Child health

World Health Organization: Building a Healthier Future for Tomorrow

This post originally appeared on the Better World Campaign website, and was written by Kelli Meyer. The Better World Campaign (BWC) works to foster a strong, effective relationship between the United States and the United Nations to promote core American interests and build a more secure, prosperous, and healthy world. They are a 2018 Global Health Council member.

The United Nations system is comprised of the UN, which is headquartered in New York, and more than 30 affiliated organizations—known as programs, funds, and specialized agencies—with their own membership, leadership, and budget processes.In our “Meet the (UN) Family” series, we’re taking a look at the UN entities that might not always make the headlines but play an integral part of the UN’s mission to promote global peace and prosperity.

Up next: the World Health Organization.

As the global guardian of public health, the primary goal of the World Health Organization (WHO) is to build a better, healthier future for people all over the world. But don’t let the word “World” in the name fool you—WHO makes an enormous impact in the U.S., too.

So what is it that WHO does that is so important to Americans? Let us explain.

WHO helps orchestrate international collaboration and develop solutions to confront global health risks, which help to protect and advance U.S. interests at home and abroad.

For example, after the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, a partnership was formed under the Global Health Security Agenda with participation from governments in the region, WHO and other UN agencies, plus the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other U.S. agencies.

This innovative partnership played a key role in stopping an outbreak of the disease from reaching the same devastation in 2016. It also helped rebuild fragile health systems decimated by Ebola, and spearheaded vaccination campaigns to protect kids who missed out on basic vaccines during these Ebola outbreaks. And with the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), WHO is on the frontlines of the response, facilitating the delivery of the new Ebola vaccine.

While this work might seem (literally) thousands of miles away from our shores, it protects Americans because it strengthens a country’s ability to stop to disease threats at their source, before they can spread regionally and globally. This in turn saves lives abroad, protects U.S. troops stationed far from home, and promotes economic and political stability in those areas.

WHO’s leadership has also driven forward global partnerships that impact our lives closer to home. The organization is a founding member of the Measles &Rubella Initiative (M&RI), which is helping protect Americans from a highly infectious disease that still causes outbreaks here in the U.S. Globally between 2000 and 2016, M&RI has driven an 84% reduction in measles deaths, saving 20.4 million lives.

WHO is also a founding member of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), founded in 1988. At its peak in the 1950s, polio caused over 15,000 cases of paralysis in the United States alone. Since 1988, GPEI and WHO have reduced global polio cases by 99.9%, from 350,000 cases to just 22 in 2017. These investments in polio eradication have in turn strengthened country health systems to better identify and respond to other disease threats before they become global risks.

Another area where WHO’s expertise comes into play is addressing environmental and public health issues, such as air quality, water and sanitation. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works with WHO to support reductions in air pollution generated in developing countries, which has the potential to travel across borders. Collaborations such as these means that U.S. agencies like the EPA can rely on the extensive networks and technical expertise of WHO to safeguard the health and security of Americans at home and abroad.

As we said earlier, don’t let the word “World” fool you; WHO works to make sure all people of all ages, no matter where they were born, can live healthy lives. Their work keeps us safe, healthy and protected from health threats here at home, and equips our public health officials with the tools, resources and partnerships they need to solve issues on U.S. soil.

To learn more about WHO, click here.

30 Years Later, and Still Fighting HIV/AIDS in Children

This article originally appeared on the Hill on June 12 and was co-written by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FLA.), Co-Chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, and Charles Lyons, President & CEO of Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. EGPAF is on a mission to end pediatric HIV/AIDS through groundbreaking research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs. They are a 2018 Global Health Council member.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

Each of us—one a federal policymaker, the other a veteran of children’s health advocacy—sees the past 30 years as marked by loss and struggle. AIDS has claimed millions of lives and left scores of children mourning the loss of their parents.

Yet the past three decades are also an era redeemed by progress. In the late 1980s, neither of us could have imagined that the global AIDS response would be where it is today. It seemed impossible that HIV could become a chronic condition rather than a death sentence; that prevention strategies would ever be as precise and sophisticated as they are now; or that a mother being treated for the virus could be close to certain that she’d give birth to a healthy, HIV-free baby.

