IHSJ Reader     May 2012     Issue 24         
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Investing in Nutrition Security is Key to Sustainable Development (Anthony Lake, UNICEF, May 2012)
Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, calls on world leaders to make the fight against childhood hunger a global priority. More than 180 million children around the world suffer from stunting – the result of chronic malnutrition in the first 1,000 days of life. Stunted children are not only shorter than average; studies demonstrate that they also suffer from impaired brain development and lower economic productivity over the lifetime, and are nearly five times more likely to die from disease than a non-stunted peer. Curbing chronic malnutrition will require an enormous surge in resources and political will for nutrition interventions, as well as strategies to address the structural drivers of hunger including the magnitude of inequity within and between countries. 

Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future (United Nations Development Program, May 15, 2012)
The first-ever UNDP Africa Human Development Report is dedicated to the critical issue of food security on the African continent. The persistence of undernutrition in many African countries is due in part to decades-long neglect of the rural sector and international practices which have contributed to high levels of inequality, skewed control over resources, and limited access to essential services. Authors recommend a series of food security interventions aimed at agricultural productivity, nutrition policies, community resilience, and empowerment among marginalized groups.


No More TB Suspects: Time To Change the Way We Talk About TB (Stop TB Partnership, May 15, 2012)
In this compelling article, international tuberculosis experts call upon the TB community to replace words such as “defaulter”, “suspect”, and “control” with more dignified, patient-centered terms. Instead of reflecting widely-held assumptions that drive stigma and inequality, the terminology used by health service providers and authorities must acknowledge the inherent worth and dignity of all persons affected by TB. The World Health Organization is in the process of updating its recommended definitions and will issue final recommendations before the end of 2012.


Why Nurses Are the Unsung Heroes of Global Health (Sheila Davis, Huffington Post, May 8, 2012)
Sheila Davis, Global Nursing Director of Partners In Health, discusses the critical role of nurses in global health delivery. Nurses constitute 60-80 percent of the global health workforce and provide 90 percent of health care services worldwide. Yet they are largely absent from policy-making processes in the national and international health arenas. With coordinated investments in training, mentorship, and leadership, international partners can help the current and future generations of nurses to strengthen health systems and improve the quality of health care for millions of people in the poorest parts of the world.


Realigning Health with Care: Lessons in Delivering More with Less (Rebecca Onie, Paul Farmer, Heidi Behforouz, Stanford Social Innovation Review, May 2012)
A new article co-authored by PIH’s Paul Farmer and Heidi Behforouz identifies three ways to address the bloated health care spending in the US: incorporate the root causes of disease into treatment; deliver health services in homes and communities; and include nontraditional health workers in health care provision. The authors highlight three organizations that have improved health outcomes and lowered expenditures by pursuing a comprehensive definition of “health” that encompasses the relationship between health and poverty.


Another Blow Against Women – House Appropriations Committee Votes to Defund UNFPA (Valerie Phillipo, Huffington Post. May 17, 2012)
The day after the World Health Organization, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and several other UN bodies released a report heralding the sharp decline in maternal mortality over the past decade, the United States House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted to remove $39 million in funding for the UNFPA. US funding is critical to UNFPA’s ability to deliver life-saving health care to women and girls in developing countries. The decision by the House Appropriations Committee to jeopardize access to critical health services such as contraceptive supplies and emergency obstetric care is an affront to the health and dignity of women and girls everywhere.

Maternal Deaths Continue to Decline but More Progress Needed (UN News Centre, May 16, 2012) + Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010 (UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, World Bank, May 2012)
Last week, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank released an updated report focusing on the progress that has been made in reducing maternal mortality over the past decade. Between 1990 and 2010, the annual number of maternal deaths has reportedly dropped 47 percent. This decline is a result of concentrated efforts to address preventable pregnancy-related complications and improve access to family planning. Despite the progress, 99 percent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries. Reducing maternal mortality must remain a priority .Even with the decreases in mortality over the past decade, most regions will still fail to reach the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing maternal deaths by 75 percent by 2015. 

Mothers’ Health Worth the Investment (Ophelia Dahl, GlobalPost, May 13, 2012)
On Mother’s Day, Ophelia Dahl, Executive Director and Co-founder of Partners In Health, called for increased investment in mothers across the world. Despite medical advances over the past several decades, nearly 300,000 women still die every year in developing countries because they cannot afford or cannot access the care that they need to prevent most of these deaths. Partners In Health is committed to reducing maternal mortality by providing proven interventions such as prenatal care, family planning services, access to safe delivery with skilled attendants, and emergency obstetrical care including Cesarean sections with local partners in some of the poorest communities in the world. 

Saving Mothers (Sarah Palermo, Concord Monitor, May 13, 2012)
With the third highest HIV infection rate in the world, one of the highest TB infection rates, and limited access to health services, Lesotho is one of few countries where the maternal mortality rate actually increased between 1990 and 2008. In partnership with village leaders and the Government of Lesotho, Partners In Health trains community health workers to identify and accompany pregnant women to clinics for prenatal exams, delivery, and post-partum care. The death of a mother causes ripple effects from one family to entire communities to a country. Decreasing maternal deaths by providing access to high quality healthcare is critical to slowing these ripple effects.


Funding Dries Up Even As Rains Worsen Cholera Deaths (Jane Regan, IPS Network, May 18, 2012)
Despite the well-known fact that this year’s rainy season would bring increased cholera infections, many humanitarian actors have remained absent. Cholera cases have increased dramatically, with some cholera centers reporting a three-fold rise in the number of patients in April. The Pan American Health Organization predicts that between 200,000 and 250,000 more people will contract the disease during 2012. The government of Haiti lacks the necessary funding to expand prevention and treatment services and rebuild the water and sanitation infrastructure that is needed to end the cholera epidemic. This is a crucial time for donors to address the funding gap by making resources available for comprehensive cholera treatment and prevention.

Haiti: Where Has All the Money Gone? (Vijaya Ramachandran, Julie Walz, Center for Global Development, May 2012)
This new report from the Center for Global Development finds that improved reporting and accountability mechanisms are needed to monitor the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Haiti. However, instead of relying solely on private contractors and international charities to deliver essential services, Partners In Health recommends specific benchmarks for strengthening public institutions and community systems. This may include targets for: increasing local participation, contracting, hiring, procurement, and consultation; channeling resources directly through Haitian institutions and ministerial budgets; and supporting the development of robust plans, systems, and staff structures necessary to carry out daily activities of public ministries.


Lessons from Rwanda: Improving Maternal and Child Outcomes through Health System Strengthening (Toni Habinshuti, COREGroup, May 14, 2012)
Toni Habinshuti, Country Director of Inshuti Mu Buzima (IMB), Partners In Health’s Rwandan sister organization, presents the impact of strengthening health systems on the health of women and girls. In partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health, IMB has worked to strengthen health systems in three rural districts by expanding comprehensive health care and integrating services at the community, clinic, and hospital level. 

The Robin Hood Tax Campaign (Robin Hood Tax, May 17, 2012)
Activists around the globe are calling for governments to support a financial transaction tax (FTT) that could raise hundreds of billions of dollars to tackle poverty and inequality. In Chicago, hundreds of nurses demonstrated alongside other global health, labor, religious, climate change, and community activists as part of the May 15-22 Global Week of Action for the FTT, or Robin Hood Tax. Learn more and join the Robin Hood Tax Campaign.