The Hunger Project’s Executive VP, John Coonrod, has moved from New York City to Washington, DC to strengthen THP’s seat at the table of international development. Each week, John sends us insight into issues of health, policy, human rights and more by way of the Washington Weekly.
Revitalizing the Child Survival Revolution
A Promise Renewed
Last week marked a milestone in several trends that THP has long stood for: integrated, holistic strategies; building alliances; and the tremendous untapped power of social mobilization.
The governments of the United States, India and Ethiopia teamed up with UNICEF, WHO and USAID to organize a large, high-level conferenceat Georgetown University in DC called Child Survival: A Call to Action. The event was attended by more than 50 health ministers and delegations from 80 countries.
See the UNICEF press release for highlights.
Continuum of Care
An incredible change is underway: the number of preventable child deaths is on the decline. The number has dropped from 12 million per year in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010 – still unconscionably high, but definite progress. Of those deaths, 40 percent occur in the first month of life – a reflection of the poor health, nutrition and care available to mothers and adolescent girls who lack the access to family planning services.
As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), the continuum of care – a holistic array of services – “for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) includes integrated service delivery for mothers and children from pre-pregnancy to delivery, the immediate postnatal period, and childhood.” It is the concept at the root of the 1,000 Days Campaign and the shift in the Global Health Initiative from a disease focus to a “strengthening health systems” approach focusing on women-and-children.
The concept is also at the base of the UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child campaign and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
WHO and UNICEF heads Margaret Chan and Tony Lake have a commentary in the most recent issue of the Lancet which gives a great and concise overview on this subject. (free login required.)
The Global Roadmap
The Call to Action launched a new Global Roadmap that centers around the goal of achieving child mortality rates of 20 per 1,000 live births in every country by 2035, and a global average of better than 15. There are a number of developing countries that have achieved annual rates of reduction consistent with making that goal, but we are not yet on track globally.
The Global Roadmap represents five significant strategic shifts in how the global health community works:
- Geography: Focus on the countries with the biggest number of child deaths. Half of all preventable child deaths are in five countries – India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo – whose representatives played leading roles in the conference.
- High burden populations: Increased focus on rural areas, slum populations and maternal care – a significant shift in health funding priorities.
- High impact solutions: 53 countries are facing human resource crisis but have seen success with huge campaigns to train front-line health workers. There are also new vaccines to prevent pneumonia and diarrhea, two of the biggest killers of mothers and children.
- Social conditions: These are not merely “health ministry” issues – they are issues of poverty, hunger and gender inequality.
- Mutual accountability: Greater transparency, hold each other to account, invest in the necessary systems to capture data and monitor progress.
Countdown 2015 – The 2012 Report – With two-page country profiles, this report analyzes data of the 75 countries with 95 percent of maternal and child deaths, across the continuum of care from maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition, as well as resource flows and programs.
- Happening now – June 20-22: Rio+20 Summit
- July 11, 2012: Nutrition Security and Family Planning meetings hosted in the UK