Category Archives: Tween/Teen

Health Extension Workers Impact On #EthiopiaNewborns Via ONE.org

Health Extension Workers Impact On #EthiopiaNewborns Via ONE.org
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Atalay

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Atalay

“My turning point, was I lost a mom of six from bleeding,” said Dr. Abeba Bekele when speaking about her commitment to maternal and newborn health in Ethiopia. She distinctly remembered that moment as her turning point.

After having practicing medicine for five years in deep rural areas of the country, “I saw the issues, the problems, the challenges,” she said. “What made me decide actually to go into public health…..was I lost a mom of six from bleeding. Just bleeding on a couch because there was nothing, no supplies in the facility, we didn’t have IV fluids. The family was not willing to give blood for various reasons. But there was nothing in the hospital. So we tried to do everything, I had two midwives with me, and myself, and we lost her. I said, OK this is it. I don’t want to continue my life seeing these types of challenges. I have to go into prevention.”Now the Thematic Sector lead at Save the Children Ethiopia’s Saving Newborn Lives Program, Dr. Bekele has stayed true to that vow. Maternal deaths have been reduced by two-thirds since the year 2000, from 1 in 24 to 1 in 67.Ethiopia has been praised as a success story in Child Health, having reached Millennium Development Goal #4, to reduce child mortality, ahead of the 2015 schedule. Yet while the mortality rate of children age 1 month to just under 5 years has annually declined by 6.1%, the neonatal mortality rate in Ethiopia is only declining at a rate of 2.4 %. Newborn deaths account for 43% of all deaths under the age of 5 years old.Save The ChildrenThe major issue in Ethiopia is that approximately 80% of women give birth at home, often without the presence of a trained health care worker. The majority of the population lives in rural areas with poor access to health care.Dr. Abebe’s own story also illustrates that even in the presence of the most skilled physician, without resources, or transportation to a hospital from a remote area, lives can still be lost. The fact that less than half of newborns are protected against tetanus is another major contributing factor, especially for home births in unsterile conditions.The country’s success on MDG 4 illustrates that with dedicated financial and intellectual commitment, Ethiopia’s goal to reduce the number of newborn deaths by 2015 can be achieved. The Health Extension Plan implemented by the government to target the issue is deploying trained Health Extension Workers, and the Health Development Army, both key delivery platforms at the primary level.

The ultimate goal is one health care post for every 5,000 regional inhabitants attended by two Health Extension Workers. Then one larger health care center serving every five health care posts and one major hospital for each of the 800 districts of Ethiopia. Health Extension Workers train for one year after graduating high school in the communities in which they will serve. The Health Development Army volunteers have been key to the success of the program on a local level by educating their own communities.

In such a large, diverse country, there are cultural challenges to getting mothers and communities to adopt new health practices. In the southern region of Ethiopia when women were not coming in to the new Health Care Center to give birth, they figured out that the women did not feel comfortable with the birthing position on the table. When they changed it to a more culturally suitable option, women began to come in to give birth. Working with formal and informal community leaders has also proved important.

Dr. Abeba Bekele has kept her pledge from that moment when she lost that mother years ago as she continues to implement change in her country through her work with Save the Children. The government of one of the poorest countries in the world seems committed to preventative health care measures, and with education the thinking in rural communities is beginning to change. The great hope is that the newborn mortality rate will soon significantly change as well.

This is a slightly altered version of an article that appeared on ONE.org.  ONE Mom Elizabeth Atalay was in Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project Fellow on a New Media Fellowship to report on newborn health. Follow her journey on Twitter with hashtag #EthiopiaNewborns.

 

 

 

This Past Week Was World Immunization Week & Why It Matters #VaccinesWork

This Past Week Was World Immunization Week & Why It Matters #VaccinesWork

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Our pediatrician explained that the reason the Whooping cough outbreak was happening with the 10, 11 & 12 year olds in our town was because it was right around the time those kids were due for their booster shots.  Pertussis, known as the Whooping cough for how it sounds, is highly contagious, and presents as a persisting cough in older children and adults, but it can be deadly to babies. Pregnant women at risk of exposure are advised to be vaccinated against it.  The outbreak in the schools in my town were just another reminder to me this year of how fortunate we are to have access to vaccines that protect our children from such harmful viruses.

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The author advocating on capitol hill in 2013

As a United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Champion I advocate for global vaccines year round, but seeing vaccine preventable diseases popping up so close to home this year reinforces my mission to spread awareness to other moms here and abroad.  Less than an hour from where we live there was also recently a measles outbreak.  In the year 2,000 measles had been declared eliminated from the US, but it’s back, and that is a scary thing for a parent.   Measles is a highly contagious disease, and in other areas of the world it is still one of the leading causes of death in young children.   According to the CDC the past two years have seen the largest measles outbreaks in the US since the year 2,000.  Communities choosing not to vaccinate are opening this country up to a resurgence of diseases that we have previously worked very hard to eliminate as risks for our children.

There are countries where vaccines are not widely available, as they are here, and mothers will walk for days with their children, and wait in long lines to get their kids vaccinated. Those mothers know first hand the deadly risk of not vaccinating their children, they see it every day. In fact every 20 seconds a child dies in this world unnecessarily from a vaccine preventable disease.  We are fortunate enough to have access to vaccines in this country to protect our children from most of these diseases, yet with that security comes complacency and the urgency to vaccinate gets lost on some.  What those parents need to realize is that their choice not to vaccinate their own child, unwittingly puts all other children at risk.   One case of measles can quickly spread to 20 to 40 more cases, and can be deadly to some.