Yesterday, leaders from both sides of the aisle came together on Capitol Hill to recognize a woman pivotal to that progress. Elizabeth Glaser—who unknowingly transmitted HIV to both of her children after being infected through a blood transfusion in 1981—founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) in 1988. Over the next six years, she lobbied tirelessly to ensure that her government prioritized HIV research and the development of lifesaving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for children. The stakes could not have been higher for her family: having lost her daughter to AIDS, she was determined to save the life of her son.

Elizabeth was, by her own admission, a thorn in the side of legislators and federal agencies. She had to be. “They hate it when I come [to Washington],” she famously quipped in 1992, “because I try to tell them how to do it better.” But ultimately, her zeal and tenacity paid off. Her message resonated with legislators—among them, a freshman from South Florida who was elected to Congress just when Elizabeth’s visits to Washington began in earnest. Though Elizabeth did not live long enough to see the full impact of her advocacy and message reflected in federal policy, her impact was profound.

Progress has followed in the wake of Elizabeth’s early successes. Since 2000, transmission of HIV from mother to child has plummeted by 70 percent worldwide. This reduction was due in large part to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief—the development of which was a defining legislative accomplishment for one of these authors. Today, the program supports 14 million people on ARVs and has enabled more than 2.2 million babies to be born HIV-free. And at both state and federal levels, the far-reaching impact of the Ryan White Care Act is felt every day, and there is momentum behind legislation such as the REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act and its iterations, which seek to dismantle widespread stigma and bolster the civil rights of people living with HIV.

Elizabeth and so many others fought tooth and nail for those gains, blazing a trail that each of us has tried to follow and expand. Yet progress for children in the global AIDS response is tenuous. Although the number of new cases in children has dropped, those who are infected face grim odds: only 43 percent of the 2.1 million children living with HIV have access to the medication they need to survive, and up to two-thirds of those under age 2 are diagnosed late—after their weakened immune systems have been left exceptionally vulnerable to infections like tuberculosis.

Elizabeth viewed her participation in the political process as “a matter of life and death.” We must reproduce that urgency, that hunger for justice, that drove the first thirty years of this struggle. EGPAF’s thirtieth anniversary is an opportunity to applaud the strides we’ve taken, but it would be an affront to Elizabeth Glaser’s legacy if we were to view this occasion as anything less than a recommitment to the fight.

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESNTATIVES INTRODUCES LEGISLATION AIMED TO SAVE LIVES OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD

Washington, DC (October 13, 2017) – On October 10, Global Health Council (GHC) applauded U.S. Representatives David Reichert (R-WA), Betty McCollum (D-MN),Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Daniel Donovan (R-NY), who reintroduced the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (H.R. 4022) in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation aims to accelerate the reduction of preventable child, newborn, and maternal deaths, putting us within reach of the global commitment to end these deaths within a generation.

“We are in reach of ending preventable maternal and child deaths—a great accomplishment in part due to U.S. leadership and investments in maternal and child health programs. Although we have drastically reduced the number of maternal, newborn, and child deaths, every day, 800 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth and more than 16,000 children still die from preventable causes,” said Loyce Pace, GHC President and Executive Director. “The Reach Every Mother and Child Act is an important step to ensure that we end these preventable deaths within a generation.”

The Reach Act builds upon the success of such global health initiatives as PEPFAR and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and would enact key reforms that increase the effectiveness and impact of USAID maternal and child survival programs. The U.S. Senate reintroduced the Reach Act in August.

Specifically, the legislation would require a coordinated U.S. government strategy that addresses ending preventable child and maternal deaths, as well as institute reporting requirements to improve efficiency, transparency, accountability, and oversight of maternal and child health programs. In addition, it would establish the position of Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator at USAID and ensure that the return on U.S. investments are maximized through a scale-up of the highest impact, evident-based interventions. The legislation would also allow USAID to explore innovative financing tools.

The Reach Act is supported by more than 50 diverse non-profit and faith-based organizations working to end preventable maternal, newborn, and child mortality at home and abroad.

