Healthy Dose: Funding for Maternal and Child Health Drops for the First Time Since 2003

September 21, 2012

Mother and child, Zimbabwe

A new report shows that aid aimed at tackling the maternal and child health MDGs declined between 2009 and 2010. The Guardian reports:

“We have been tracking aid for maternal, newborn and child health since 2003,” said Justine Hsu, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, first author of the Countdown study published by the Lancet. “Every year we have seen a steady increase. This is the first time that we have seen a slight decrease, of 0.5%. It is a very slight decrease, but it equates to $32m.”

The increase in funding in the previous year was largely due to a few new donors, says the report. “The 2008-09 increase, from $5,307m to $6,511m, was partly a result of six new donors in 2009 reporting disbursements and a large increase in contributions from the Gavi Alliance,” it says.

Looking at the 74 countries that Countdown prioritises as needing the most help, there is not a drop, but a slight increase, of 2.9%, in funding. But that contrasts with increases of 16% and 20% in 2009 and 2008, respectively.

Over the period that Countdown has been tracking, funding for maternal and child health has more than doubled, from $2,566m in 2003, to $6,480m in 2010, reflecting global concern that MDGs 4 and 5 – to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health – were the least likely to be reached.

But the slowdown will worry campaigners and the wider development community, because maternal and child health now has arguably the highest profile of all issues and would be expected to do better than other areas in attracting funds.

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Global Health and Development Beat

MalnutritionMalawi is responding to a potential food crisis by providing subsidies to support the growth of protein-rich crops.

AIDS – Stigma remains a challenge for people in Uganda living with AIDS, reports IRIN.

CholeraThe BBC put together a photo-essay depicting the cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone.

Dengue – Cases of dengue continue to be confirmed in Lahore as the Lahore General Hospital took measures to double down on its treatment efforts.

Child Mortality – The latest figures from the Philippines census shows a decline in under-five mortality.

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The Players

Red Cross – Made a new appeal for funding to meet the needs of Sierra Leone’s cholera outbreak.

WHO – Cholera cases are declining in parts of Sierra Leone, but the WHO says that the response effort should not be scaled back.

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Buzzing in the Blogs

The response to NCDs can learn from the AIDS effort, says UNAIDS director Peter Piot in the Huffington Post.

I believe we have learned much from AIDS that can help leaders design effective and sustainable responses to NCDs:

- Leadership: Strong national leadership at the highest level was critical in achieving a coordinated and broad-based response to AIDS. Just as national AIDS programs have served as the basis for international support of AIDS funding, national governments and international donors should invest in country-based NCD programs.

- Key Role of People Affected: People living with HIV have been playing a key role in raising the profile of AIDS, holding governments and international organizations accountable andmobilizing affected communities. With the exception of survivors of breast cancer, this is rarely the case with NCDs. People affected with NCDs must step forward and play a more prominent role.

- Multidisciplinary Response: AIDS was not simply a health problem. It took many years for the AIDS response to evolve from a purely infectious disease approach to a broader societalapproach. The NCD problem won’t be fixed by medical professionals alone. We need a response that is multidisciplinary and society-wide.

- Rallying the World: We must rally the whole world around NCDs the way we did with AIDS. Communication messages came from the ground up. Souls were touched. There was a clear ask. Civil society and NGOs from around the world were engaged. It takes time, but we’re making a good beginning in building the NCD movement.

- Time-Bound Targets and Accountability: The AIDS response benefitted from global and country-level commitments with concrete indicators and agreed targets. It is vital that NCDs have these as well. In May, the World Health Assembly approved a target of reducing mortality from NCDs by 25 percent by 2015. That’s a promising start, but more is needed. The NCDAlliance has put a great deal of thought behind a comprehensive set of asks. Let us add our voice and advocate for those.

- Prevention and Treatment: Despite successes in both AIDS prevention and treatment, nearly twice as many people are newly infected with HIV as are put on treatment every year. We cannot treat ourselves out of the AIDS pandemic. In the case of NCDs, treatment is important but prevention is key. We must invest resources in both prevention and treatment.

- Science and Technology: Of course, technology and science played a role in the AIDS response, particularly the discovery of antiretroviral treatment, but we also learned there were limits to our reliance on technology. Indeed, there are technical solutions for NCDs, but NCDs are fundamentally not a technical problem: this is a bigger challenge than giving everyone a pill and monitoring blood pressure. I’m convinced we need radical changes in lifestyle, in how society is organized and in the business practices of the food and beverage industry.

- Efficient Resource Utilization: The urgency of the AIDS response sometimes caused ineffective use of resources. We cannot afford those mistakes with NCDs. In this era of scarce resources, we need to ensure access to the most feasible, cost-effective and sustainable NCD interventions to the populations most at risk, while continuously learning from programs and services on the ground.

- The AIDS response taught us that efforts to address a pandemic are incremental and take time. We must have patience. And we need to be both opportunistic and strategic to design an NCD response that is commensurate with the scale of the problem.

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Capital Events

Friday

12:00 PM - Can Microfinance Deliver on Its Potential? - SAIS

Saturday

11:00 AM - Women in Social Entrepreneurship: Strength and Support via Innovation and Philanthropy

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By Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy, Photo Credit

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