Congrats to P&G for Winning the Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence

On Wednesday January 18, the thirteenth annual Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) were presented at the Harry S. Truman building in Washington, D.C. The 2011 ACE winners were selected from the following 13 finalists: Amway in China, ANOVA Food LLC in Indonesia, Archer Daniels Midland in Paraguay, Cargill in India, General Motors in Uzbekistan, Grenada Chocolate Company in Grenada, Intel in Vietnam, Johnson & Johnson in Russia, Joy Global Africa in South Africa, Procter & Gamble in Nigeria, Procter & Gamble in Pakistan, Sahlman Seafoods in Nicaragua, and Tiger Machinery in Russia.

In her opening remarks, Secretary Clinton said, “In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, corporations play an important role. What we are focused on here today is that when companies act responsibly they can make contributions that benefit everyone. For many people around the world the most direct contact they will have with the United States is through American companies.  It is how they learn who we are.”

One of the two ACE winners was long term PSI partner Procter & Gamble for work in both Nigeria and Pakistan. “In Nigeria, where the company has invested more than $70 million since 1999, the company has worked with schools to develop health programs for girls that reach 1 million students each year,” said Secretary Clinton.

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Interview with PSI’s Beth Skorochod on HIV/AIDS in Togo

PSI’s Beth Skorochod tells the story of how she went from being a mid-career Peace Corps volunteer doing HIV/AIDS projects in Swaziland to working with PSI in Togo. Beth helps administer programs for men who have sex with men, which is group that is at high risk for contracting HIV.  Listen to this radio program from

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Healthy Dose January 20, 2012

UN Predicts a “Massive” Reduction in HIV/AIDS in South Africa

An official with UNAIDS predicts that things are turning around in South Africa, which will see a significant drop in HIV/AIDS cases over the next decade.  AFP reports:

A map of South Africa“It now has more people with HIV infections than any country in the world, with 5.6 million. That is because a lack of political commitment before,” said Sheila Tlou, UNAIDS regional director for East and Southern Africa.

“However there is a turnaround in the new government under President (Jacob) Zuma which is committed,” in its fight against HIV and AIDS, she said.

“By 2020 there will be massive reductions in South Africa.”

Zuma, who has dramatically expanded South Africa’s AIDS treatment programme since taking office in 2009, last month unveiled a plan to halve the number of HIV infections over the next five years.

The five-year plan is the first drafted since the 2008 ouster of president Thabo Mbeki and his health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, known as Dr Beetroot for advocating vegetables rather medication to treat AIDS.

Tlou said East and Southern Africa was known as “the centre of the epidemic” because of the 34 million people living with HIV in the world, almost three quarters live in that region.

“One of our targets is to reduce new infections by 50 percent,” by 2015 she told a press conference in Geneva.

But Tlou noted that recent reductions in the commitment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria which assists UNAIDS could have a negative impact on the fight against the disease.

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The Freakonomics of Handwashing

In the mid-nineteenth century, Vienna General Hospital was considered a world-class research center. But the hospital’s maternity ward didn’t have such a good reputation…In 1847, one in six women died. And that was the year a young Hungarian-born doctor named Ignatz Semmelweis joined the staff. He was horrified by the situation. And he went digging in the numbers for a clue. Now, here was something strange: There were two separate maternity wards in the hospital – one staffed by doctors, who were all male, the other by midwives, who were female. The death rate in the midwives’ ward was far lower. So was it a guy thing that was causing all this death? One theory at the time held that birthing mothers were such fragile creatures that being seen naked by a male doctor was enough to kill them! Now, Semmelweis didn’t buy it. He also discovered that women who delivered their own babies, on the street, had an even lower rate of childbed fever

The most recent podcast from the Freakonomics mind of Stephen Dubner looks at how the importance of handwashing was discovered. It took the unfortunate death of a colleague to gangrene that helped Dr Semmelweis begin to understand that doctors were carrying “invisible cadaver particles” that would cause the infections. Dubner narrates, “Semmelweis figured if he could get rid of the smell, he could get rid of the dangerous particles. So he ordered every medical attendant who entered the doctors’ ward to submerge his hands in a chlorine wash before seeing patients. Within six months, the death rate of women in the doctors’ ward had plummeted.”