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About Global Health Council

Established in 1972, Global Health Council (GHC) is the leading membership organization supporting and connecting advocates, implementers, and stakeholders around global health priorities worldwide. GHC represents the collaborative voice of the community on key issues; we convene stakeholders around key priorities and actively engage with decision makers to influence global health policy. Learn more at www.globalhealth.org. Follow GHC on Twitter or “Like” us on Facebook for more information.

Media Contact

Elizabeth Kohlway
Communications & Member Engagement Manager
Global Health Council
(703) 717-5251

NCD Child’s Approach to Advocacy: Putting Children First

This guest post was written by, Jonathan D Klein, MD, MPH, FAAP, Executive Director, NCD Childa a global multi-stakeholder coalition championing the rights and needs of children, adolescents, and young people living with or at risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCD Child is a member of the Global Health Council.

NCD Child is a global multi-stakeholder coalition championing the rights and needs of children, adolescents, and young people living with or at risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs).  Their message to civil society, governments, and WHO is unwavering – children are not small adults.  They require unique services, yet many national and global health policies fail to adequately account for these distinctive needs.  NCD Child actively engages and collaborates with governments, multilateral organizations (ie, WHO, UNICEF, other UN agencies), civil society, the private sector, and academic institutions to promote awareness, education, prevention, and treatment of NCDs in children, adolescents, and young people.  They support child health advocacy and policy at the global level via WHO and the UN as well as at the country-level through civil society and individual champions.  They are committed to involving youth voices across all their work, from engagement in the NCD and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agendas to their own governance and program activities.

Young people’s access to essential medicines and technologies for special health care needs are a particularly alarming and growing concern.  To tackle this challenge, NCD Child launched a Taskforce on Essential Medicines and Technologies during the 2017 World Health Assembly.  Whether it is insulin, an asthma inhaler, chemotherapy, heart surgery, or simple antibiotics, poor access or lack of availability to safe and appropriate medicines and technologies for children, adolescents, and young people hinders their chances of living healthy, productive and long lives.  There are several challenges to consistent, safe access to essential medicines and technologies – drug shortages, appropriate dosages for children, challenges in drug delivery, technology incompatible with systems, and products excluded from the WHO Essential Medicines for children lists.  The new taskforce, chaired by Dr. Kate Armstrong, Executive Director of CLAN (Caring & Living as Neighbors) and founding Executive Director of NCD Child, includes a diverse group of experts from government, academia, and civil society.  Kate’s vision that all children living with chronic health conditions should be afforded the same opportunities and quality of life as other children, helped NCD Child frame their mission and goals towards a rights-based approach to universal access and population health.  For the taskforce, this means addressing consistent, equitable, and affordable access to essential medicines and equipment for all children, adolescents, and young people living with NCDs – including attention to the rights and needs of all young people with special health care needs.  The initial report, scheduled for 2018, will discuss common barriers to access and propose collaborative, practical strategies to address the gaps.

Practically, this means NCD Child wants policies ensuring that the health needs of young people are always included in health systems planning and accountability.  They recognize to affect policy, governments and other advocates need to fully appreciate why it is important to include children, adolescents, and young people.  How do current policies and frameworks exclude them?  What is the potential impact of not tailoring policies, health education, and health systems?  How many lives can be saved, improved, and extended if policies addressed the needs of all ages across the entire life-course?  The taskforce will serve to amplify NCD Child’s concerns by developing resources to educate governments, help guide policy development, and contribute to the WHO Essential Medicines list.

Prevention and treatment of NCDs helps children, adolescents, and young people live life to their fullest potential. These investments are also critical to successfully addressing preventable maternal and child deaths, and to effective, sustainable development.  At the July High Level Political Forum on SDGs, Dr Nata Menabde, Executive Director of WHO at the United Nations, closed the review of the health goal by noting that “every minister should be a health minister.”  When it comes to health in all policies, “put children first” is essential to all plans, whether for health systems, NCDs, or other global goals.

For more information and to sign up for the NCD Child listserv, visit www.ncdchild.org.

 

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.