling and testing and prevention of mother-to-child transmission services; provided several million people with behavior change and prevention outreach; and reached over 340,000 children affected by HIV/AIDS.

The two meetings provided a remarkable opportunity to bring all of the partners together, to celebrate their incredible successes and to create a platform where they could share their unique stories and lessons learned under the Initiative.

Despite marking the end of the project, the tone and energy of the meetings were overwhelmingly celebratory. In both cities, the meetings kicked-off with exuberant performances by local cultural groups: the Mlisada Dance Troupein Uganda and the Arekopaneng Cultural Group in South Africa, which were preceded by opening remarks by USAID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The conference plenaries featured powerful key note addresses from Dr. Kelvin Storey, the Executive Director of the Regional AIDS Training Network in Kampala, and Justice Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa in Johannesburg.

Dr. Storey, an expert in economic and social policy, gave a personable and compelling speech – speaking directly to the partners and urging them to take forward the tools and ideas developed under NPI. Equally thought-provoking, Justice Cameron spoke courageously about stigma and what it means to be an HIV-positive man living in South Africa.

Throughout the two days, partners exchanged best practices and lessons learned through informal breakout sessions and covered a range of topics such as resource mobilization, country ownership, and community partnerships.

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Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday

In the last 20 years the world has saved over 50 million children’s lives and reduced maternal mortality by one third. The American people and their partners can feel very proud of their contributions to these extraordinary achievements. With prospects for ending preventable child and maternal deaths, an AIDS-free generation, and the foundations for universal health coverage, future generations will look back at this period as a turning point in the history of global health.

Ariel Pablos-Méndez as a small child. Photo: USAID

Today, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah will launch the Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday campaign to educate Americans on the disparity in child survival rates and make them more aware of our incredible capacity to save children’s lives. We also hope to rally the child survival community – bringing together the various partnerships and initiatives that are the backbone of child survival – to mobilize the world toward the goal of ending preventable child deaths.

While global under-five mortality has been declining, about 7 million children under the age of five still die annually. Roughly 40 percent of these deahs occur in the first month of life, among highly vulnerable newborns. Many children, at greatest risk of dying before their fifth birthday live in remove villages or in underserved urban areas. USAID focuses its work on 24 countries that account for more than 70 percent of child deaths. Nearly half of all child deaths occur in just five of these countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, and Ethiopia.

USAID focuses on saving lives at birth and ending preventable child deaths. Family planning and birth spacing for the mother, providing prophylaxis and treatment for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV to mothers who have experienced the impact of these diseases, and safe labor and delivery will all enhance the health of children. Advancements in vaccines, better management of chronic conditions affecting the mother and child, such as malnutrition and HIV, and improvements in environmental factors such as poor sanitation will further accelerate needed progress in child mortality. To protect children in the first five years of life, USAID will increasingly rely on low-cost, easy-to-use interventions that achieve highest impact by preventing and treating the leading causes of child death: pneumonia, diarrhea, prematurity, asphyxia, malaria, and newborn sepsis. Strengthening health systems will save lives and secure development gains by ensuring access for all to appropriate health services at an affordable cost.

USAID has recently released its Global Health Strategic Framework, which sets the direction of the global health sector for FY 2012-2016. It incorporates the principles of the Global Health Initiative (GHI), which form the foundation of our work, is set within USAID’s core development mission and priorities, and promotes an inclusive and integrated approach to global health across the U.S. Government for a more effective and efficient approach to sustainable global health outcomes.

Twitter Q&A on Every Child Deserves a #5thBDay

USAID and its global partners are committed to ending preventable child deaths.  On Monday at 10am EST, USAID Administrator Shah will launch a new awareness-raising campaign at an event hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Tweet your questions about the campaign to @JonCarson44, Director of Public Engagement at the White House, who will be joining Amie Batson, our Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health.

Make sure to use the hashtags #5thBDay #WHChat.

  • WHAT: “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” Twitter Q&A (#5thBDay)·
  • TOPIC: Saving lives of kids under-five. Over 7 million died last year of largely preventable causes.
  • WHEN: Monday, April 23 at 1PM  *New time*   Tuesday, April 24th at 2:30 EST
  • WHO:  Amie Batson, USAID and John Carson, WH Public Engagement
  • ACTION: YOUR followers can participate by asking questions starting now with the hashtag #WHChat #5thBDay. YOU can also retweet the White House tweet here:

Nothing About Them, Without Them: Including Youth in Transition Services for Adolescents Living with HIV

Heather Bergmann, of John Snow Inc., is the Technical Officer for USAID’s AIDSTAR-One project

No one born since 1985 knows a world without HIV. Nearly half of the world’s population is under 25, and far too many of these young people know all too well how the virus can devastate a family or community.

I had the pleasure of meeting a remarkable group of young people living with HIV at a recent technical consultation co-sponsored by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Thanks to advances in AIDS treatment, a new generation of HIV-positive youth is surviving childhood and preparing to “age out” of pediatric HIV services—at a critical moment in their lives.

Youth living with HIV face many challenges.  Not only are they—like others their age—exploring new romantic and sexual relationships, but they must also learn to manage their own HIV care.