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Healthy Dose January 19, 2012

WHO: Unsafe Abortions Put Women At Risk Globally

A new WHO report published in the Lancet spotlights the risks of unsafe abortions worldwide. The BBC reports:

Kumba, a young pregnant mother, stands in the doorway of her home in the West Point area of Monrovia, Liberia.The World Health Organisation study suggests global abortion rates are steady, at 28 per 1,000 women a year.

However, the proportion of the total carried out without trained clinical help rose from 44% in 1995 to 49% in 2008.

The Lancet, which carried the report, said the figures were “deeply disturbing”.

Unsafe abortion is one of the main contributors to maternal death worldwide, and refers to procedures outside hospitals, clinics and surgeries, or without qualified medical supervision.

Women are more vulnerable to dangerous infection or bleeding in these environments.

n developing countries, particularly those with more restrictive abortion laws, most abortions are unsafe, with 97% of abortions in Africa described this way.

To compile the figures – often a difficult task in countries where abortion is illegal – the researchers used surveys, official statistics and hospital records.

They concluded that while the abortion rate had fallen since 1995, that drop had now levelled off, and overall, the rise in world population meant that there were 2.2 million more abortions in 2008 compared with 2003.

In the developed world, the proportion of pregnancies ending in abortion fell from 36% in 1995 to 26% in 2008.

Countries with restrictive abortion laws did not have a corresponding decrease in abortion rate – in some cases, the reverse was true.

Professor Beverly Winikoff, from Gynuity, a New York organisation which pushes for access to safer abortion, wrote in the Lancet: “Unsafe abortion is one of the five major contributors to maternal mortality, causing one in every seven or eight maternal deaths in 2008.

“Yet, when abortion is provided with proper medical techniques and care, the risk of death is negligible and nearly 14 times lower than that of childbirth.

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Asia’s Growing Health Inequality

In a report released late September, Asian Trends Monitoring showed how growth in Asia is up for many countries, but it is coupled with rising inequality.  The report focuses on three areas of inequality: access to infrastructure, maternal and child health and chronic disease in ASEAN, and the unconnected unbanked.

The infographic above shows how issues like infant mortality are a much higher burden on the poor that the wealthy.  This is by no means a surprise, rather it helps to illustrate that reaching the goal of a lower infant mortality is possible as it is already an option for some people in a country like Vietnam.  The same gap exists in immunizations.  From the report:

Immunisation coverage is taken as a primary indicator of a health system’s effectiveness by health experts. There are marked differences in immunisation coverage by location (urban versus rural) and wealth (highest versus lowest quintile), but the biggest discrepancy by far is the mother’s educational level (highest versus lowest). In the Philippines, mothers with the lowest levels of education are almost three times less likely than those with the highest levels of education to have immunised their 1-year old child against measles.

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Watch The Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence Live

Watch the thirteenth annual Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE).  ACE “recognizes the important role of U.S. businesses in advancing good corporate governance and democratic principles worldwide. The award honors exemplary business practices, corporate social responsibility, and innovation in a company’s overseas operations.”

The winners will be announced today at 11 AM.  Watch above to see who wins  The finalists are Amway in China, ANOVA Food LLC in Indonesia, Archer Daniels Midland in Paraguay, Cargill in India, General Motors in Uzbekistan, Grenada Chocolate Company in Grenada, Intel in Vietnam, Johnson & Johnson in Russia, Joy Global Africa in South Africa, Procter & Gamble in Nigeria, Procter & Gamble in Pakistan, Sahlman Seafoods in Nicaragua, and Tiger Machinery in Russia.

