Catherine Lalonde is the senior program officer for the Francophone Africa program.
Saving the lives of women and children around the world is a team effort. It takes the voices of community and religious leaders, health professionals, concerned citizens, young people, and impassioned activists to effect change. Prioritizing women’s and children’s health requires sustained advocacy.
Yet, determining whether certain advocacy efforts are actually achieving desired results—evaluating an advocacy program—is challenging. Through the evaluation of our Mobilizing Advocates from Civil Society (MACS) project, which brings together civil society organizations and equips them with skills to be effective advocates, we are reflecting on what it means to evaluate advocacy.
By Alexia Escóbar
Alexia Escóbar is the National Coordinator for FCI-Bolivia.
In April, I journeyed by boat along Bolivia’s Ichilo River to a remote community of the Yuracaré people. I hoped to better understand how pregnant women from these poor indigenous villages travel to the nearest health facility–located an hour and a half away—for the skilled care they need. During our trip to Tres Islas, colleagues from UNICEF Bolivia and I discovered that these women face not only transportation difficulties but also many other barriers in accessing culturally respectful, high-quality health care. read more…
Sexual and reproductive health and rights beyond 2015: UN concludes negotiations on sustainable development agenda (Arabic)
أخذت المفاوضات الحكومية الدولية النهائية على جدول أعمال التنمية لما بعد عام 2015 في نيويورك في الفترة من 20-31 يوليو، 2015 وبلغت المناقشات ذروتها في اعتماد “تحويل عالمنا: جدول أعمال 2030 للتنمية المستدامة” من قبل 193 دولة من الدول الأعضاء، مساء الاحد 2 أغسطس بعد فترة طويلة و مفاوضات شاقة.
دعي ممثلي الشبكات الإقليمية للصحة الإنجابية و الجنسية من جميع أنحاء العالم، جنبا إلى جنب مع صندوق الأمم المتحدة للسكان، بلا كلل في هذه المفاوضات – كما لدينا في كل الدورات السابقة التفاوض الحكومية الدولية – لضمان أن جدول أعمال ما بعد 2015 ويضمن حقوق الإنسان، لا سيما من SRHR كل الناس في كل مكان. يجلب المساواة بين الجنسين في صدارة؛ يعترف دور الشباب كعوامل رئيسية من التغيير؛ ويشمل ذلك المشاركة الفعالة للمجتمع المدني في تشكيل التنمية العالمية، على الصعيدين القطري والعالمي.
Les dernières négociations intergouvernementales sur l’élaboration de l’ordre du jour de l’après-2015 se sont tenues à New York du 20 au 31 juillet 2015 et ont abouti à l’adoption par 193 États Membres de Transformer notre monde : Ordre du jour de 2030 pour le développement durable le dimanche 2 août au soir, après de longues négociations difficiles. De concert avec l’UNFPA, les représentants des réseaux régionaux de santé et droits sexuels et reproductifs du monde entier ont infatigablement plaidé durant ces négociations – comme nous l’avons fait au cours de chacune des sessions précédentes des négociations intergouvernementales – pour veiller à ce que l’ordre du jour de l’après-2015 garantisse les droits humains, notamment la santé et les droits sexuels et reproductifs de tous les individus où qu’ils soient, place l’égalité des sexes au premier plan, reconnaisse le rôle des jeunes en tant que principaux agents du changement et inclue la participation active de la société civile à forger le développement mondial, tant au niveau national qu’au niveau international.
La salud y los derechos sexuales y reproductivos después de 2015: ONU concluye las negociaciones de la agenda de desarrollo sostenible
Entre el 20 y 31 de julio de 2015, se llevaron a cabo las negociaciones finales entre los gobiernos en torno a la agenda de desarrollo post 2015 en Nueva York. Estas culminaron el domingo 2 de agosto con la adopción del documento de consenso: Transformar nuestro mundo: la agenda de desarrollo sostenible 2030, por parte de 193 Estados Parte, luego largas y arduas negociaciones.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights beyond 2015: UN concludes negotiations on sustainable development agenda
The final intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda took place in New York July 20-31, 2015 culminating in the adoption of Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by 193 Member States on Sunday evening, August 2 after long and arduous negotiations. Representatives of regional sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) networks from around the world, together with UNFPA, advocated tirelessly at these negotiations–as we have during each of the previous intergovernmental negotiation sessions–to ensure that the post-2015 agenda guarantees human rights, particularly the SRHR of all people everywhere; brings gender equality to the forefront; recognizes young people’s role as key agents of change; and includes the active participation of civil society in shaping global development, both at country and global levels.
