fp 1Commission approves decision to help saving mothers' lives by improving health services in Zimbabwe 
The European Commission is supporting a project that is expected to accommodate 150,000 women to access safe delivery and emergency obstetric and neonatal care services in Zimbabwe. The project's overall objective is to contribute to the reduction in maternal mortality through revitalising maternity waiting homes which will improve access to skilled attendance at delivery for high risk pregnancies.

Conference to look at maternal, child health
The third biennial Alaska Maternal Child Health and Immunization Conference is scheduled for Sept. 27-28 2012. The conference is presented by the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center and the Alaska Division of Public Health, Section of Women’s, Children’s and Family Health. The conference is an opportunity for health care professionals and policy makers to learn about “new and emerging issues in maternal and child health in Alaska.”

Sudan: Warrap Calls for Public Health Education to Combat Preventable Diseases
Health experts and government authorities in South Sudan's Warrap State have called for increased efforts and new innovative approaches to combat high maternal and infant mortality rates through the promotion of preventative care. Joseph Malek, Warrap State Minister of Cooperative and Rural Development, asked member community leaders and stakeholders to involve religious leaders, faith-based organisations and the media to educate the public. This initiative is one of the interventions being championed by the Government of South Sudan, UNICEF and WASH partners to address poor sanitation known as Community Led Total Sanitation.

Government and UNFPA collaborate to combat maternal mortality
The United Nations Population Fund is collaborating with the Government of Ghana to fight maternal mortality in five regions and help Ghana to meet its Millennium Development Goals. The programme will be implemented in 25 districts across five beneficiary regions.

Healthcare achievements of post-independent India
This article highlights healthcare achievements in India with a table detailing individual illnesses, achievements and current challenges for each. Achievements include raising life expectancy from 37 years in 1951 to 65 years in 2011 and reducing infant mortality between 1951 and 2000, from 146 deaths per 100 to 70 per 1000. The biggest challenge India faces is tackling both developing and developed country health needs. On the one hand India is combating basic health concerns such as malnutrition, low immunisation rates, hygiene, sanitation, and infectious diseases and on the other hand, environmental pollution and lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption, smoking, and high fat diets are set to increase the incidence rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer to almost epidemic levels. India’s public spending on health has increased to nearly 15% of the total health-related costs of its citizenry but is still lower than sub-Saharan Africa (40%) and Europe (75%).

China’s life expectancy to hit 77 by 2020: report
China’s average life expectancy will increase to 77 years by 2020 from 74.83 years in 2010, according to official forecasts. Targets for improving life expectancy, as well as nine other key indicators of the country’s public health, including maternal and child mortality rates, were set in a strategic report issued by the Ministry of Health. The report said national healthcare input should amount to 6.5 to 7 percent of the gross domestic product by 2020. The ratio stood at 4.98 percent in 2010, based on a 2 trillion yuan (314 billion U.S. dollars) annual healthcare budget.

Malaria in Pregnancy: A Solvable Problem
Doctors, public health care professionals, researchers and scientists gathered in Istanbul to attend a conference titled ‘Malaria in Pregnancy: A Solvable Problem’. The conference was organised by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Maternal Task Force, its objectives being to share the successes and challenges in malaria pregnancy from countries around the globe. Whilst malaria is still one of the most dangerous endemic diseases in the world, the World Health Organization has reported significant declines in malaria deaths in recent years; suggesting progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5.

Indian Minister Hails Effort to Curb Maternal Deaths
Indian Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad stated that efforts to safeguard women’s health during childbirth meant the country is on track to achieve its Millennium Development Goal. New figures show that maternal mortality rates are one-third of the amount recorded 20 years ago, at 200 per 100,000 births during the year 2010.

Intensify Education on safe sex and abortion – Dr Akumoah-Boateng
The Chief Executive Officer of Mab Group of Companies and Megavest Medical Centre, Dr Jacob Akumoah-Boateng, has called on the Ghana Health Service to intensify educational programmes on safe sex and abortion for young girls in the country. In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, he said many women engage in unsafe abortions as a result of ignorance and a lack of knowledge of their legal rights to safe abortion.

A nation's health
The national health of Nepal has seen great improvements over the last 20 years, but the health crisis is far from over. Higher literacy, levels of nutrition, the work of female community health volunteers and the spread of roads means Nepal no longer has the worst health statistics in the world but the challenge now is to continue making progress. Selecting medical school applicants with district backgrounds and who have worked their way up as paramedics improves chances of doctors serving in rural Nepal and increasing the supply of trained medical staff in Nepal’s rural hospitals is necessary if improvements are to continue.

USAID extends health info services to pregnant and new mothers via mobile phones
USAID has been spreading important health messages to expectant and new mothers across Bangladesh via mobile phones. The $1.5 million initiative will contribute to reducing maternal and newborn deaths by informing mothers and their families of health information and services.

