Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) and the official theme for this year is “Equality for women is progress for all.”

The origin of International Women’s Day dates back to the early 1900’s and now every year on March 8, people around the world rally together to commemorate and support women. International Women’s Day is not only a time to celebrate achievements, but also a time to reflect on the progress made and call for increased changes. From women’s rights and gender equality to abuse and sex trafficking, various social, political, and economic issues concerning women are highlighted and become points of discussion (and even protest) around IWD.

The Millennium Development Goals call for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and during the IWD opening ceremony at the United Nations today, Hilary Clinton, known for being a champion of women, said “women and girls and the cause of gender equality must be at the heart” of the UN’s agenda to promote development around the world. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon echoed her sentiments, saying in his message, “This International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it.”

This plays nicely into the ongoing debate on the post-2015 development agenda. We all know there are major issues around the access, quality, and availability of health services to women in developing countries, and that these issues are often further complicated by cultural and religious norms. I think it’s safe to say that although IWD is only one day a year, the discussion on women’s rights as a core component of global development will continue. It is essential.

Here’s a roundup of some IWD 2014 content in case you missed it:

“The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.” — Charles Malik

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? Tell us in the comments below.

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Ethiopia Has Reached MDG 4

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are goals the United Nations and its global partners established in 2000. There are eight goals focused on addressing worldwide social issues including poverty, health, hunger, inequality, education, environment, and sustainability with the target to make measurable improvements in all these areas by 2015. 

Earlier this month, UNICEF released a report outlining trends and progress towards MDG 4, which is to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. The report highlights work being done to meet this MDG, as well as challenges and disparities that have slowed progress. 

One of the biggest takeaways from the report is that Ethiopia has already achieved MDG 4 despite facing major obstacles such as a severe shortage of health professionals (there is only one doctor for every 36,000 people). The driving forces behind this achievement included strong commitment from the Ethiopian government, support from external organizations, and the use of innovative programs to reach communities throughout the country. Ethiopia joins Bangladesh, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, Timor-Leste, and United Republic of Tanzania as another high-mortality country that reached MDG 4 before 2015. 

This news is quite timely considering the 68th session of the UN General Assembly opened last week with a focus on defining a post-2015 development agenda. As 2015 approaches, I am eager to see increased analysis of MDG progress and heightened discussions among members of the international development community about what’s next for global health. Stay tuned!

Conference Calls and Radio Shows of Interest

Our very own Mini Murthy and Elvira Beracochea are co-hosting a radio show on the MDGs! The inaugural episode aired last week, but you can listen to it in the archives and tune in for future episodes. They will be on every Thursday at 12 p.m. EST. More information can be found below.

Millennium Development Goals: Progress and Challenges

A NEW AND EXCITING PROGRAM DEBUTS THIS WEEK ON AV RADIO
PROGRAM: Millennium Development Goals
TOPIC OF DISCUSSION: Millennium Development Goals: Progress and Challenges
PLEASE JOIN THIS WEEK’S DISCUSSION LIVE BY PHONE OR SKYPE
WHEN: THURSDAY, MARCH 15TH, 2012
TIME: 12: 00 P.M. to 1: 00 P.M. EASTERN STANDARD TIME
TO PARTICIPATE BY PHONE: CALL THIS NUMBER DURING SHOWTIME: (760) 283-0850
TO JOIN BY SKYPE ADD: AFRICANVIEWS (CALL IN DURING SHOWTIME)

TOPIC’S BACKGROUND:

In 2000, 189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. This pledge became the eight Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. The MDGs provide a framework for the entire UN system to work coherently together toward a common end. UNDP, global development network on the ground in 177 countries and territories, is in a unique position to advocate for change, connect countries to knowledge and resources, and coordinate broader efforts at the country level. In September 2010, the world recommitted itself to accelerate progress towards these goals.

The declaration established eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and time-bound targets by which progress can be measured. With the 2015 deadline looming, how much progress has been made? And is the pace of progress sufficient to achieve the goals? The MDGs break down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators.

In our inaugural episode we hope to give a brief over view of the progress and challenges made from the year 2000- 2005 and focus on Sub Saharan Africa to review the progress made with reference to MDGs 1 and 4.

Join us as we explore this very important topic on MDGs.

HOST: DR. PADMINI MURTHY
Padmini (Mini) Murthy is a physician and an activist who did her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has practiced medicine in various countries. She has a Master’s in Public Health and a Masters in Management from New York University (NYU). Murthy has been on the Dean’s list at NYU stein hart School of Education and named Public service scholar at the Robert F Wagner Graduate School at New York University. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist.

CO-HOST: DR. ELVIRA BERACOCHEA
Elvira Beracochea, MD, MPH, has more than 25 years of experience that encompass her work as physician, public health and international development expert, human rights advocate, epidemiologist, health policy advisor, researcher, health systems and hospital manager, consultant, professor and coach. She has worked in over 30 countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the South Pacific. Dr Elvira is committed to helping realize the right to health and the right to development and to improving the effectiveness of development assistance. For this reason, in 2005, she founded MIDEGO, an organization with an urgent rights-based mission: accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approved by the United Nations in the year 2000.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM:
The Millennium Development Goal is a weekly discussion on AV Radio based on the Millennium Declaration, adopted by all 189 United Nations Member States in 2000, promised a better world with less poverty, hunger and disease; a world in which mothers and children have a greater chance of surviving and of receiving an education, and where women and girls have the same opportunities as men and boys. It promised a healthier environment and greater cooperation-a world in which developed and developing countries work in partnership for the betterment of all.

