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GHC NEWS FLASH: GLOBAL HEALTH ROUNDUP 7/10/2017

Join GHC at the Global Health Security Roundtable and Faith and Global Health Caucus
GHC is relaunching its Global Health Security Roundtable, which will be meeting today, July 10, at 3 pm EDT in Washington, DC. Read more about the Roundtable and learn how to join the listserv.

A small group of members is relaunching the Faith and Global Health Caucus. Open to all faiths, the Caucus will meet quarterly to share best practices and provide a fellowship-centered space. The first meeting is onJuly 17 at 5 pm EDT in Washington, DC. Learn more and RSVP.


Powerful Discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals
On July 17, Global Compact Network USA will host an event on the role of the private sector in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2017 Symposium will bring together companies, nonprofits, and United Nations entities to explore practical actions that we can all take to advance the SDGs. The event will take place at Pfizer Headquarters in New York City, on the heels of the High-Level Political Forum on SDGs (HLPF 2017). View registration details for this event and visit GHC’s special events calendar for more information on health-related side-events at HLPF 2017.


Reducing Global Inequities in Maternal and Child Health
A recent study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reveals that the number of lives saved by investing in the most deprived populations is almost twice as high as the number saved by equivalent investment in less deprived groups. Study findings show that increased access to key interventions reduced under-five mortality in 51 countries that are collectively home to 400 million children under age five. The report analyzes six critical indicators: antenatal care visits, skilled birth attendants, early initiation of breastfeeding, malaria prevention, full immunization, and care-seeking for sick children. View the report and interactive data site.


Global Development Alliance Annual Program Statement Deadline Extended
The Global Development Alliance (GDA) Annual Program Statement (APS) deadline has been extended until February 23, 2018. The GDA APS is USAID’s open invitation to the private sector to co-create and implement transformational partnerships to tackle both business and global development challenges that have a sustainable development impact. Through leveraging expertise, resources, and capabilities from various stakeholders, GDA APS addresses critical business and development challenges using market-based approaches. Learn more.

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We cannot afford to leave women out

This guest post was written by Catharine Taylor, Vice President, Health Programs Group, Management Sciences for Health.

Photo: Women in Malawi are increasingly engaging in sustainable ways to grow household income and end poverty. Credit: Feed the Children / Amos Gumulira

The evidence is clear: to achieve progress in the world, now is the time to prioritize and invest in women and girls. As key drivers of sustainable development, when women are empowered to fully participate in society, everyone benefits. We know, for instance, that women spend more of their income on their families than men do – prioritizing healthcare, nutrition, and education, setting up families and communities for more prosperous futures. We also know that when women are empowered to care for themselves and their children’s health from pregnancy through childhood and adolescence, families and communities grow stronger and more productive.

As I prepare to join the Commission on the Status of Women next week, where the focus will be on women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, I am reminded of a visit to Malawi last month. For many years, women in the country’s remote villages had no access to health care during pregnancy and childbirth, which meant no information on how to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy for themselves and their baby, and no care if and when complications arose, almost certainly resulting in death. But now, more than 90 percent of all women in Malawi go to a health care facility to deliver their children, up from only 53 percent in 2000. The investments in midwifery education and an expanding system to make healthcare free for the poorest have greatly contributed to better quality of care and improved health outcomes. Women’s participation in Village Savings and Loans associations, agribusiness groups, and livestock activities has increased markedly in the past few years, securing women‘s access to household income and greater engagement in non-traditional roles.

The power of investing in women is paying off.

Today, there’s a new generation of young Malawian women who are finding that family planning tools are helping them take charge of their futures. And there are more and more women confronting barriers to education and adding their voice in the workforce or in political spheres. By focusing on women and children, the country has also made incredible progress in addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic, reducing the number of new HIV infections per year by more than half in just over ten years.

Under the new sustainable development agenda, countries and development actors from across the spectrum have an opportunity to work together to help communities ensure that women and girls have access to a comprehensive range of services promoting their right to health. On International Women’s Day, we at Management Sciences for Health mark the achievements of women and call for continued recognition that investments in global development programs yield a return that improves our security, prosperity, and advances the values of our nation. By helping women drive development to advance their health and well-being and that of their families, their communities, and societies, we will build lasting change that benefits all.


Catharine Taylor is the Vice President of the Health Programs Group at Management Sciences for Health – a leading organization dedicated to building stronger health systems for greater health impact. Catharine is an internationally recognized expert in maternal, newborn, and child health policies and programs, a champion for women’s health and rights, and an advocate for universal, equitable access to high-quality care. Follow Catharine on twitter @CTaylor_MSHVeep.

 

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Yes We Can! Celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science

This guest post was written by Tamika Sims, Director of Communications, International Food Information Council Foundation and originally appeared on the organization’s website.

I am woman, hear me roar … about science!

If you haven’t heard, women are pioneers in the world of science. To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we wanted to shine a light on some women we see continuing this great legacy, enhancing our scientific world, and positively influencing humanity, as well as the world of agriculture.

