Our Research Director for global public health, Carol McLaughlin, recently attended the 4th Annual Pediatric Global Health Symposium at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). This year’s theme was “Highlighting Effective Interventions: Targeting Newborn and Child Health.
- Focus on the gaps: Carol Bellamy, former Executive Director of UNICEF, noted how simple, effective, and relatively inexpensive interventions are not reaching communities, especially children who are poor. Many life-saving therapies can be delivered by well trained and supervised community health workers in an approach called community case management. Examples include antibiotics for childhood pneumonia, oral re-hydration solution for diarrhea (a simple mixture of sugar, salt, and clean water), and medicines for malaria.
- Use integrative delivery platforms to reach women: Leverage the platform created by microfinance organizations to reach millions of women with health services. Marcia Metcalfe of Freedom from Hunger spoke about how early experience suggests this requires marginal investment, is low cost to sustain, and can tap into the dynamics of group learning for adoption of healthy behaviors.
- Harness the potential of the private sector as an important delivery channel to enhance access and quality of health services: Kathryn Banke highlighted how the POUZN project successfully worked with the private sector to deliver interventions to prevent and treat diarrheal illness (point-of-use water disinfectants and oral re-hydration solution co-packaged with zinc).
- Newborn health: Now more than 40% of child deaths in the developing world are in the first month of life and most are in the first two days after birth. Two exciting programs presented included Helping Babies Breathe—which focuses on dissemination of evidence-based newborn resuscitation—and Sure Start. Catherine Howard Taylor of PATH described how Sure Start works with partners and community health workers to get essential life-saving advice and practices to mothers in India. We’re anxiously awaiting their program evaluation data expected in the upcoming months.
Stay tuned—over the months ahead, we will be diving deep into these and other promising solutions to addressing the gaps in global maternal and child health.