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Watch our video on the Global Gag Rule

This month, congressional negotiations continue over U.S. funding for global health. Below, learn how investments in international family planning and other reproductive health services are paying off. Also in this issue:


Policy Updates

Congress Considers Reinstating Global Gag Rule in FY 2011 Budget
With the April 8 deadline fast approaching for approving the fiscal year (FY) 2011 federal budget, Congress is debating the proposed reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, along with an unprecedented $61 billion in cuts approved in the House version of the FY 2011 budget. The House reductions also include a 39% cut to President Barack Obama’s FY 2011 request for bilateral international family planning and reproductive health funding. The Global Gag Rule, which prohibits any overseas organization that receives U.S. aid from having anything to do with abortion, had detrimental consequences for the health and lives of women and their families when it was previously instituted.

Maloney Introduces Bill to Prevent and Treat Fistula
On March 8, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced a bill to increase investments for preventing and treating obstetric fistula, a debilitating condition that develops when a woman experiences prolonged or obstructed labor in the absence of quality medical care. Introduced on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the bill seeks to expand access to maternal health care and family planning in developing countries, strengthen local health systems, and address the underlying causes of fistula, among other initiatives. Cosponsors of the Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope, and Dignity Restoration Act (H.R. 949) include representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Pete Stark (D-CA).


Global Perspectives

WHO: Significant Decline in Deaths from Unsafe Abortion
Significantly fewer women are dying from unsafe abortion today, a sign that interventions to improve postabortion care are effective, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO). Complications from unsafe abortion remain a leading cause of maternal death in the least developed countries, including parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. EngenderHealth is working to improve comprehensive postabortion care services in one of these countries, Tanzania, which has seen important progress in reducing maternal deaths. Read more.


News and Views <empty>

Sec. Clinton, Admin. Shah Launch Grand Challenge for Saving Lives at Birth
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah challenged innovators across the globe to submit groundbreaking ideas for improving health for mothers and newborns in developing countries. The goal of the effort, “Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development,” is to accelerate progress in maternal and newborn health by harnessing the collective imagination and creativity of experts and entrepreneurs. Partners in the initiative plan to provide $50 million over the next five years for projects that show potential for transforming the lives of pregnant women and their babies. Recognizing this need for innovation, EngenderHealth’s Maternal Health Task Force in 2010 also began issuing small grants to fund promising and creative tools and projects to improve maternal health across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

New Community of Practice for Maternal Health Supplies
EngenderHealth’s Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) is hosting a new online community of practice (CoP) focused on maternal health supplies. Basic supplies such as oxytocin, misoprostol, and magnesium sulfate are critical to ensuring healthy pregnancies and the safe delivery of babies and are included in the World Health Organization’s recently released list of the top 30 medicines (PDF, 210KB) for maternal and newborn health. Many health facilities in developing countries struggle to acquire supplies because of insufficient financing, poor infrastructure, or broken supply chains. The CoP includes an online discussion forum that enables participants to collaborate, coordinate, and learn from one another. Researchers, experts, and others with an interest in maternal health can register at the MHTF web site for this and other CoPs on clean birth kits and cesarean section indicators.

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In the News <empty>

EngenderHealth President Pamela W. Barnes and Global Health Council President Jeffrey L. Sturchio co-authored “The Best Investment in Global Women’s Health,” at The Huffington Post.

In a March 8 blog post, the U.S. Agency for International Development highlighted the work of the Fistula Care project in Mali.

On March 21, President Pamela W. Barnes met with Yale University graduate students and faculty to discuss global maternal health.

The Maternal Health Task Force attended the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, DC. For conference highlights, read their blog postings from the March 17–19 event.

New Publications and Resources <empty>

Assessing Integration of Family Planning and HIV Services in Tanzania
At a March 28–29 meeting hosted by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Paul Perchal, Director of EngenderHealth’s HIV/STI Program, delivered a presentation (PDF, 1MB) assessing EngenderHealth’s experience in integrating family planning and HIV services in Tanzania.

"Why Aren’t There More Maternal Deaths?"
Maternal Health Task Force Director, Dr. Ann Blanc, coauthored a study examining the factors, including declines in fertility resulting from increased contraceptive use, that have contributed to a global drop in maternal deaths between 1990 and 2008.

Novel Use for Mobile Phones
Read the newest technical brief from the EngenderHealth-led Fistula Care project, "Making Mobile Phones Work for Women with Fistula: The M-PESA Experience in Kenya and Tanzania" (PDF, 2.2 MB).


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