Tag Archives: global health

Women in Office = Better Healthcare for Women

By now, every Republican-led move related to women’s health feels like a legislative subtweet directed at feminism and the female body—perhaps a thinly-veiled backlash to the perceived threat on male supremacy, or just a muscle-flexing reminder of the gendered power dynamic behind healthcare policy. (See, for instance, the all-male contingent reveling in the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act, and the Senate’s unveiling of its new healthcare working group of 13 white men.)

In theory, political representation shouldn’t determine political priority: Our elected officials should represent the interests of their constituents regardless of gender. But in reality, the gender of our public servants sets the women’s health agenda, and in the US, men control a filibuster-proof majority.

Full article on VICE

Breathing Life into Medical Oxygen Ahead of WHO Committee Decision

Mount Kilimanjaro stands nearly 20,000 feet above sea level, its snow-capped peaks providing a stark contrast against northern Tanzania’s otherwise equatorial backdrop. As Africa’s tallest mountain, it draws tens of thousands of climbers a year: some of whom reach the summit successfully, many of whom must stop short because of low levels of oxygen in their blood (the peak’s atmospheric pressure offers about half the breathable air as at sea level). The irony, however, is that in Tanzania – and nearly every country in sub-Saharan Africa – you don’t need to climb a mountain to reach an environment with too little oxygen; you just have to walk into a hospital.

Oxygen is one of the most frequently-required medical interventions in the world, yet it remains in critically short supply in low-resource hospitals. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that less than half of health facilities in Africa have reliable access to medical-grade oxygen – let alone the trained staff, supplies and infrastructure to deliver it.

Full article on Impatient Optimists

The Women of Rural Zambia Walk Miles to Give Birth

Hariane hadn’t heard the expression “Life is about the journey, not the destination.” To this modest young mother living in rural Zambia, her life, and that of her newborn daughter, was very much about the destination.

“When I was due for delivery, I came to the clinic but there were no nurses or staff there,” Hariane says. We’re sitting in a one-bed labor ward in Zambia’s Southern Province, just out of the earshot of a dozen mothers and newborns waiting for immunizations. “As I walked back to the village, the baby’s head was already coming out. I didn’t know what to do.”

So Hariane gave birth to her daughter, Violet, under a tree next to a narrow dirt road about an hour’s walk from her village. In other words, her childbirth happened on the journey because her destination was out of reach.

Full article on VICE/Tonic

On World Anesthesia Day, It’s Time to Wake Up to a Critical Medical Breakthrough

Looking back on a long and storied history of medical breakthroughs, we’re inclined to remember the discoveries that take the form of lifesaving solutions: penicillin, the polio vaccine, radiotherapy, antiretroviral drugs. Our minds turn almost naturally to the game-changing inventions designed to cure or prevent disease; rarely do they conjure up those that sow the seeds of a whole new playing field.

Such is the story of modern anesthesia, first administered in Boston on this day in 1846. If surgery was the game-changing solution to save or improve lives, anesthesia was the discovery that allowed the game (as we know it) to be played in the first place. And it’s only fitting that we rarely remember its role.

Full article on Huffington Post

NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo Rejects the Status Quo of Surgical Care in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Last week, Mashable published a video from an organization called Cordaid that follows a pregnant woman on her way to a maternity clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The video is set in real time, so viewers have the rare opportunity to witness this journey in its entirety. Spoiler alert: it’s five hours long.

The woman, Chanceline, lives 17 miles from the nearest source of healthcare, and because there’s no transportation available to her, she has to make the trek on foot. While pregnant. Across rough terrain. Through a rainstorm. Alone.

Heartbreaking as it may be, Chanceline’s story is commonplace in the DRC. Despite being Africa’s second-largest country by land area and fourth-largest by population, the DRC ranks among the worst when it comes to health and wellbeing.

Full article on Huffington Post

Curbing Road Traffic Deaths in Developing Countries with Emergency Care

This Sunday is one of those international awareness days you don’t hear much about. Football teams won’t wear a particular color, Google won’t change its logo and newspapers probably won’t devote their front page to the cause. But its importance and relevance are nonetheless profound.

Sunday is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. For most of us, this topic needs no introduction: we’ve all likely had a brush with a traffic accident at some point in our lives; and worse, we all likely know someone who’s been seriously injured, if not killed, in an accident. The impact of these severe injuries and deaths can reverberate across families and communities – their pain immediate yet long-lasting, their shock hard-to-imagine yet overwhelmingly real.

Full article on Huffington Post 

Doctors, Researchers – Tear Down this Paywall: Paving a new road to research-based action in global development

Last month, the world received some encouraging news: Liberia was declared Ebola-free. After a 14-month battle with the virus that claimed nearly 5,000 Liberian lives and brought the country to its knees, the World Health Organization announced that the devastating epidemic was over (Guinea and Sierra Leone, however, are still experiencing new cases).

