One Year Later: From Promise to Action on Ending Preventable Child Deaths

By Nicole Schiegg, Former USAID Senior Advisor; Strategic Comms Consultant

2013-06-13-430045_10151726897765992_1502893062_n.jpgThis week we celebrate the one-year commemoration of the Child Survival Call to Action held in Washington, DC. Working at USAID at the time, I have a unique insight into the organization of this milestone event, and will always remember the experience fondly. Not only did the Call to Action unite and reenergize the global health and extended community towards a common goal — to end preventable child deaths — it catalyzed momentum at country-level that has been nothing short of extraordinary.

A few months before the Call to Action, USAID turned a conference room into a team room that became the center of the Agency’s activity – one wall was covered with hundreds of 5th birthday photos and the other was entirely dry eraser depicting ideas, logistics, and anything else that was the task of the day. About 6 of us virtually lived in this room, but it packed in 30 staff when we had our all-hands meetings. What inspired me about the team is that it consisted of people who had worked in development for their careers and folks who were brand new to the field. Everyone had a laser-like focus towards June 14-15 and what it represented. No one was committed more to this goal than USAID Administrator Raj Shah who frequented the team room for meetings and updates.

The Call to Action was a special and surreal experience when it finally arrived. A few days after it ended, I had to re-watch the webcast to grasp the enormity of what had transpired. Over 70 countries signed a pledge to accelerate action towards ending preventable child deaths. Private sector leaders committed to new partnerships – as did faith and civil society organizations.

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Foreian Aid is Essential say Reps Crenshaw and Smith

Republican Ander Crenshaw of Florida’s 4th Congressional District, and Democrat Adam Smith of Washington’s 9th Congressional District make the case for foreign aid in an OpEd for Politico. The co-chairs for the Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance say that foreign aid is essential and cost-effective. They write:

Foreign assistance programs are important for spurring our economy, too. More than half of our exports go to the developing world now and that number is growing. The key to expanding our economy and creating jobs here at home lies beyond our shores, and reaching the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside the U.S. requires investment in these rapidly growing markets.

Careful attention must be paid to how we spend every taxpayer dollar. As the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance, our goal is to help ensure the global investments we make bring the best return possible to America.

Significant strides have been made over the past decade to make these programs more effective, and a new “Report on Reports” released by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition details areas of consensus on how we can do even better.

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Why non-state education and why CEI?

By Nicholas Burnett, Managing Director for Education at Results for Development Institute, leader at the Center for Education Innovations

I was in Ghana earlier this year, where as many as two-thirds of the children living in slum areas outside the capital of Accra are estimated to attend private schools, quite a few of which I visited.  Though some think it unfortunate, the poor are increasingly enrolling in non-state schools in Africa and in South Asia, as they have for many decades in Latin America.  These non-state schools include those run by non-government organizations and those owned and operated by private proprietors.

Why do I say some think it unfortunate? We believe far too many people come to the table with preconceived notions about what works and what doesn’t work in education, all too often based on labels such as “public” and “private,” and too rarely based on evidence and results. But, as we move toward 2015 with the Education for All and Millennium Development goals clearly not going to be met, in terms of either enrolment or quality, it is time to move beyond ideology and focus pragmatically on harnessing all parts of the education system and on what works in practice.

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Making Girls and Women a Priority Every Day

By Dr Fred Sai

As we convene in Malaysia for Women Deliver’s third global conference, we have much to celebrate. In the past year alone, we have made tremendous strides in women’s health and equality: the United Nations adopted a historic resolution to end female genital mutilation; global leaders convened at the London Summit on Family Planning to make $2.6 billion in new financial pledges and a series of unparalleled policy commitments to family planning; and together, we celebrated the first-ever International Day of the Girl Child.

Individual countries have also made remarkable headway toward improving women’s health and equality. I have witnessed progress in reproductive and maternal health in my home country of Ghana. Thanks to improved care and services, the country’s maternal mortality rate decreased by approximately 40 percent between 1990 and 2010. Although these are strong steps forward, they can and should be accelerated.

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Why "Partnerships" Were All the Buzz at Women Deliver

This is a special guest post from Jill Filipovic

Does the private sector have a role improving health systems? According to some participants at this year’s Women Deliver conference on maternal health, absolutely.

The conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, brought together thousands of health care providers, advocates, politicians, journalists, activists and human rights workers to discuss the challenges, victories and potential solutions in the maternal health field. One of those solutions: Private sector involvement.

Most people who work in the maternal health field are there for one reason, said Jennifer Pope, Director of Support for International Family Planning Organisation at PSI, in a Women Deliver panel on the private sector and health care. They’re working for “Sara.”

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Senator Frank Lautenberg, Global Health Champion

By Elizabeth Petoskey, Advocacy & Policy Consultant, PSIMy Approved Portraits

The global health community lost a champion today.  We are saddened by the passing of New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, who was one of America’s greatest advocates for women’s health and reproductive rights around the world.

In his powerful role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Lautenberg fought to protect access to family planning services for women internationally. He worked hard to, despite never succeeding, permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy, a policy better know as the “Global Gag Rule” which prevents foreign NGOs from receiving federal funding if they provide abortion services with private funds.

Senator Lautenberg tirelessly advocated to protect and expand the U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and to integrate family planning services in other global health and development programs.

In times of proposed severe cuts to malaria, the Global Fund and bilateral HIV/AIDS funding, Senator Lautenberg called on U.S. leadership to step up and protect these vital, life-saving programs.