Without proper support, many young people can become overwhelmed, a response that can challenge adherence to AIDS medicines and lead to negative health consequences. This is why it’s imperative to create health services that are appropriate and accessible for youth living with HIV.

Young people have an important role to play in HIV program and policy development. They can provide unique insights into how best to reach their peers and which messages resonate with youth living with HIV and AIDS.

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MAMA Bangladesh – Connecting Health Information and Services to Mothers Through Mobiles

Kirsten Gagnaire is the Global Partnership Director of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA).

IDEA/Mobile Solutions is an office at USAID that champions the use of mobile technology for development issues. Mobile Solutions provides support to mobile technology initiatives implemented by USAID pillar bureaus, such as mAgriculture and mHealth. One of the most prominent mHealth initiatives, launched by Secretary Hillary Clinton on Mother’s Day last year, is the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA).

MAMA is a Global Development Alliance founded by USAID and Johnson & Johnson, with support from the mHealth Alliance, United Nations Foundation and BabyCenter. In March, MAMA board representatives visited Bangladesh to meet with MAMA country partners and conduct field visits to meet pregnant women, new mothers and family members who have subscribed to the MAMA mobile phone service, which is called ‘Aponjon’ in Bangladesh. This blog post comes from MAMA Global Partnership Director, Kirsten Gagnaire, and is part of the “blog tour series” reporting on the site visits and experience in Bangladesh. Read how USAID is helping women connect to health services in the developing world.

In Bangladesh, as in so many low-income areas across the globe, pregnant women and new mothers don’t have access to timely, reliable and culturally relevant information about how to best care for themselves and their babies.  Although there has been some improvement over the past ten years, it remains a fact that death due to pregnancy, childbirth and infancy-related causes are high in Bangladesh. And these deaths are often preventable with basic knowledge and care.

A young mother in Bangladesh using a cell phone. Photo Credit: MAMA

The Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) was created to provide new and expectant moms with vital stage-based information via mobile phones. Subscribers who register indicate their expected due date, or the birthday of their recently-born child, and receive weekly messages timed to the stage of pregnancy or the age of their newborn. MAMA’s first in-country program is an initiative catalyzed by USAID and local partner D.Net. Catalyzing the support of a public-private coalition in country, with strong support from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Health, MAMA Bangladesh has developed and piloted an mHealth service called Aponjon, the Bengali word for “trusted friend”. Aponjon works as a mobile-messaging based service, providing moms and the gatekeepers within their families (usually spouses, mothers, and mothers-in-law) with information about how to take care of themselves and their babies, and includes an entirely separate service for husbands that reinforces messages that their wives are receiving and includes information on how to best care for their loved ones during pregnancy and early childhood.

MAMA messages include information on self-care during and after pregnancy, as well as information on when to seek care and how to care for a newborn. MAMA Bangladesh recognizes the need for linking subscribers to local health services, and has  built strong relationships with local health providers.

“I can only visit my clients once each month,” one community health worker told us during a site visit. “But the mobile phone messages continue to provide information between visits; more information than I would be able to share during a single visit.”

The importance of the connection between information about health and information on where to seek assistance was highlighted during one of our site visits.  When asked what was the most important message they received, Shoma and Sale, new parents, beamed at their healthy baby and said that it was a message that discussed the signs of newborn respiratory illness.  They realized their baby was exhibiting the symptoms which required care, according to the message they received.  They were able to connect with their local clinic, where their baby was treated and recovered.

Messages to moms and their families are one of the first, and critically important, steps in educating people about their health, connecting them to care and changing behaviors. MAMA Bangladesh has registered 1,800 women in three districts thus far, and aims to launch nationwide later this year.

To learn more about MAMA, visit


White House Easter Prayer Breakfast: Gathering Leaders — and Partners

In his opening remarks to over one hundred Christian leaders at the White House Prayer Breakfast, President Obama said that “I’m even more grateful for the work that you do every day of the year — the compassion and the kindness that so many of you express through your various ministries.”

President Obama addresses the audience at the 3rd Annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast. Photo Credit: USAID

Many of the ministries that the President referred to are focused outside of the U.S.  They are ministries, organizations and initiatives that partner with and complement the work of USAID.  From efforts to increase the bounty of agricultural work with Feed the Future, to helping provide medical care that helps children reach their fifth birthday with the Global Health Initiative to literally freeing persons chained into human trafficking together with our Counter Trafficking in Persons efforts, the leaders and their supporters strengthen and extend their own goals of the goals of USAID.

After the Prayer Breakfast, the religious leaders took part in a briefing that included hearing about the tremendous progress that has been achieved in the last few decades in child survival from USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health Amie Batson. In the past two decades child deaths have fallen dramatically, from 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. In fact, the goal of ending preventable child deaths is possible –  if the world works together.  Along with strong country ownership, partnership with faith-based and community organizations will be critical to make this a reality.

This is where you can help!  In close collaboration with UNICEF, the United States is co-convening a Call to Action in June 2012 to set the course towards the end of preventable child deaths.  We need your help to raise awareness and drive collective action! If you’re interested in learning more and want to partner with us, please email: for more information.

Echoing the President’s remarks, thank you for you continued leadership, passion and dedication to helping the most vulnerable.  Together we can create a world where every child, no matter where he or she is born, has an equal opportunity to survive and grow.


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