Author: Elizabeth Kohlway

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Seeking Today’s Midwifery Pioneers for Johnson & Johnson’s GenH Challenge 

This post was written by Alice Lin Fabiano, Johnson & Johnson Global Community Impact.

A good idea can come from anyone, anywhere.

Looking at the history of midwifery, we see that good ideas often come from people providing care every day in communities and clinics around the world. The ways in which midwives have pioneered a new idea or adapted an approach – and augmented health and wellness as a result – cannot be overlooked.

It was Marie-Anne Boivin, a French midwife, who invented the speculum used to assist childbirth. She also wrote multiple textbooks that became standard for midwifery students, and is cited as the first person to use a stethoscope to listen to the fetal heartbeat. And Mary Breckinridge, a nurse-midwife in the rural United States, saw the need for training and increased standards of care, and acted to create the Frontier Nursing Service. FNS went on to train hundreds of midwives and strengthened the concept and practice of nurse-midwifery in the United States.

These midwifery pioneers saw a need, and based on their intimate knowledge of both community and care, they acted and created something new to meet local health needs. They innovated.

We know that today, more and more women and infants are getting the care they need to survive and thrive. Still, every day, 800 women and nearly 8,000 newborns die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. There is much more that can – and must – happen to support and champion midwives as they save even more lives.

The question is: what will it take to get there?

At Johnson & Johnson, we know the ingenuity required to change the trajectory of health for communities will not come from the boardroom; it will come from the delivery room, the classroom, the clinic, or even a household. To change the realities of health, the world needs the insight, leadership, and creativity of everyday innovators on the front lines of care. In short, the world needs midwives.

Today at ICM, Johnson & Johnson is proud to open the GenH Challenge – a global social venture competition designed to seek out and incentivize novel, breakthrough solutions to persistent health challenges. As of today, the submission period is open – and we need the partnership of many great minds and hearts at ICM to make this happen. We’re calling on midwives, as front line changemakers, to share locally-tailored, globally- scalable ideas as together we seek to create the healthiest generation – “GenH.”

Executive Director Alice Lin Fabiano demonstrates mMitra, a mobile health innovation platform developed in partnership with ARMMAN, USAID, Johnson & Johnson, United Nations Foundation & BabyCenter.

Midwives played an integral role in the development of the GenH Challenge. Last year, I met with 20 midwives in Nairobi to discuss the challenges and opportunities they experienced while delivering care in their communities. We heard stories of the difficulties midwives working in low-resource settings experience. We also heard great stories of triumph and perseverance.  Stories about delivering quality care against all odds, and efforts to inspire young women to pursue midwifery. Midwives told us about their desire to not only be heard, but to be empowered to implement change.

We’ve listened to you, and we are excited to help provide the spark of investment you need to advance that vision of change. The GenH Challenge requires that all teams submitting ideas include a representative from the front lines of care. This specific prerequisite is because we fundamentally believe no sustainable change will be reached without the insight and knowledge individuals like midwives provide.

Quite simply, you are why the GenH Challenge is placing its big bet on the power that lives on the front lines of care.

In our 130 years, we’ve learned that the next big idea can come from anyone. The GenH Challenge builds on a legacy of innovating and developing solutions for people on the front lines of care. With $1 million in prizes, winning teams will receive not only financial resources, but technical assistance from Johnson & Johnson to ensure that you, the changemakers, are able to turn ideas and vision into reality. We invite our fellow pioneers of ingenuity to apply their entrepreneurial spirit as the lever to achieve health equity.

So what’s your answer to our question? Tell us.

Advocacy Update – June 19, 2017

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager, Global Health Council.

FY18 Hearings and USAID Administrator Nomination Hearing Part of Busy Week on Capitol Hill

Last week was a busy one on Capitol Hill. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified at four separate hearings on the proposed FY18 budget for the State Department (including USAID’s budget). He appeared before the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in the House and Senate, as well as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). Secretary Price testified before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee to answer questions on the proposed budget for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Later in the week, Mark Green appeared before SFRC regarding his nomination to serve as Administrator of USAID.

Finally, the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations subcommittee of HFAC marked up the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act (H.R.1415).

Tillerson Testifies on FY18 Budget for State and USAID

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson faced four different committees (State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in the House and Senate, as well as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC)) last week to answer question on the administration’s proposed FY18 budget for the Department of State and USAID.

Republicans and Democrats alike lambasted the proposed cuts, of up to a third, to the foreign affairs budget. Citing multiple humanitarian crises, ISIS, and global health concerns, Chairman Lindsay Graham (R-SC) pointed out that these cuts would put lives at risk. Secretary Tillerson defended the cuts by stating that “Our budget will never determine our ability to be effective. Our people will.” He also stressed the need for other countries to do more.

