The work of USAID has been far-reaching and long-standing as evidenced by this photo of a Peace Corps volunteer working in the ORT center funded by USAID. In the mid 1970’s Joan Wadelton, a Peace Corps Volunteer from Princeton, New Jersey, holds one of the children she helps at a maternal and child health center in Niger. The center is operated by ORT, a voluntary agency, and the Nigerienne Ministry of Health, is financed by USAID. Photo is from USAID.
Archives for Health
In September, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that fewer women die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth than previously estimated, but efforts to sharply cut maternal mortality by 2015 are still off track. A new report found that 358,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth in 2008, mostly in poor countries of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While the number of deaths is disturbing enough, it is estimated that an additional 15-20 million women suffer debilitating consequences of pregnancy.
Despite the challenges faced in reducing maternal mortality, USAID has helped to demonstrate that real progress can be made. Our work proved that many of the major causes of maternal death are substantially preventable and treatable with low-cost interventions. USAID has sharpened its focus on a set of effective interventions targeting high-mortality complications of pregnancy and birth – hemorrhage, hypertension, infections, anemia, and prolonged labor. Together, these complications account for two-thirds of maternal mortality. Hemorrhage alone accounts for almost one-third, and USAID has been in the forefront of promoting “active management of the third stage of labor (AMTSL),” a highly-effective technique for preventing postpartum hemorrhage.
The active management of the third stage of labor is a combination of actions to speed the delivery of the placenta and prevent up to 60% of postpartum hemorrhage cases. Through these simple actions, trained providers can prevent postpartum hemorrhage and play a vital role in saving women’s lives.
Spreading best practices like AMSTL are critical to saving lives of women and improving health around the world. The U.S. Global Health Initiative has set ambitious targets like a 30% decrease in maternal mortality in assisted countries, with a priority on supporting innovation and sharing best practices, as well as building up the health systems that deliver these interventions.
A nationally representative facility-based delivery survey funded by USAID and conducted in 10 countries found limited use of AMTSL in only 0.5 to 32 percent of observed deliveries, and revealed multiple deficiencies in practice. These surveys helped to identify barriers and served as important catalysts to action. With the evidence and this data, USAID has worked with professional societies, researchers, UN agencies, NGOs and the private sector to safely and effectively introduce and expand AMTSL use in at least 40 high-mortality countries.
USAID supported efforts have led to policy changes in 16 countries in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South America. The Agency and its partners also contributed to the development and dissemination of the 2007 WHO recommendations for the Prevention of Postpartum Hemorrhage providing a clear global policy on the correct application of AMSTL and the 2009 WHO guidelines for the management of PPH and retained placenta. The strength of multiple implementation strategies—policy change, systems strengthening, social mobilization, technology development, and research— has yielded many valuable lessons about opportunities, challenges, and strategies for scaling up AMTSL. A key lesson we have learned is that, when there is political commitment, AMTSL is rapidly scalable.
But USAID asks hard questions and supports the renewed attention to the programmatic implementation of this approach. With that in mind, USAID is supporting a WHO-led study on the impact of eliminating the most complicated element- of AMSTL, controlled cord traction. If this study has positive results, a simplified AMTSL regimen would significantly reduce the complexity of training and AMTSL practice in health facilities and in the community.
Community-based strategies for preventing PPH are also important since between 40-50% of births occur at home. USAID has piloted community-based distribution of misoprostol and use of the Uniject® device prefilled with oxytocin, to address these needs. Misoprostol is an effective uterotonic to prevent postpartum bleeding; unlike oxytocin, it can be administered orally and does not require refrigeration. USAID-supported studies in Nepal, Afghanistan, and Senegal have shown the feasibility of community-based distribution of misoprostol, indicating that the drug should be considered when oxytocin is not available at the community level. In Nepal, where 82 percent of women do not give birth in health facilities, a USAID-supported study showed that it is feasible to achieve high-population coverage of misoprostol through trained community health volunteers under the Government primary health care system and still have increased use of facility births due to the education provided to women/ families through the program. USAID’s partnerships in Nepal contributed to a change in national policy and the pilot study has now become the Nepal government’s national program. With support from multiple partners, the program is now being scaled up throughout the country. Pilot projects or studies on oxytocin in Uniject in Mali proved that a 6-month trained birth attendant (matron) could provide oxytocin as safely as the midwives or physicians. Mali has also changed its policy to allow matrons to use oxytocin and practice AMTSL.
Maternal mortality is still unacceptably high. Together, we need to seize the momentum and enhance family planning and maternal health programs to quickly reduce the still unacceptably high toll of preventable maternal deaths. Secretary Clinton challenged USAID to build on existing global health programs and create lasting change. We have made great strides with previous investments, but as she noted, in many places a woman might be treated for HIV but die in childbirth. This is not acceptable.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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. 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.
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.