Sékou Traoré, 26, became one of FCI Mali’s youth peer educators, or un educateur-leadeur, two years ago. He works as a mechanic at a garage in Bamako, making him one of many Malian youths who work in the economy’s informal sector. Youth in the informal sector have been, and remain, difficult to reach with health awareness and advocacy messages, because they take jobs rather than attend school where these youth health messages are concentrated.
While Sékou maintains his job, he works for FCI as a peer educator as often as time allows, sometimes once a week for a few hours, and sometimes two or three times a week. Sékou dedicates most of his free time to FCI.
By Amy Boldosser-Boesch and Mary Kinney
Amy Boldosser-Boesch, is Interim President and CEO of Family Care International (FCI) and Mary Kinney is Specialist with Save the Children, Saving Newborn Lives. This post originally appeared on the Healthy Newborn Network blog.
The global health community gathered on Tuesday evening, May 19 to recognize the importance of integrating maternal and newborn care and to celebrate the release of the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) Progress Report May 2015 and Strategies Toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM). The side session at the 68th World Health Assembly Integrating maternal and newborn care: Strengthening the continuum was standing room only as a panel of champions for integration of maternal and newborn health took the stage. Co-sponsored by the Governments of Malawi and Cameroon, this event was planned with the support of a wide range of partners.*
Shafia Rashid is senior program officer for Global Advocacy at Family Care International.
For more than five years, FCI has been working with Gynuity Health Projects and other partners to build the evidence base for expanded availability and use of misoprostol for the prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). PPH is the leading cause of maternal death, and misoprostol is a safe, effective medicine that is especially practical in low-resource settings, because it is available as a tablet and does not require refrigeration or injection.
This week marked an important milestone in global efforts to make misoprostol available to the women who need it, as the World Health Organization (WHO) approved its inclusion on the Model List of Essential Medicines (EML) for the treatment of PPH. Misoprostol was included on the EML for prevention of PPH in 2011, and the recent decision signifies WHO’s full endorsement of misoprostol as an essential maternal health medicine in settings where oxytocin — which requires cold storage and intravenous injection — is not available or cannot be used safely. The WHO Expert Committee for the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines, a panel that meets every two years to update the EML, recommended that misoprostol be listed for the additional indication of treating PPH and retained on the list for prevention of PPH. read more…
Calling for an integrated approach to maternal and newborn health: Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality
Amy Boldosser-Boesch is Interim President and CEO of Family Care International. This post originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force blog.
Next week at the 68th World Health Assembly, the Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM)Working Group — led by WHO in partnership with Family Care International (FCI), the Maternal Health Task Force, UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, the Maternal Child Survival Program, and the White Ribbon Alliance — will launch its much-anticipated report, Strategies Toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM). For FCI and our partners, this report presents an important opportunity to highlight the critical linkages between the health of a woman and that of her newborn baby. read more…
By Rima Jolivet, Maternal Health Consultant, MHTF
This post originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force blog.
In an important development for the global maternal health community, the long-awaited Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) will be launched at the 68th World Health Assembly, at an event hosted by Cameroon and Malawi and co-sponsored by the contributors to the Every Newborn Action Plan.
This event marks the culmination of over two years of consensus work and collaboration with multiple stakeholders that began in January 2013. The EPMM Working Group—led by the WHO in partnership with MHTF, UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, Family Care International, Maternal Child Survival Program (MCSP), and White Ribbon Alliance—has stewarded the process to gather key inputs and consult widely with a broad range of stakeholders to develop the ambitious yet feasible targets for ending preventable maternal deaths within a generation, and to identify the strategic priorities and actions necessary for achieving this vision. The strategies are presented in full in the EPMM report that has been recently published by the World Health Organization. The EPMM targets were included as part of the Every Newborn Action Plan resolution at last year’s World Health Assembly. read more…
What happens when a mother dies? In the West, the most ready and obvious answer is grief – the harrowing emotional and psychological toll of losing a loved one. A mother’s death is largely viewed as a private tragedy that will grow more manageable in time.
But in many developing countries, a mother’s death is much more than an emotional crisis, often leading to long-term social and economic breakdown, both for her immediate family and the wider community. This topic is explored in new depth, in a special issue launched today in Reproductive Health (an open-access journal).
“The True Cost of Maternal Death: Individual Tragedy Impacts Family, Community and Nations” focuses exclusively on the immediate and longer-term effects of maternal death on surviving children, households, and communities. It features seven studies, with data drawn from four African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa.