LISTEN TO THIS RADIO PROGRAM ARCHIVES AT: http://www.africanviews.org/index.php/av-radio/av-radio/AV-Radio/womens-education_c1021_m157/


Next month, APHA’s Trade and Health Forum will be holding an open Educational Session on Tobacco and International Trade Agreements. It will take place on April 12 at 2:30 PM Pacific/5:30PM Eastern.

The first 30 minutes of the call will be an educational session about recent activity pertaining to alcohol and tobacco in trade agreements and the question of “carve outs”. Donald Zeigler, PhD, Director of Prevention and Healthy Lifestyles at the American Medical Association (AMA) will lead the session. Dr. Zeigler has been active in the Trade and Health Forum, representing the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Section of the American Public Health Association and has been interested in trade and health issues for almost a decade. He was instrumental in getting the AMA to adopt policy on trade and has worked with other medical specialty societies to adopt policy, as well. The AMA recently called on the US Trade Representative to carve out tobacco and alcohol from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
The second 30 minutes of the call will be dedicated to Trade and Health Forum business. You are welcome to join for the full call, and we welcome your input.

To dial in, please call (605) 475-4850 and use the following access code: 810329#. If you have questions, please direct them to Natalie Sampson (nsampson@umich).

Very best,

American Public Health Association’s
Trade & Health Forum Leaders

Maternal Health Taskforce Open Forum

This announcement may be of particular interest to those of you interested in reproductive and/or maternal health.

Women Deliver has been running a series of blog posts addressing the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. A number of experts have offered thoughts on a global framework for health after the MDGs. Now is your chance to add to the discussion as Women Deliver is hosting an online discussion starting next week to address reproductive and maternal health:

With the deadlines for the Millennium Development Goals and the International Conference on Population and Development’s Program of Action fast approaching, Women Deliver is calling on the entire reproductive and maternal health community—from policymakers to health workers to advocates—to participate in an online discussion to shape the future of our field. Join this critical global conversation at www.knowledge-gateway.org/womendeliver and weigh in on where we are, where we need to be, and how we need to get there.
 
This means taking stock of lessons learned, challenges ahead, and tackling the critical question: What will—and what must—happen to the MDGs and ICPD after 2015? Through a series of weekly, e-mail-based discussions, you will have the chance to share your thoughts, experience, and views on specific questions, like the effectiveness of global versus regional MDG targets, the role of civil society in shaping development goals, and the appropriate maternal and reproductive health indicator of tomorrow.

The forum will be open from November 7th to November 23rd, so be sure to make your voice heard!

Global Health News Last Week

October 10 was World Mental Health Day.
October 15 was Global Handwashing Day.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • The U.S. Army has proposed major cuts to its work on HIV, especially in the vaccine field. Leaders of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and other biomedical research organizations oppose the cuts.
  • The WHO plans to recommend tighter nutritional standards in food aid for young children, a move activists say is necessary to improve donations from countries such as the United States.
  • The US Department of Defense is funding platforms that will completely rethink how malaria drugs are developed.
  • Former Bush Administration official Andrew Natsios argues the case for foreign aid: “Singling out foreign aid for disproportionate cuts—which is exactly what has happened—is a serious mistake the United States as a world leader will pay for in the future.”
  • A survey of 507 Americans at the end of September sought to capture what, exactly, Americans know about the foreign aid budget. Particpiants were asked four questions about their impressions of foreign aid and opinions on why it is important to American interests.  Go here to read the full fact sheet that also includes more details about the study’s methods and see below to review the results in more detail.
  • The World Health Organization’s chief on Monday urged governments to unite against “big tobacco”, as she accused the industry of dirty tricks, bullying and immorality in its quest to keep people smoking.

PROGRAMS

  • Berk Ozler examines some recent reports about the challenges surrounding male circumcision. In the World Bank Development Impact blog, he offers two suggestions for how to improve the programs.
  • A partnership between Pampers and UNICEF to deliver neonatal tetanus vaccines is on track to eliminate the disease by 2015.
  • A $258 million initiative sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at preventing AIDS in India appears to have paid off overall, researchers say, resulting in more than 100,000 fewer new HIV infections over five years. Many aren’t quite ready to judge this project, Avahan, a success, however. The project failed in three of the six Indian states where it was tested.
  • Are the Millennium Villages an intervention that can reach scale? Supporters say yes and detractors are skeptical. Madeline Bunting covers the debate in the Guardian Development.
  • A report on the MGDS by United Nations Development Program, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and the African Union Commission says that social protection programs can have a wide positive impact.

RESEARCH

DISEASES AND DISASTERS