In a study published in this week’s PLoS Medicine, “Francesca Celletti from the WHO, Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues argue that a transformation in the scale-up of medical education in low- and middle-income countries is needed,” according to a PLoS press release (10/18). The authors write in the study, “In order to transform population…
Health Workforce & Capacity
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog examines how Kenya is working to decrease the number of preventable deaths under a “recently launched … campaign called ‘Let’s Live,’ which sets a target of reducing preventable deaths in Kenya by 50 percent by December 2012.” Achieving that goal “would be an historic feat. But the country could seriously decrease numbers of preventable deaths if it used currently available health tools, such as the rotavirus vaccine,” the blog writes (Donnelly, 10/18).
IRIN examines maternal and child health in “conflict-afflicted eastern Myanmar, [where] until recently obstetric care was often crude, unsterile and dangerous for both mother and child, health experts say.” To address high rates of maternal and infant mortality in the region, “in 2005 several CBOs, the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins University, and the Global Health Access Program launched the Mobile Obstetric Medics (MOM) project — dramatically boosting access to care,” IRIN writes.
Security issues and torrential rains are hampering relief efforts aimed at fighting severe malnutrition and disease in the Horn of Africa, the Guardian reports. Last week, two workers with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) were kidnapped, allegedly by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, prompting the group to evacuate some of its staff from two of three refugee camps on the border of Somalia and Kenya, according to the newspaper.
“Cholera cases have risen in Haiti, but the number dying from the disease is down, according to researchers from the [CDC],” CNN’s health blog â€œThe Chartâ€ reports. Robert Tauxe, researcher and deputy director at CDC said, “The number of deaths was initially way too high. But within a few weeks of the outbreak, we trained teams to treat the disease and increased access to supplies,” according to the blog. The new CDC report “lay[s] out the lessons learned since cholera emerged in Haiti and what needs to be done to sustain the progress that has been made to treat the disease and prevent deaths,” the blog notes, adding, “The most beneficial lessons may seem quite simple” and include training more health workers, educating citizens and improving sanitation systems (Dellorto, 10/13).
VOA News profiles a medical clinic in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, called Alam Sehat Lestari, or ASRI, and established by American Kinari Webb, that aims to promote health and wellness through quality medical care and conservation. In addition to allowing patients to pay for health care “through non-monetary means, such as woven baskets, seedlings or labor exchanges,” clinic workers educate patients about conservation as they wait to register, and each month they visit surrounding communities to determine whether they are illegally logging from a nearby national park, the news service notes. “Communities that do not participate in illegal logging pay about 40 percent less than those that do,” according to VOA News (Schonhardt, 10/4).
Health care workers fleeing the besieged Libyan city of Sirte on Sunday said people wounded in the fighting “are dying on the operating table because fuel for the hospital generator has run out,” Reuters reports. “The fighting has entered its third week and civilians are caught up in a worsening humanitarian crisis,” the news agency writes, adding that “[a]id workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who brought medical supplies into Sirte on Saturday could not reach the hospital because of shooting.” The organization said it plans to return to Sirte and reach the hospital if security allows, Reuters notes (10/2).
New York Times reporter Lawrence Altman recounts his experience in the mid-1960s with a measles immunization campaign in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) during his time with the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the CDC in a “Doctor’s World” perspective piece in the newspaper. Altman says that although the effort to expand the immunization campaign from a small field trial to a regional program “failed miserably,” the “lessons learned from these blunders led to a new program that wiped out smallpox, still the only human disease to have been eradicated from the planet.”
In addition to “essential money,” “the right policies, government commitment and citizen accountability” are needed to decrease child mortality and improve other global health indicators, “[b]ut the sine qua non for effective health care delivery is health workers. Whether it’s prevention, treatment or care, it’s all about health workers,” Jonathan Glennie, a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.”
Recent U.N. statistics showing a drop in child mortality are both good and bad, because the number of child deaths continues to drop, but “progress isn’t reaching all families around the world, and it isn’t reaching newborn babies as often as older children,” Joy Lawn, director of Global Evidence and Policy for Save the Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program, writes in a GlobalPost opinion piece. While the knowledge and technology exist to save lives, “too often, there is simply no one equipped to deliver basic lifesaving care to families who need it most. More than anything else, babies and children die for lack of frontline health workers,” she writes.