Since the hearings focused on the entire budget for State and USAID, global health was only a small part of the hearings. Members raised questions about cuts to PEPFAR, maternal and child health programs, as well as the zeroing out of family planning funding. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) both raised questions about the expansion of the Mexico City Policy to cover all global health funding and the impact the expansion would have. Tillerson stated that the expansion would be minimal and that the State Department would assess in six months.

Price Testifies on FY18 Budget for Department of Health and Human Services

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services on Thursday to answer questions about the FY18 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes funding for NIH and CDC. While much of the focus was on Republican-led legislation to replace Obamacare, several Senators did voice opposition to cuts to NIH and CDC and expressed support for the two agencies.

Green Nomination to Lead USAID Advances to Full Senate for Vote

Last Thursday, the Honorable Mark Green testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination to serve as Administrator of USAID. Green is a former Ambassador to Tanzania and a former Congressman representing Wisconsin.

With the Trump administration recommending cuts of up to one-third for the foreign affairs budget, questions regarding the President’s proposed FY18 budget were a critical part of the hearing. Green stated that the organizing principle of foreign assistance should be on ending its need to exist, he assured the Committee that “USAID will not walk away from our commitment to humanitarian assistance, and we will always stand with people everywhere when disaster strikes.”

Senators also raised questions regarding the possible restructuring of USAID and the State Department, including the possibility that the two could be merged. When asked about restructuring, Green responded, “I believe that the State Department and USAID need to be closely aligned, but I believe they have different cultures.”

Green’s nomination was passed by the Committee and now advances to the full Senate.  

NTDs Bill Marked Up

Late last week the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee marked up the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act (H.R.1415). Introduced by Congressmen Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY), the legislation would implement R&D and implementation activities to end neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Overall the Committee was supportive of the bill, recognizing that diseases no know borders, and passed the legislation without amendment. The bill now advances to the full Committee for consideration. Since Title II falls under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the bill will also need to be considered and passed by that Committee.

CDC Protects People from Disease Threats and Outbreaks in the U.S. and Around the World

This blog post was written by Carmen Villar, MPH, Deputy Director for Strategy, Policy and Communication, at the the Center for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Opinion polls show that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the federal government’s most admired and trusted agencies.

Since its founding in 1946, CDC’s history as America’s premier public health agency has been tightly intertwined with its work abroad. CDC experts were on the frontlines in the efforts to eradicate smallpox, the only disease in history to be eliminated. Now CDC experts are actively engaged in current efforts to eradicate polio, a disease that once ravaged the United States and countries worldwide. Today wild polio virus remains active in only three countries: Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan, and only five cases of wild polio virus have been reported this year, which is a record low number. These encouraging results reflect a novel partnership, the Global Polio Elimination Initiative (GPEI),that holds promise for future efforts to protect people’s health.

GPEI is a public-private partnership led by national governments with five partners – the World Health Organization, Rotary International, U.S. CDC, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – who have locked arms to defeat polio. CDC’s record and commitment to global health is also evidenced in its work combatting HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, neglected tropical diseases such as River Blindness, and its more recent, and widely reported, efforts to defeat Ebola in West Africa and Zika in numerous countries.

CDC has more than 1,700 staff stationed in more than 60 countries, including scientists, disease detectives, laboratory technicians, and other experts who are on the frontlines working to detect disease outbreaks at the earliest possible moment, to respond to them decisively, and to stop them from spreading. That mission is driven by the same principles CDC uses wherever it works – rigorous science, accurate data, quality training, and strong collaboration with partners.

Yet when it all works as designed, as it often does, the results can be hard to see. The best outcomes are an absence of disease outbreaks and the accompanying fear about their impact, an abundance of healthy people who contribute to U.S. interests by supporting more stable governments and more robust economies, and a lower chance of disease erupting and spreading.

CDC’s values and guiding principles are the same as they’ve been from the beginning – working to protect Americans by rapidly detecting and containing new health threats anywhere in the world before they can come to the United States. The focus is on providing strong, effective public health systems and on training healthcare professionals who can identify outbreaks in their own countries to prevent those threats from crossing borders.

For example, CDC’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), established in 1980, has trained more than 9,000 disease detectives to date in more than 70 countries. They provide critical frontline disease detection and surveillance, and, significantly, more than 80 percent of the FETP graduates continue working in their countries, with many moving into public health leadership positions. From 2009–2014, FETP graduates took part in more than 2,000 outbreak investigations, which kept their countries, and the world, safer and healthier.