Rs. 4.3 bn German financing for Maternity Hospital at Mahomadara
Germany has agreed, at the request of the Government of Sri Lanka, to provide approximately SLR 4300 million (Euro 28 million) through KfW, one of the largest development finance banks in Germany, to complete the rebuilding of the Mahamadara Maternity Hospital in Galle which was badly damaged as a result of a recent tsunami.

Ireland Signs Health Co-operation Deal with China
After an official visit to the country by Minister for Health James Rilley, Ireland has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China on health co-operation. Main areas include health regulation, e-Health and telemedicine, medical professional training, health promotion, maternal and child health, hospital standards and traditional Chinese medicine. Mr Reilly said ‘we are looking forward to working with the Chinese over the course of the coming years.’

South Africa: What Kills Mothers and Babies – Living With AIDS
An alarming reversal of gains is causing concern in South Africa in the fight against HIV and AIDS as high levels of mortality could prevent the country from achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. Dr Sikhonjiwe Masileila, Director of Maternal and Child Health in the Gauteng Health Department, says the challenge lies with health care professionals and a lack of skills knowledge and following protocols.

Maternal Mortality Rate in Jigawa Has Improved
Alhaji Aminu Danmallam, the Jigawa State Director of Primary Healthcare, has reported the mortality rate index for Jigawa has greatly improved due to the Safe Motherhood Initiative (SMI). The SMI began as a Jigawa State Government initiative in collaboration with the UK Department for International Development’s project ‘Partnerships for Transforming Health Systems’ in 2003 to address high levels of maternal mortality in the northern state.

Zanzibar: Indian Ocean Island Struggles to Sustain Malaria Gains
Zanzibar’s Minister for Health, Mr Juma Duni Haji states that despite remarkable achievements in fighting malaria, serious challenges remain that need to be addressed in order to sustain past achievements. Speaking to the visiting US Senate, a leading donor in the fight against malaria, Mr Haji claimed that such challenges spanned a broad spectrum; namely reluctance towards behaviour change and the use of bed nets, mosquito resistance to sprays and reliance on unpredictable donor funds.

Nigeria: Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) Requests Information on Maternal Health Care Spending
The civil society group SERAP has requested that the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, provide information on spending relating to the maternal health care delivery system and prevention and/ or reduction of deaths in women in pregnancy and childbirth over the last five years. With a worsening maternal mortality rate in Nigeria, lack of access to adequate and affordable healthcare services for women in rural area is cited as the main cause and ‘constitutes a violation of human rights’.

Ghana: Maternal deaths at KATH reduce in 2012 half-year
Professor Ohene Adjei, the hospital’s Chief Executive, said the mortality rate has dropped to 10.34 per 1,000 live births from 12.49 in 2011. Despite challenges with funding, the hospital invested in upgrading the Maternity and Children’s Block Project including the construction of an eye clinic, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) centre, x-ray processors and stand-by generators to ensure uninterrupted water and power supply. The new lease of life was much needed after decades of little investment.

USA: Global Reproductive Health Funding Debate in the Presidential Campaign
Author Mark Goldberg comments on the unfortunate use of the UNFPA as a ‘political wedge’ in the United States and the detrimental effect this could have on the fate of mothers across the developing world. Goldberg argues that very Republican administration since Reagan has withheld American contributions to the UNFPA and every Democrat administration has restored funding. In the run up to the next Presidential election, Goldberg reminds us ‘there should be no controversy about the value and utility of boosting access to modern contraceptive services, reducing maternal mortality, and promoting safe motherhood.’

New Innovation Needed in War Against Maternal and Infant Deaths in East, Central and South Africa

Health experts from across the world met at the 6th Best Practices Forum in Arusha, Tanzania to call for new and innovative approaches to combating high maternal and infant mortality rates. A UN Development report states that over 860, 000 children and 35,000 mothers died due to complications during birth in East, Central and South Africa. Dr Souza, of the WHO, outlined good governance, financing, medicines and technology, human resources, information and service delivery as the essential building blocks to achieve improved maternal and prenatal health.

Smoking During Pregnancy May Cause Asthma, Wheezing in Kids
New research from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggests that smoking during early pregnancy may boost the risk that preschool children will develop asthma and wheezing problems, even if the children aren't exposed to smoke after birth. The study analysed data on more than 21,000 children.

Philippines: General Santos City Upgrades Village Health Centres
The city government has embarked on the upgrading and rehabilitation of its 26 barangay health centres to provide better health services to local residents – particularly children and pregnant women. According to the City Integrated Health Services Office (CIHSO) chief, Dr. Edgardo Sandig, the move has been made in a bid to address the eight MDGs the country pledged to achieve by 2015. A barangay is the smallest administrative division of the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village.

UK: Health Poverty Action Marches Again for Maternal Health
Following the success of ‘March for Mothers’ earlier this year, another fundraising walk will take place in Brighton on September 30th. The first event, which took place in Greenwich Park, London, to celebrate mothers around the world, raised over £8, 000 to support Health Poverty Action’s maternal health work in Sierra Leone and Burma.