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Healthy Dose January 18, 2012

Polio on the Rise in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is regressing in its effort to eradicate polio. Years of decline have given way to a tripling of cases in 2011. The New York Times reporst:

Canada's Signature Project: Polio Eradication in Afghanistan / Projet de premier plan du Canada: Éradication de la poliomyélite en AfghanistanAfter years of steady decline, only 25 polio cases were reported in the country in 2010, prompting one international health care official to declare, “the Afghans are heroes.” But last year, the number tripled to 76, the Afghan Ministry of Public Health said. While the total remains small, polio is highly contagious and health experts say that each detected case is an indicator of hundreds of “silent” ones, mainly children with mild infections who become carriers.

Health workers are alarmed at the reversal of what has been both a local and a worldwide trend — particularly since some of the cases erupted far outside the disease’s traditional areas in Afghanistan. “This is a national tragedy to end up with a major polio outbreak, especially with all the effort they have put into it,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, the World Health Organization’s polio coordinator. “It increases the risk to neighboring countries and is both a local and national, and international, concern.”

President Hamid Karzai issued a statement through his office on Tuesday, in effect blaming the Taliban. “Those who stand in the way of vaccination are the true enemies of our children’s future,” Mr. Karzai said, calling on “the armed opposition to allow the vaccination teams to help save children against the lifetime paralysis.”

Health care officials said they had experienced no change in the militants’ tolerance for the vaccination efforts, and the Taliban reacted indignantly. “It is not for Karzai to ask us to attack or not to attack someone,” said the Taliban’s southern Afghanistan spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi .

He insisted there had been no change in Taliban policy toward polio vaccination teams, saying, “We have never attacked medical teams, as long as they coordinate with us when they enter areas under our control.”

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Kate Roberts: Build a Brand, Empower Champions, Change the World

PSI’s own Kate Roberts, VP for Corporate Marketing, Communications and Advocacy, contributed a chapter to the recently released book “Maximizing Marketing Communications Strategies: Leading marketing executives on establishing a unified strategy, connecting with the audience, and evaluating message effectiveness.”

In her chapter titled Build a Brand, Empower Champions, Change the World, Kate explains how PSI uses branding for good. We are proud to share with you an excerpt from Kate’s chapter:

The success of the YouthAIDS campaign demonstrated the effectiveness of using unconventional marketing ideas and partnerships to enhance PSI’s brand and support our health work. PSI now applies that approach to our brand strategy and marketing activities every day around the world. Whether it is a clean water video PSA campaign—that exchanged feces for water in a mock shower scene from Psycho—or a partnership with the Miss Universe Organization to deliver condoms, PSI uses the power of communication throughout its global network to attract partners, increase public health awareness, and empower new champions.

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Chairman Mao and the Discovery of Artemisinin

It might come to your surprise that one of the most important figures in the modern fight against malaria is none other than former Chinese leader Mao Zedong. It was his allocation of resources to assist the North Vietnamese battle both American troops and malaria that led to the discovery of artemisinin, the drug that is considered to be a major medical advancement in ending malaria.

This morning, the New York Times has a report on the history of artemisinin that is well worth reading.   One idea that is posited throughout the article is if the discovery should be considered for the Nobel Prize.  Weigh in in the comments section with your opinion.

Mao’s role was simple.

In the 1960s, he got an appeal from North Vietnam: Its fighters were dying because local malaria had become resistant to all known drugs. He ordered his top scientists to help.

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Healthy Dose January 17, 2012

TDR-TB Test Sparks Dispute Between Hospital and Indian MoH

India’s Ministry of Health is unhappy with how Hinduja Hospital handled its discovery of Total Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (TDR-TB). Deccan Chronicle reports:

The health ministry maintains that the hospital’s laboratory is not accredited to undertake such tests. The Centre also accused the hospital of spreading “unnecessary panic”.