One of the final bills Senator Lautenberg introduced on the floor of the Senate in April demonstrated his lasting commitment to reproductive rights and strong global health legacy that he leaves behind.  The “Peace Corps Equity Act of 2013” would provide Peace Corps Volunteers with access to the same standard of health care that most women with federal health care coverage already receive, including coverage of abortions in instances of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is endangered.

Senator Lautenberg faithfully served the people of New Jersey and fought for the voiceless globally for almost 30 years. PSI extends our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Senator Lautenberg.

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Generation Z Delivers For Women's Health

By Joy Marini, MS, PA-C, Director, Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson

A few days ago, my 17-year-old daughter asked for help on a school project about “Generation Z.” I Googled it immediately. Apparently, “Generation Z” describes those born at the tail end of the Millennial generation (approximately 1982-2002). They are the first generation to grow up with a computer in their home. They are reliant on technology to communicate and surveys indicate that they text and tweet as much as almost 80 times a day.

They also want to make a difference. When the first wave of Millennials became teens, volunteerism and community service surged.

As I write, I am at this year’s Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, the triennial gathering of the most committed leaders for the global health and empowerment of women and girls. This year’s conference includes something new and innovative that puts the strengths and spirit of the new generation to its best use: the 100 Young Leaders program.

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Sarah Brown: Grassroots Mobilization Saves Mothers' Lives

This special edition of Impact, the global health magazine of PSI, was produced in partnership with Women Deliver and the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. This issue, launched in conjunction with the Women Deliver 2013 Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, brings insightful dialogue on the value of investing in girls and women’s health. Our hope is that this issue will call attention to the urgent need for increased investment in girls and women in the developing world. 

No need to explain here the recent progress in reducing needless maternal deaths around the world and the challenges ahead. At Women Deliver, most participants have devoted their working lives and a lifelong passion to feminism, equality, access to rights and fair treatment. We are looking at the final run toward the 2015 Millennium Development Goal deadline and must never give up working for further progress.

It is not good enough that pregnancy and childbirth remain the biggest killers of girls and women in many countries. It is not acceptable that there are still barriers in terms of access to quality health care, choices regarding reproductive health and age of marriage, and opportunities for education, employment and personal safety.

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HIV: Let's Finish The Job

By Beth Skorochod, Senior Technical Advisor, Sexual Reproductive Health and TB Department, Population Services International

Pililani Julius is twenty-three years old, from Mtambalika village in the Mulanje district of Malawi. Already the mother of two children, Pililani recently lost her third child, a death likely due to pediatric HIV complications. At the time, Pililani did not know that she was HIV positive — meaning that she was unable to take life-saving treatment that could have prevented transmission to her baby.

Today, Pililani is pregnant with her fourth child — and, this time, she is armed with knowledge. Prior to becoming pregnant, Pililani and her husband had watched an open-air drama performance run by PSI/Malawi, which explained the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and of taking treatment to prevent transmission during pregnancy. Pililani and her husband are now on treatment, protecting their own health and future as well as that of the new baby on the way.

Pililani’s story is an important and hopeful reminder of one of the global health community’s greatest success stories: the prevention, and hopefully, soon-to-be elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Today, thanks to the combined efforts of governments, companies, NGOs, health professionals, researchers and everyday volunteers, more children are born free of HIV than ever before.

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The Post 2015 Agenda Needs to be Different from its Predecessor

By Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

There are few more inspiring thoughts that the one set out in the vision of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel, namely that extreme poverty can be eradicated in our time. It is a vision and a belief which compels us all to take action.

There are many technical and academic definitions of poverty. But I take the view that if you are hungry, don’t have access to clean drinking water, live in conditions where hygiene and sanitation are nonexistent, are unable to access health care, where your children can’t go to school, where you have no prospect of getting a job and where there is no energy to cook your food or warm your home then you are poor.

For these reasons I believe that the post 2015 Agenda should be built upon the big social targets of hunger, water, health, education and so on which were set out in the original Millennium Development Goals. We should of course do everything in our power to ensure that as many of those goals can be met by the original deadline of 2015 – we still have some 1000 days to make a difference – but in the event that we don’t quite make it then a new framework should in my view commit the nations of the world to deliver in full the goals that were agreed by the UN General Assembly in 2000.

In four important respects however the post 2015 agenda needs to be different from its predecessor.

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What Every Mom Deserves on Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is coming up soon and there is no better time than now to recognize the mothers in your life. There’s a reason those coupons you made for Mother’s Day when you were little were such a big hit. No matter what her challenges, every mom deserves a little extra love.

We have some cards that you can send out today and a few stories that we want to share with you. Give them a read and send out a card!

Giving moms a whine-free day:

Jeanine’s kids would have severe stomach aches a couple of times a month. The water from her village’s contaminated well made them so sick, going to school was impossible. PSI showed the mothers in her village how easy it was to use an inexpensive water purification product. Now the kids are dressed and ready for school before sunrise without complaint.

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Global Fund Beat: One Month Into the Launch of the New Funding Model

By Hsin-yi Lee with input from Kate Hencher, Senior Manager & Cedric Mingat, SPU Technical Advisor from the Strategic Partnerships Unit

As the New Funding Model hit the ground, countries that were invited to participate in the transition phase have started to engage with preparatory work. Since the New Funding Model discarded the old rounds-based system and moved towards a more iterative grant making process,  PSI platforms are reviewing national strategies and actively engaging in dialogue with relevant stakeholders at country-level.

As described by Global Fund’s Executive Director, Mark Dybul, in a blog post on the Global Fund website “The cornerstone of our new approach is continuous communication. It starts with dialogue among partners who are working together in each country. The partners and the approach will be tailored to each country because no one size fits all.”

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