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As the deadline for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws nearer, improving maternal health (MDG 5) remains a major global challenge. In this issue of Connect, learn how EngenderHealth is training health care workers like Uma-Shree Pal in Bangladesh to protect pregnant women from the life-threatening dangers of postpartum hemorrhage. Also in this issue:


Policy Updates


The Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth is creating a series of infographics to help illustrate maternal health data and challenges in visual and compelling ways. The first of the series, shown above, depicts maternal mortality by country.

Putting a Smile on the Faces of New Mothers
As a young girl, Uma-Shree Pal dreamed of becoming a doctor and serving her community. Helping to save mothers’ lives during childbirth fit perfectly into her childhood vision. Today, at age 35, Uma-Shree is an EngenderHealth-trained health worker in Bangladesh, helping to educate pregnant women about misoprostol, a simple drug that can prevent excessive bleeding during childbirth and save women’s lives. Read more.

A Maternal Health Crisis in South Africa
In the last two decades, the number of women dying during childbirth in South Africa has quadrupled, according to a report by Human Rights Watch. Each year, more than 4,500 mothers die in Africa’s most industrialized country, even though 87% of women there deliver at facilities. The trend is attributed to high prevalence of HIV and poor practices of health professionals.


Global Perspectives

Historic UN Ruling: States Must Ensure Access to Maternal Health Care
In a major decision last month, a UN human rights body held the Brazilian government accountable for the death of Alyne da Silva, a 28-year-old mother. Announced August 10, the ruling concluded the first maternal death case ever to be decided by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The decision establishes that governments have a human rights obligation to guarantee women’s access to timely and nondiscriminatory maternal health services. Read more on our blog.

New “WASH for Mothers” Blog Series
The Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth has launched a new blog series, “WASH for Mothers,” on the scarcity of clean water and sanitation in developing countries, which has enormous impacts on the health of pregnant women and young children. Short for “water, sanitation, and hygiene,” WASH for Mothers will feature guest posts from experts at academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and government agencies. Check out all of the articles that have already been posted as part of the series.

PEPFAR Endorses, but Won’t Fund, HIV–Family Planning Integration
In its newest guidance, PEPFAR endorsed the importance of integrating family planning with HIV services, but it stopped short of directly funding family planning integration activities. The annual PEPFAR Country Operational Plan (PDF, 1.1MB) details key principles that apply to all family planning, reproductive health, and HIV programs supported by the U.S. government. EngenderHealth works actively in many countries to ensure that family planning counseling or referral services are available wherever HIV services are offered.


In the News <empty>

Advocacy Campaigns to Promote Reproductive Health and Rights
As always, EngenderHealth has been active this summer in advocating for women’s reproductive health and rights. Some of our latest actions include:

  • Urging (PDF, 48KB) Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, to reverse the dramatic global health cuts proposed last month in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Endorsing the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (H.R. 1319; PDF, 170KB), which aims to promote the sexual and reproductive health of individuals and couples in developing countries. The bill was introduced by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY).
  • Joining the Global Justice Center’s campaign urging President Barack Obama to reverse the U.S. government’s “no abortion policy” that routinely denies abortion services to women and girls who are raped and impregnated during armed conflict.

In the News <empty>

EngenderHealth’s RESPOND Project convened a September 8 meeting to discuss a new review by the Futures Institute on the social science behind “Couple-Years of Protection” (CYP) calculations. CYP is an indicator commonly used to monitor the progress of family planning programs.

EngenderHealth’s Fistula Care project, in collaboration with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, is hosting a consultative meeting on September 19–20, “Meeting the Needs of Women with Fistula Deemed Incurable.” The consultation will include participants with expertise in the surgical, nursing, bioethical, and psychosocial aspects of complex fistula who work in resource-poor environments. Meeting participants will set the stage for developing standardized approaches for diagnosing and caring for women living with fistula deemed incurable, including reintegration into community life.

On September 20, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will host an event celebrating the first anniversary of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. To support the Global Strategy, EngenderHealth has announced a commitment to build the capacity of health care professionals and programs to protect the ability and right of women and adolescents to make free and informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

The Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting will take place September 20–22 in New York City.

The UN High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Prevention and Control will take place in New York City September 19–20.

In the News <empty>

In an August 10 article, NewSecurityBeat.org (the blog for the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program) wrote about the role of EngenderHealth in the campaign to end fistula.

On August 10, FundsforNGOs.org highlighted an EngenderHealth-supported program aimed at reducing maternal death and the spread of HIV.

An August 11 story by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) showcased the success of EngenderHealth’s project in treating women living with fistula in Nigeria.

Mother Jones, SmartPlanet, IntraHealth International, and Feministing applauded the infographic on maternal deaths designed by the Maternal Health Task Force.

New Publications and Resources <empty>

EngenderHealth’s HIV Team recently released three reports on male circumcision rollout in Kenya:

EngenderHealth’s HIV Team also recently published COPE® for Male Circumcision Services: A Toolbook to Accompany the COPE® Handbook.

The RESPOND Project, for which EngenderHealth is the managing partner, published the Reality √: A Planning and Advocacy Tool for Strengthening Family Planning Programs: Trainer’s Guide in English and French.

The Fistula Care project published French translation of three technical briefs:



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