In rural Central America women are dying. Before becoming wives, mothers or grandmothers, they are dying because poverty, inequality and geography are keeping them from education, care, and treatment. They are dying largely from preventable and treatable diseases such as cervical cancer.
These women are only part of the more than 500,000 maternal deaths every year, and millions more who suffer from preventable disabilities because they cannot access the services they deserve.
Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force are trying to change this injustice through a competition of innovative maternal health projects that transform the field of maternal health globally.
One of these projects comes from a group of Rice University undergrads who are working to end the cycle of maternal death and disability with only a pack on their back. What is so innovative about the OB-GYN Lab in a Backpack is they are taking the age-old concept of the house call and updating it with a solar-powered pack of medical supplies bringing rural women access to health care for the first time.
In 2008, the students who designed the pack were recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative and awarded a grant to refine and produce more of the packs. In the words of President Clinton, “The potential of this to save lives is really quite staggering.”
Today the packs come with tests specific to the community’s needs, such as pregnancy, HIV or syphilis. In 2009, the pack provided care for an estimated 500 women in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. The organization is competing to continue and expand efforts in Guatemala.
In Guatemala, only 67 percent of women have received a Pap smear and, in rural areas, the amount is only 58 percent. The backpack provides health care providers with the appropriate tools to reach these women, screen for cervical cancer and provide reproductive health services and treatment.
The plan is to have packs for maternal, dental and eye care manufactured in-country within three years—bringing health to vulnerable women and girls no matter where they are.
Read the original post at http://ashleyarnold.net/healthygirlsblog/ob-gyn-in-a-backpack/. Check out other solutions for improving maternal health or to participate in the global call to solutions, please visit Healthy Mothers, Strong World: The Next Generation of Ideas for Maternal Health. www.changemakers.com/maternalhealth.
This Earth Day is an important time to reflect on not only climate change, but its effects—including poverty and disease. According to USAID, it is anticipated that the world’s population will increase by 50 percent by 2050; 99 percent of this growth will take place in developing countries, and more than 90 percent of the growth comprises the poorest individuals of these countries.
Organizations such as Population Services International (PSI) are champions in combating the effects of climate change preventing HIV, unintended pregnancies and death from malaria and diarrhea.
Watch Anna Kournikova, former tennis star and PSI Ambassador, as she visits Haiti as part of a public-awareness campaign.
10 Population Health Facts
- Between 1995 and 2005 alone, the urban population of developing countries grew an average of 1.2 million people per week or around 165,000 people per day.
- Evidence from 47 countries on child health outcomes shows higher socioeconomic inequality in urban areas compared to rural areas.
- One in three urban dwellers or 1 billion people worldwide lives in slums.
- Around 32 percent of urban residents in developing regions lack improved sanitation. Globally, it is estimated that 3 percent of all deaths and most diarrheal disease are attributable to the lack of improved drinking water sources, sanitation, and adequate hygiene.
- About 25 percent of city dwellers in developing countries and 70 percent in least developed countries use solid fuels for heating and cooking, causing indoor pollution. This greatly increases the risks of respiratory disease, especially in children, and exacerbates outdoor air pollution.
- Tuberculosis (TB) incidence is much higher in big cities. In New York City, TB incidence is four times the national average. Incidence of TB in some parts of London is as high or higher than in China. The situation is no different in resource-poor countries: 45 percent of TB cases in Guinea live in Conakry; 83 percent of TB cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo live in cities.
- Developing country cities are particularly vulnerable to health hazards from climate change. In particular, the coastal location of many major cities makes populations more vulnerable to extreme weather and rising sea levels. Heat waves also place cities at risk of the “heat island’ effect, where temperatures may be as much as 41°-52° F (5-11° C) warmer than surrounding rural areas due to dense urban geography and energy sources.
- Prevalence of HIV in generalized epidemics is generally higher in urban areas; population-based household surveys indicate that prevalence is 1.7 times higher in urban than in rural areas.
- The rapid growth of cities has increased the visibility of unequal access to skilled care at birth and to emergency care for urban women.
Source: Knowledge Network on Urban Settings report, the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health
An advocate’s guide was recently released from the Battered Women’s JUSTICE Project and is available at the web site of the Office on Violence Against Women and the Minnesota Center Against Violence & Abuse at the University of Minnesota.
Working with victims of abuse is not easy, but when they are also immigrants it becomes increasingly more difficult. These issues include culture, language, legality, law enforcement and immigration status. It is also possible that the individual is a victim of human trafficking. Check out the Advocate’s Guide here.