The research was conducted by two research groups, one led by Harvard’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, and the other a consortium made up of Family Care International, the International Center for Research on Women, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-CDC Research and Public Health Collaboration. The results provide hard evidence that a mother’s loss can devastate the livelihoods, quality of life, and survival chances of those she leaves behind.
Martha Murdock is Vice President for Regional Programs at Family Care International.
Midwives save lives. It’s as simple as that. But the obstacles and barriers midwives face are anything but simple.
We all know that midwives have crucial clinical skills that help them care for women and their newborns everyday all over the world. If these lifesaving services were available and accessible to all the women and babies who need them, midwives could help avert two-thirds of the nearly 300,000 maternal deaths and half of the 3 million newborn deaths that occur every year. Midwives play an absolutely critical role in making progress on Millennium Development Goals 4 (reducing child mortality) and 5 (improving maternal health and achieving universal access to reproductive health). And without a well-supported, trained, and supplied midwifery cadre, we won’t be able to meet the maternal and child health targets that will be part of the post-2015 agenda. We’re delighted to join our colleagues at the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) in celebrating the International Day of the Midwife today, 5 May. read more…
By Kigen Korir, National Programme Coordinator, SRHR Alliance in Kenya; Hellen Owino, Advocacy Officer, Centre for the Study of Adolescents in Kenya; and Lara van Kouterik, Senior Programme Officer SRHR, Simavi in The Netherlands
We have the largest generation of young people ever.
The world must listen to young people’s voices. It must ensure that we have the opportunity to influence policies that affect us, especially in setting the new development agenda for the era beyond 2015. It must understand that young people know what they want and need, and are committed to safeguarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
Too often, the voices of young people are drowned out by those of adult policymakers who think they know what young people need and assume young people are “too young” to articulate their issues effectively. For many years, these assumptions have limited the opportunities and constricted the space for young people to participate meaningfully in the creation of the development programs and policies that will have a direct impact on their lives.
At a recent side event during the Commission on Population and Development, young people voiced their concerns, shared best practices, and discussed key issues with other stakeholders. The event was hosted by Simavi (an NGO based in the Netherlands), the permanent mission of Ghana to the UN, and SRHR Alliances from Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi, and was attended by representatives, including youth, from country delegations; SRHR advocates; policy makers; and young people.
“Involving young people in SRHR is a basic right enshrined in the laws of many countries, and it is therefore incumbent for countries to observe the same,” explained Edith Asamani, a youth representative from Curious Minds Ghana.
Aisha Twalibu, a youth representative from YECE in Malawi, explained to the group that young people are a diverse group with different needs, and that listening to their voices will help governments, CSOs and development agencies tailor SRHR programs to their needs.
Three other young Africans shared case studies on youth SRHR programs. First, Chris Kyewe from Family Life Education Programme described his peer education program in Uganda, in which youth peer educators (YPEs) are trained to give SRHR information and education to their peers and refer young people to local health centers where trained healthcare providers offer youth-friendly services. In addition to education, YPEs also provide their peers with condoms and oral contraceptive pills, together with instructions on how to use them. This example showed how young people are meaningfully engaged in the implementation of the program.
Then Hellen Owino from the Centre for the Study of Adolescents in Kenya shared that comprehensive sexuality education programs in Kenya empower young people to make informed choices about their health and sexuality. CSA and the Kenya SRHR Alliance have been engaged in advocacy to include comprehensive sexuality education in the national curriculum of Kenya. She also shared that CSE programs should be appealing and interactive, for example by using ICT and social media, to capture the attention of young people. Justine Saidi, the Principal Secretary for Youth in Malawi also called for the active involvement of parents in demanding that young people have access to sexuality information.
Charles Banda from YONECO shared the last case study that focused on preventing child marriage in Malawi. He shared his experience in working with youth-led organizations to build awareness on the negative impact of child marriages on girls and communities, creating a more enabling environment for young girls to exercise their rights. He also described how civil society organizations in Malawi have advocated successfully to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 years, which was recently made into law by the President of Malawi.
Highlighting lessons from the women’s movement, the side event concluded with a discussion of key strategies for youth advocates, including:
- Mobilizing a critical mass of young people
- Holding governments accountable for fulfilling their national and international commitments
- Investing in ensuring that health data can be disaggregated by age group, especially for young people aged 10 to 14
- Identifying champions at all levels to advance the youth and SRHR agenda
It is time that young people’s views and concerns are incorporated into the new development agenda. Without listening to young people, no country will be able to realize the potential of the demographic dividend that comes with this generation.