Photo by Kate Holt/MSCP                                                                                                          January 29, 2019    Follow us on Twitter   View our videos on YouTube
Rift Valley Fever More Dangerous than Zika for Pregnant Women
Photo: Every Mother Counts  
New research has shown that Rift Valley fever, a mosquito-borne virus, can have adverse effects on human fetuses if contracted by mothers during pregnancy. To date, Rift Valley fever has primarily plagued livestock in sub-Saharan Africa; however, annual outbreaks in humans occur and are responsible for flu-like symptoms, as well as liver problems. Two cases of infected fetuses have been confirmed, with many more likely misidentified as Rift Valley fever is often asymptomatic in pregnant women and can go undetected.

The Zika virus created a global crisis in 2015, when thousands of babies in Central America and South America suffered severe birth defects. "Zika caught everybody by surprise," says Amy Hartman, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh who led the research on Rift Valley fever. "If doctors had known about Zika's birth effects, they could have done a lot more to protect pregnant women and babies. With Rift Valley fever, we're trying to get ahead of the curve."
Read about USAID's ongoing response to support families affected by Zika.  
Study: In-facility Midwife Training Improves Health Outcomes   
Photo: Jhpiego
A recently published study led by SL@B Innovator Jhpiego reveals fascinating insights into the importance of regular, onsite trainings for nurses and midwives. According to the research, training nurses and midwives in the health facilities where deliveries are performed, has a direct correlation to safer births for both women and newborns. Jhpiego's study shows that onsite mentoring, trainings, and simulation-based lessons led to a 62% decrease in newborn deaths across 125 public facilities in Uganda. Hemorrhage ---  the leading cause of maternal death globally ---  was cut by 17% globally under the same circumstances.

"Traditional training approaches have not worked," says lead author Cherrie Evans, a senior maternal and newborn health advisor at Jhpiego. "Skills are taught, and competencies are 'learned,' in so far as the attendees pass tests at the end of these events. But the literature shows that this strategy has not meaningfully changed how health care providers care for people day in and day out and, as a result, haven't impacted survival when mothers start bleeding and babies stop breathing." This philosophy is central to Jhpiego's Low Dose, High Frequency training model ---  a learning approach funded by Saving Lives at Birth designed to provide short, but frequent instruction to improve health workforce competence, confidence, and performance.

Cutting Maternal Deaths in India with Increased Spending on Health Care
A maternity ward in Madhya Pradesh. India has expanded its immunisation programme to cover 32.8 million children and 8.4 million pregnant women over the last three years. Photo: Roger Parkes/Alamy
India is ramping up efforts to address maternal and newborn mortality throughout the country by implementing a spending increase of $100 billion on health care over the course of the next seven years. Current spending on health care sits at 1% of India's GDP; this number is expected to rise to 2.5% by 2025 as a result of the pledge, according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 2018 Partners Forum in New Delhi. At the forum, partners pledged to strengthen/expand health systems, improve multi-sectoral collaborations, scale-up innovations to improve efficiency, impact and reach, and more.
"This will mean an actual increase of 345% over the current share, in just eight years," says Modi. "We will continue to work for the betterment of people. Women, children and youth will continue to remain at the heart of every policy, programme or initiative. The health of mothers will determine the health of the children and the health of children will determine the health of our tomorrow."

As evident by the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Global Strategy for Women, Children, and Adolescent Health, improving health and well-being is one of the greatest investments for contributing not only to social development, but also to economic growth; additional multi-sectoral collaborations must be set in place to address health challenges in a comprehensive and integrated way.

India has seen  several maternal, newborn and child health successes in recent years. Modi says that access to antenatal care, free health checkups, and prevention and treatment of malnutrition are some of the reasons the country has seen a reduction in maternal and newborn mortality rate.  

Countdown to 2030: Tracking Global MNCH Progress
Photo: Every Woman Every Child 
A new paper from the Countdown to 2030 Collaboration outlines the significant progress made toward improving access to universal coverage for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health and the areas requiring increased focus moving forward, including the need for universal coverage for essential interventions, a call for higher-quality services to enhance outcomes, and an accelerated pace for progress of intervention coverage. Major data gaps still exist as well, which contributes to challenges around planning, decision-making, and accountability.    
Countdown to 2030 aims to support the monitoring and measurement of women, children, and adolescent health in the 81 countries that account for 95% of maternal mortality and 90% of all child deaths worldwide. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the prevalence of maternal and child mortality, stillbirths and stunting among children younger than five years of age must decline more quickly than it has since 2000.

The Importance of Data in Addressing Critical Health Care
Issues for Women and Children  
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Jane Mohammed is aiming to make sure data is available to all people. Photo: Financial Times  
In a recent address at the United Nations World Data Forum, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Jane Mohammed presented major data gaps showing that the "data revolution" hasn't equally benefited people around the world. A potential solution, according to Mohammed, is developing a global network of statistical training institutions to build statistical capabilities of nations worldwide. Insights generated from the forum may allow countries to develop effective, strategic plans for improving health among women, children and adolescents across the globe.

According to the Deputy Secretary-General, major coverage gaps exist for indicators such as antenatal care, family planning and immunization ---  especially among disadvantaged populations. This threatens the progress in maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to track and drive.

PLOS Medicine Special Issue: Maternal and Child Health & Nutrition
Photo: PLOS   
PLOS Medicine (along with a number of guest editors) has announced a forthcoming special issue of the journal specifically dedicated to the role nutrition plays in maternal and child health.
PLOS is seeking high-quality primary research articles that address the health of the mother and child as well as aspects of nutrition that lie within one or more of the following crosscutting categories:
  • Social and nutritional transitions
  • Maternal and infant nutrition
  • Continuum of care
  • Developmental origin of health and disease (DOHaD) perspective
Click here to learn more about the call. The deadline for submissions is March 8th, 2019 ---  be sure to mention this call for papers in your cover letter.

To submit your manuscript, click here.  
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