It is not just about keeping our own children healthy; vaccines have proven to be the best investment in global health out there. By preventing disease through vaccinations governments can save billions of dollars on the otherwise repercussions of health care costs.  Healthy communities are more productive, which is good for the economy. A good economy prevents social unrest, which prevents global unrest. In other words, investing in vaccines and global health is in the best interest of us all, no matter where we live. Remember in this ever shrinking world every deadly virus is just one plane ride away.  That is why World Immunization Week matters to us all. My fellow Rhode Island Shot@Life Champion Lisa Davis and I visited Congressman Langevin’s office during #WorldImmunizationWeek to ask him to support global immunization programs.  You can let congress know how important funding global vaccines is to you and your family by contacting them here.

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Advocating at our congressional office in Rhode Island (Polio & measles are in our Congressman’s representative’s hands)

 

 

 

 

 

Ensuring Every Baby Survives It’s #FirstDay ; Save The Children’s Report on Newborn Health

Ensuring Every Baby Survives It’s #FirstDay ; Save The Children’s Report on Newborn Health

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When my first baby was born and handed to me all cleaned, and swaddled I looked up to my Doctor to ask “can I kiss her?” He laughed and said, “yes, she’s yours, you get to take her home”. Suddenly I was responsible for a life! Just like that!

Each time as a mother giving birth I was on edge waiting to know that everything is going to be o.k. Even for baby number four, probably more so for baby number four, since I was of “advanced maternal age”, I was worried. That was here. In the USA, with modern medicine and an ambulance at the end of a  911 call. You might be surprised to learn that despite all that we still fall behind 68 other countries in newborn deaths the first day of life. Pretty shocking, isn’t it? In developing countries however the numbers are far worse. Too many mothers are not getting the pre-natal care they need, and often birthing alone in unsanitary conditions.

The first 24 hours of a babies life are the most critical, and while advances in preventing child mortality have cut that number in half according to a new report out today from Save The Children, Newborn health still continues to lag behind in progress. The report states that nearly half of all deaths of children under five are newborns. The greatest tragedy is that most of these deaths are preventable.

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In many rural communities there is a shortage of healthcare workers to aid in safe delivery. With community based healthcare workers in place, with the knowledge to resuscitate a newborn who is not breathing, and teach new mothers techniques such as breastfeeding and kangaroo care, newborn lives could be saved.

Save The Children is calling on both world leaders and private sector partners to join in what is being called the Five Point Newborn Promise in 2014 to save newborn lives. This plan calls to:

  • Issue a defining and accountable declaration to end all preventable newborn mortality, saving 2 million newborn lives a year and stopping the 1.2 million stillbirths during labor
  • Ensure that by 2025 every birth is attended by trained and equipped health workers who can deliver essential newborn health interventions
  • Increase expenditure on health to at least the WHO minimum of US$60 per person
  • To pay for the training, equipping and support of health workers, and remove user fees for all maternal, newborn and child health services, including emergency obstetric care
  • The private sector, including pharmaceutical companies, should help address unmet needs by developing innovative solutions and increasing availability for the poorest to new and existing products for maternal, newborn and child health.

The new report, “Ending Newborn Deaths,” shows one half of first day deaths around the world could be prevented if the mother and baby had access to free health care and a skilled midwife.

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The Save The Children “Ending Newborn Deaths” Report

Read the full report and find out more about how you can be a part of the change by visiting the Save The Children to get involved.

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

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Ava Anderson; How A 14 yr Old Is Revolutionizing The Cosmetics Industry

Ava Anderson; How A 14 yr Old Is Revolutionizing The Cosmetics Industry

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GUEST POST BY LISA DAVIS

About 5 years ago I started hearing about Ava Anderson, a 14-year-old girl who at the time lived right in my town of Barrington, RI. She, along with her parents, created a skincare line called Ava Anderson Non-Toxic. The reason Ava decided to make these products herself was that everything she was finding on the market contained harmful chemicals that were unsafe to use.

I recently spoke with Ava’s mom, Kim, and asked her a few questions about Ava and the history of the company. Kim imparted to me the story of how Ava watched a news segment one night in 2009 that exposed how many toxic chemicals are in teenage girls’ bodies from the products and makeup they use (there were hundreds). Ava was so horrified by what she saw that she immediately went through her home and threw out all of her personal care products. When Kim realized everything had been thrown out, she said to her daughter, “I support you in this, but I cannot leave the house without lipstick and deodorant!”

Ava even started a blog that soon had a thousand followers, in an attempt to recommend safer products for people to use.  But to her dismay, there were almost no safe products on the market. Everything contained chemicals of concern. And why were 1,342 toxic chemicals banned in Europe and only 9 banned in the US?

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Ava2 copy bear copyAva decided to create her own line of safe skincare that contained no harmful chemicals.  After the skincare line, they added the body care, hair care, and home cleaning lines as well. Now, the company is growing exponentially because people are becoming much more aware of and concerned about their exposure to toxins in their environment.  Their mission is not just to sell products, but to share the message of needed changes in chemical policy in the United States.

  Personally, the more I learned about the dangers of what we put on our skin and in our bodies, the more upset I got. Coincidentally around the same time my own skin had become increasingly unmanageable. No amount of facials, medicine, or costly skincare seemed to improve its condition.

When I switched to Ava Anderson products (that contain only organic botanicals) my skin looked and felt SO much better. I started using more of the Ava Anderson line of products (home care, hair care, etc.). I love them, the company, and how good my skin looks. And I love that it is good for myself, my family, and the environment. I believe in the products so strongly that I even became a rep for the product line, and I love the message of living toxin-free. If you would like to learn how to lead a healthy, more toxic-free life or to check out Ava’s products, you can visit my website.

Lisa Davis is a Biologist with a MA in Creative Writing, and a mother of three. She was recently selected by the United Nations Foundation as a Shot@Life Champion.Lisa copy

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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