It works with countries to immunize children and adults to protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases. Preventing diseases such as polio and measles allow children and adults to live healthy and productive lives. It means laboratorians from CDC’s world class laboratories work together to provide training and technical expertise to laboratorians in other countries to upgrade and expand laboratory services. This results in accurate and reliable laboratory networks, which are essential to finding and understanding disease threats, and in using resources for maximum public health benefit.

CDC’s dedication to global health can be measured by outbreak response mobilizations, staff trained and ready for deployment, person-days of response support, ensuring that all people have access to safe water and sanitation around the world, and collaboration with global partners.

An example is CDC’s participation in the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). Formed in 2014 with key contributions by CDC, GHSA is designed to implement the tools and practices necessary to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks at the earliest possible moment in countries throughout the world. To date, 31 countries are participating, with each pledging to meet universal standards for quality disease surveillance, a well-trained workforce, rapid and accurate public health laboratory capacity, and emergency response via emergency operation centers.

Another example is CDC’s Global Rapid Response Team (GRRT), a “boots-on-the-ground” program ensuring that, from a pool of 400 trained experts, 50 are on-call to travel anywhere in the world within 48 hours to confront an outbreak at its outset. The GRRT was mobilized more than 230 times in one year after it was created in 2016, and provided 8,000 person-days of response support in more than 90 outbreaks worldwide, including cholera, yellow fever, Ebola, Zika, measles, polio, and natural disasters. The GRRT also has experts in global health logistics, laboratory management and training, communication, and disease detection.With the world more connected than ever through travel and commerce, GHSA is a systematic effort to provide universal and tested standards to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks worldwide and to close gaps in these areas that allow disease to cross borders.

Taken together, all of CDC’s work abroad contributes to making the world and all Americans safer and more secure, healthier and more confident that threats to their health will be identified and resolved no matter where they live and travel.

Follow CDC Global on Twitter @CDCGlobal

Advocacy Update ~ June 5, 2017

By Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager, Global Health Council

Trump Releases FY18 Budget
On May 23, President Trump released his recommended budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. As expected, he drastically cut nondefense discretionary funding while increasing spending on defense and border security.

Standard Provisions Released for Mexico City Policy
In mid-May, USAID released the standard provisions for the expanded Mexico City Policy. Renamed the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” the expansion of this policy requires that all foreign NGOs certify that they do not provide abortion services, counsel or refer for abortion, or advocate for abortion law reform, even if using non-U.S. funds, in order to be eligible for U.S. bilateral global health assistance from any funding account or for any purpose. Very few exemptions were made: water and sewer infrastructure, Food for Peace, and American Schools and Hospitals abroad. Read PAI’s analysis. From the Kaiser Family Foundation: What is the Scope of the Mexico City Policy: Assessing Abortion Laws in Countries that Receive U.S. Global Health Assistance.

GHC will host a community meeting to discuss the standard provisions on June 6. Email for more information.

Frontline Health Workers Resolution Introduced
In May, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) introduced a resolution acknowledging the contributions of frontline health workers to global health (H.Res.342). The resolution recognizes the role that frontline health workers have in advancing U.S. national security and global health goals.

Global Health Council’s Collective Voice Converges in Geneva for WHA70

Last week the Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA70) concluded in Geneva, Switzerland. It was a whirlwind WHA with a WHO Director-General election, and several agenda items – from Health Systems to Communicable Diseases – addressed.

Global Health Council (GHC) sent a robust delegation of 70 members to WHA70, representing multiple health priorities. Many of GHC’s WHA delegates took part in daily huddles, read statements to the Assembly, and partnered on side-events. Although the delegation’s voices were diverse, they were united in celebrating the power of civil society.

Check out the highlights from the blogs of GHC’s WHA delegates and advocates below or peruse through GHC’s WHA70 Storify.

Heroines of Health: Celebrating Women in Global Health
by Women in Global Health

Global Health Security: Why Women Matter
Katherine C. Bond, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)

Attacks on Healthcare, Where do We Stand One Year After the Adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2286?
by Len Rubenstein, 
Johns Hopkins Blomberg School of Public Health and Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition

The Power and Promise of Digital Health for Africa
by Lesley-Anne Long

Chronic Childhood Disease: A Personal, Local, and Global Struggle
by Elizabeth Montgomery Collins
, Individual GHC Member

Health in All Policies
by Terry L Schmidt DrHA MBA (MPH)
, Individual GHC Member

Why Investments in Frontline Health Workers Matter: Preventing Needless Deaths through Trusted Healthcare Relationships
by Samalie Kitooleko, Uganda Rheumatic Heart Disease Registry and Belinda Ngongo, Public Health Institute