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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A great video over at Whitehouse.gov highlights the travels of Dr. Jill Biden in Kenya and her visit to a girls school helping to give young women a brighter future.
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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Economic growth is critical to reducing poverty and building a better future. The African Growth and Opportunity Act was signed into law 10 years ago to support free markets and growing economies throughout Africa, and USAID has been building on AGOA by supporting entrepreneurs, promoting exports, and creating trade networks. And the results have been incredible. Success stories throughout Africa—from fair-trade cotton farmers in Senegal to a blooming flower market in East Africa—illustrate how trade improves lives. Read a brand-new collection of stories from the field.
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.
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.
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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Just after launching the Obama Administration’s Feed The Future strategy to fight global hunger, Administrator Shah met with H.E. Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of Djibouti, to discuss concerns and ideas for future USAID assistance and to to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to partnership with his country. Djibouti is home to the only warehouse outside the United States that prepositions American food aid for Africa and Asia; this strategic location of resources reduces delivery times by 75 percent. It also hosts the only U.S. military base on the continent, East Africa’s Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the current peace talks on Somalia. In addition, the Dr. Shah and President Guelleh discussed the Administration’s perspective on balancing development assistance with military assistance.
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.
Welcome to my debut in the brave new world of blogging at USAID.
We’ve made the most of our time during Dr. Shah’s first Africa trip as the head of this amazing agency; only in the home stretch have I found a few minutes to share an observation or two.
With impressions still intense from a day and a night in Darfur – most notably, visiting under a scorching sun a vast and desert-dusty camp for internally displaced people that thousands of victims of violence, mostly women and children, now know as home – we rose at dawn to head to Juba in the far south of Sudan. Here the climate is different in every sense.
Right off the bat we met with our civil society partners in the effort to improve governance and confidence in democracy. The Sudanese Group for Democratic Elections and the Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections provide voter education and poll-watching in the country’s north and south, respectively. They face very different political situations but similar challenges in trying to protect the integrity of the electoral process. USAID facilitates this grassroots work with technical guidance and
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