Haven’t heard of International Day of Women and Girls in Science? Well, here are some background details: The declaration of Feb. 11 as International Day of Women and Girls in Science by the United Nations (UN) marks a much-needed acknowledgment of the disproportionate number of young girls and women not receiving the same educational and scientific career opportunities around the globe as their male counterparts. Gender equality and science are among the top priorities of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development established by the United Nations. The UN firmly believes that both gender equality and science contribute immeasurably to the creation of a sustainable world.

Young women all over the globe are ready to be the world’s next great scientist. Loving science and biology as a young girl isn’t weird. Yes, I wear a dress under my lab coat … and no, I am not odd.

Just ask Professor Neena Mitter, PhD, an agricultural biotechnologist at the University of Queensland in Australia. Dr. Mitter and her research team recently published a paper on their discovery of “BioClay,” which is a non-pesticide topical treatment for plants to encourage protection against viral infections. This can reduce the need for the use of pesticides and is noted to be safe for the environment due to its quick degradation.

In a recent interview with MyScience.org, Dr. Mitter noted, “The use of BioClay offers sustainable crop protection and residue-free produce – which consumers demand. …The cleaner approach will value-add to the food and agri-business industry, contributing to global food security and to a cleaner, greener image of Queensland.”

For Dr. Mitter, the drive to be an agricultural biotechnologist came from wanting to learn how agricultural research could combat hunger and poverty in India.

“I [soon] realized that science could play a key and vital role in addressing the issues facing the farming community,” Dr. Mitter said. “The roots are grounded in my Indian heritage, which recognizes the significance of agriculture in shaping the world, economically, socially, environmentally, and politically.”

Dr. Mitter also hopes that she can inspire other young girls and women to be scientists.

“I am passionate to develop the next generation of young scientists as foundations for the future,” Mitter said.  “I encourage them to deliver excellence through an innovative mindset, global opportunities, and industry connections. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them’ (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and first female elected head of state in Africa as president of Liberia in 2005).”

We also caught up with Stacey Kigar, PhD, president of the executive board of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS). GWIS is a national organization founded nearly 100 years ago that supports science education and scientific careers for women by providing endowments, fellowships, professional development, and networking opportunities for their members. GWIS also does a substantial amount of mentoring, outreach, and leadership development.

When asked about her thoughts on inspiring and supporting others to be a scientist, Dr. Kigar reflects on her college days.

“Larry Summers [then Harvard president] gave an infamous speech suggesting that women are perhaps less capable with respect to math and science,” said Dr. Kigar. “The university Women in Science group quickly organized a panel to push back against this idea, managing to secure several women faculty members, the Provost, and several deans from science departments as speakers. In today’s parlance, I suppose this would be when I ‘got woke’ to the nuanced issues women face which can stymie their careers—e.g., taking on the primary role of caregiver for young children in the absence of university-provided daycare.”

GWIS has also set its sights on supporting women and young girls internationally who face roadblocks in pursuing education.

“We (GWIS) have submitted grants to ensure girls are given desks in rural Nigerian schools; we would also like to obtain funds to purchase journal access for university researchers in South America,” Dr. Kigar said.

We certainly salute the efforts to further scientific research and support of women in science, of Dr. Mitter and her research team, and Dr. Kigar and the GWIS team. I can remember being a young scientist in graduate school and appreciating the support of my family and friends, and being grateful for having strong women scientists to look up to.

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GHC News Flash: Global Health Roundup 1/23/2017

New Coalition for Epidemics Preparedness Innovations
The celebrated news of an effective Ebola vaccine came a little too late for the 11,000 people who succumbed to the Ebola virus between 2014 to 2016. The epidemic that overwhelmed local and international capacity to contain it, has helped fuel an important debate on global health security and has sparked a number of proposed actions to help curb the inefficiencies in dealing with emerging disease threats at both national and global levels. The latest in efforts to amp up future preparedness against potential outbreaks is the launch of the Coalition for Epidemics Preparedness Innovations. The initiative, which aims to pre-emptively develop and stock-pile vaccines against the deadliest disease threats, was launched last week at the World Economic Forum. The coalition is being backed by investments from the Wellcome Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the governments of Norway, Germany, and Japan. Read more.


Five Years of Fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases
In 2012, world leaders signed a commitment known as the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that spurred unprecedented action towards reducing the burden of poverty-related NTDs. Through drug donations from pharmaceutical companies, increased funding of programs, and a greater commitment to developing new tools and treatments, the global community has seen a lot of recent progress in defeating NTDs. To mark the five-year anniversary of the London Declaration, NTDs partners worldwide will run a five-day social media campaign, beginning January 30, to highlight some of the major successes that have been achieved. NTDs affect over one billion people around the world, and disproportionately impacting those in some of the world’s poorest countries. Get involved in the upcoming campaign.


New Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data
Last week, the inaugural United Nation’s Data Forum took place in Cape Town, South Africa. The event saw the launch of a new global plan for better data to improve people’s lives as set out in the targets of the 2030 Agenda. The plan calls for a commitment by governments, policy leaders, and the international community to undertake key actions in six strategic areas, including: innovation and modernization of national statistical systems; dissemination of data on sustainable development; building partnerships; and mobilizing resources. Read the press release and view highlights from the event.