Speaking to this newspaper, the director general of health services (DGHS) Dr Jagdish Prasad said, “A notice has been sent to the hospital as their laboratory is not accredited to conduct these high-end tests. We have asked them to give details regarding the tests that were conducted on these patients,” he said.

As of now there are only two government-run laboratories — National Tuberculosis Laboratory in Bengaluru and National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis, Chennai — that have the capacity to conduct tests on second line treatment. “These are hi-tech laboratories accredited by WHO-approved laboratories,” he added.
Blaming the hospital for spreading “unnecessary panic” in the country the DGHS further said that Hinduja Hospital deliberately used the word “total drug resistance” which is not even a term identified by the WHO. “These could actually be those extensive drug resistant (XDR) cases that are known. There is nothing called TDR,” added Dr Prasad. However, even XDR has a very miniscule chance of cure.

Meanwhile, Dr Zahrir Udwadia consultant physician at Hinduja Hospital and who has been at the forefront of TDR TB diagnosis in India in an email said, “There are 27 WHO designated Intermediate Reference National Labs (IRNLs) in the country. The Hinduja is one of them.” He went on to add that the Mumbai Directly Observed Treatment Short programmes send all suspected multi-drug resistant samples to this very laboratory as they lack the facilities to do drug susceptibility testing in any government-based lab in the city. “Instead of shooting the messenger, they should admit that a decade of neglect of MDR-TB patients by the public sector has resulted in TDR-TB,” he said

Meanwhile, medical director of Hinduja Hospital Dr Gustad Daver said, “We have not received any such notice from the government. As and when we get the intimation we will respond to that and will certainly will comply in all manners.”

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Interview: Benin Minister of Health Prof. Dorothée K. Gazard

The Association Beninoise pour le Marketing Social, an affiliate of PSI in Benin, took time to speak with Benin’s Minister of Health, Prof. Dorothée K. Gazard for their FoQus newsletter.  In the discussion, Prof. Gazard shares her vision for moving Family and Reproductive health forward in Benin. 

FoQus : After six months at the helm of the Ministry of Health, what can be learned from the actions you have taken?

Prof. GAZARD: I would first like to thank you for the honor you have bestowed upon me to express myself in your magazine on issues related to people’s health in our country. It is always a pleasure to respond to your questions, because it is an exercise that informs your readers concerning key issues relating to the health system of our country. The health sector is a sensitive area that deserves special attention. Since I took of the head of the Ministry of Health, the actions we have taken can be summarized in three points:

1) The first thing I proceeded to do is to analyze the existing situation. It was important to know the state of the system and measure the extent of challenges. In this context:
– I conducted a series of scheduled or unannounced visits to health facilities both public, private, faith-based along with other organizations (such as fire departments) involved in the health system of our country;
– I met health facility directors on all levels of the health pyramid in Natitingou during the Independence Day celebration.

2) As I took over as the Director of the Ministry we instigated the following actions:
– The building of a new team.
– The orienting of new workers to teamwork and the vision of the Head of State in the health sector. This was achieved by organizing a two-day workshop on the subject.
– The immediate resumption of dialogue with social partners, including the implementation of the sectoral committee for social dialogue and periodic meetings conducted with social partners to maintain a strong relationship.
– The resumption of contact with the technical and financial partners, including the reinstatement of quarterly meetings with all contributors to national health. The first day of work with the PTF and the Ministry of Health was recently held in Ouidah, November 3, 2011.
– Meeting with the media during a press dinner at which the Head of State shared his vision concerning public health.

3) The main reforms:
These reforms are just variations of the President of the Republic’s vision for national health. One of the greatest reforms already executed is
~The presidential initiative for free malaria treatments for pregnant women and children under five years.

Further reforms are about to be initiated. They are as follows:
– Universal Health Insurance Plan (UHIP).
– The extension of free caesarean sections for obstetric emergencies such as hemorrhaging and complications due to respiratory diseases in birthing.

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