As Liberia recovered from the outbreak and began the long, uphill process of rebuilding its health system for other ongoing and future health challenges, some of its leaders reflected on what could have been done to prevent the Ebola outbreak. In a New York Times editorial written about a month before the epidemic’s conclusion, Bernice Dahn, Vera Mussah and Cameron Nutt discuss a troubling reality: that European researchers knew about latent Ebola antibodies in Liberian blood samples as long as 30 years ago, positioning Liberia in the Ebola endemic zone. Yet, like many studies conducted by Western researchers, the findings sat atop the proverbial ivory tower, out of reach of the Liberian doctors and policymakers who could have acted to prevent the eventual outbreak.

This disconnect between development research and the communities it studies is an all-too-common trend in an international development community that hosts a Healthcare in Africa Summit in London and discusses poverty reduction strategies fresh off private jets.

Full article on Next Billion 

The Peaks Unclimbed: Former President Joyce Banda on the Unmet Goals for Girls and Women

Well, we made it. We’ve reached 2015. The countdown to the most monumental milestone in the history of international development has reached its final stretch as the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals quickly approaches. There has been no greater force of good in the fight against poverty and disease than the MDGs, having improved the lives of billions of people (yes, with a “b”) in one fell swoop of eight goals, thousands of committed partners and communities and billions of dollars in support.

But if the MDGs are Mount Everest, we’re currently sitting on a plateau somewhere halfway up: Progress is as undeniable as it is unprecedented, yet most of the goals remain unfulfilled. We are the climbers alternating glances at the outstanding summits and the path ascended. And as tempting as it may be marvel at how far we’ve climbed, Forbes’ Most Powerful Woman in Africa in 2014 believes that we will be judged by the peaks we couldn’t reach, and the millions of girls and women hanging in the balance.

“We’ve reached 2015 and it’s clear that great progress is being made,” former President of Malawi Joyce Banda recently told me (in a rare and eminently generous conversation). “But when we take stock of the MDGs, we will find that we’ve come up short for our girls and women.”

Full article on Huffington Post 

Global Development’s Latest Challenge: Conference Fatigue

They say those who can’t do, teach. But those who can do neither? They attend conferences.

Harsh as this claim may seem, anyone who has attended a global development conference in recent years could attest to the growing degree of uniformity among these meetings: their format, their speakers, their methods of audience engagement, the depth (or lack thereof) of their dialogue, the inevitable badge-gazing as attendees stroll through lobbies and hallways, eyes glued to nametags and lanyards. Isn’t it time these conferences were held accountable for serving a purpose commensurate with the goals to which they so loudly and so often aspire?

Full article on Huffington Post 

‘Sustainability’ Remains the Holy Grail: But the road to achieving it is paved with divergent visions

There are few, if any, keywords that receive as much airtime in global health and development as “sustainability”* (save for perhaps the dreaded I’s of “innovation” and “impact”). Fourteen letters long, it has at least as many connotations, as elusive to articulate as it is to achieve. Yet it remains the holy grail of all global development programs. It is the lighthouse that guides social entrepreneurships, the posts adjoining global health field goals, the fountain of youth empowerment. In (slightly) less figurative terms, it is the heart of the post-2015 development agenda, pumping blood into redefined interventions and targets that seek to end poverty and disease.

Two weeks ago, global health leaders gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the Partners’ Forum to shape the post-2015 agenda for maternal and child health. And, naturally, sustainability reared its mystical head. On the surface, it would appear that the roughly 1,200 participants from NGOs, UN agencies, governments, companies and universities reached an important consensus: Sustainability is and will remain a chief element of all efforts to end preventable maternal and child mortality. But just below the surface lay a truth even more profound: Sustainability manifests differently for just about everyone.

Full article on Next Billion 

Farm to Family (and, Hopefully, Health and Wealth): Produce distribution model in India builds in economic empowerment

When you think about efforts to improve global health, your mind is likely to turn to medical interventions: vaccines, health worker training, supplies, health infrastructure improvements and the like. But ensuring the health and well-being for low-income and vulnerable communities throughout the world often requires much more.

In India, “much more” comes in many forms. But for the social enterprise eKutir and its VeggieKart initiative, “much more” means agriculture and nutrition, and it means filling gaps in the value chain so farmers and consumers alike can share in healthier, more productive livelihoods.

Full article on Next Billion 

Ziqitza ambulances make money while serving India’s poor

In the ever-evolving landscape of global business, it is not uncommon to conflate traditional business with social business – particularly when it comes to health.

How does, say, a pharmaceutical company that makes billions in profit by selling health products differ from a small enterprise that improves the health of a surrounding community and manages to stay financially solvent?

It is a nuanced distinction, but an important one. And it is one that Sweta Mangal, CEO of Ziqitza Health Care Limited – a leading social enterprise in India – recently made clear to me.

Full article on Christian Science Monitor