Stand with APHA Against Climate Change
GHC Member the American Public Health Association (APHA) is taking a critical step in creating the healthiest nation by declaring 2017 the Year of Climate Change and Health. Throughout 2017, APHA will engage in a series of activities to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on health and build a sense of urgency for action. This will include hosting monthly events and themes; circulating surveys and fact sheets; conducting new research and public outreach; and offering advocacy opportunities. Visit the APHA website to get involved and access resources.


TechChange Offers Flagship mHealth Course Online
Are you trying to figure out the best way to add mobile phones to a new health project? Thinking about a career switch in 2017? Looking to build skills in an exciting field? In need of new inspiration for an existing project? TechChange is offering a once-a-year flagship mHealth online certificate course from February 6 to March 3. This four-week online certificate course will feature live interactive guest expert presentations with leading M&E practitioners, software developers, and data scientists from the Red Cross, CommCare, mSurvey, and Tula Foundation, among others. It will also include a unique hands-on learning environment with animated videos, technology demos, practical activities, networking events, immersive simulations, and more. Learn more about the course. Use coupon code TFGH17 and get $50 off of the listed price.

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Health For All: What’s Next for a Movement Hitting its Stride?

This blog was written by Michael Myers, Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation and originally appeared on the organization’s website.

uhc-day

If the events of 2016 have taught us anything, it’s that we cannot know for sure what tomorrow will bring. But change has a way of illuminating those things about which we are certain. As a new year dawns, my conviction that every country can and must accelerate progress toward universal health coverage has never been stronger.

We can because political momentum and grassroots demand for universal health coverage (UHC) is growing, finally catching up to the evidence that universal health coverage is a smart investment and achievable goal everywhere.

We must because health system gaps jeopardize the lives and finances of hundreds of millions of people. That is true everywhere—especially where conflict, climate shocks, and disease outbreaks persist.

This time last year, I asked you to keep an eye on three things that could shape the health for all movement in 2016: (1) Japan’s G7 presidency; (2) the Sustainable Development Goal indicators for universal health coverage; and (3) country leadership.

Encouragingly, we’ve seen victories and positive steps forward across all three fronts:

But that wasn’t all. The Elders — a group of influential leaders convened by Nelson Mandela—launched a UHC campaign. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, formally announced the establishment of the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030, a new global mechanism to drive UHC coordination, advocacy, and accountability. The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to announce a new grant to this mechanism, to ensure that the vision of health for all is met with equally ambitious action.

And today, on the third annual Universal Health Coverage Day, a coalition of 864 organizations in 117 countries took up the rallying cry of ‘Act with Ambition’ to show the world that we’re just getting started. UHC Day 2016 has already broken records, with 80 events in 33 countries, and more than 120 million calls for ‘Health For All’ on Twitter.

These wins were not guaranteed. They were hard-fought and hard-won by health and development advocates who don’t know the meaning of complacency.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Having made the case for universal health coverage, the question is no longer “if” but “when.”

As countries roll up their sleeves and advance new policies to achieve universal health coverage, I can’t deny that the problems they face will become more tactical and complex, the nuances more important. Doubts that we can achieve our goal may even grow.

What can be done?

Build Country Capacity: We’ve entered a new era of health and development where countries that were traditionally recipients of aid are creating their own paths toward universal health coverage. If we’re serious about achieving UHC and reducing out-of-pocket payments in the long run, we need to support countries at every income level to find ways to increase domestic public health budgets. An example of work at this level is the Joint Learning Network for UHC, which The Rockefeller Foundation helped establish, in which today 27 countries are working together in the hard work of building and strengthening their health systems to assist all of their citizens.  And more countries are joining each year.

Focus on the Intersections: Universal health coverage is inherently cross-cutting—it impacts (and is impacted by) economic opportunity, the environment, gender equity and so much more. That’s why we need to place a greater emphasis on the intersections of UHC: how it builds resilience against climate threats, how the private sector can contribute, how overlapping efforts—like work to expand access to primary health care—can be harnessed to help us achieve our shared goal.

Get Serious about Accountability: We’ve set the stage for meaningful UHC measurement by advocating for a strong SDG indicator 3.8.2 and the establishment of the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030. Now we need to execute. This starts by asking the tough questions: Are we truly reaching everyone, everywhere, with the quality, affordable health services they need and deserve? Are we keeping people healthy in the first place? If not, what can we do to change course? Strong measurement tools and communication across efforts will allow us to expand basic, essential health services to the 400 million people who currently lack them. We can and must do better.

We cannot know for sure what tomorrow brings. But we do know that money spent on health is an investment, not a cost. So let’s make good on our promise to the hundreds of millions of people who are depending on us to make health care accessible and affordable. Let us stand together and affirm that universal health coverage is achievable, that health is a human right, and that we can reach our goal of ‘Health for All’ if we continue to act with ambition, together.

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