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Selected Category: women’s/maternal health

Implications of Latrines on Women’s and Girls’ Safety

Categories: Emergency Response and Recovery, toilet, water, women's/maternal health

Michelle Hynes and Michelle Dynes are epidemiologists in CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch.

Michelle Hynes and Michelle Dynes are epidemiologists in CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch.

Michelle Hynes and Michelle Dynes are epidemiologists in CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch. They took a moment out of their hectic schedules to talk about their work related to World Toilet Day. Dr. Hynes and Dr. Dynes have been involved in public health activities linking the safety of women and girls to the locations and privacy of latrines in humanitarian settings.

Michelle Dynes, EIS Officer/Epidemiologist, PhD, MPH, MSN, CNM, RN

Michelle Dynes, EIS Officer/Epidemiologist, PhD, MPH, MSN, CNM, RN

During CDC’s response following the Haiti earthquake, my team worked with the International Rescue Committee and the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster assistance to address the needs of women and girls in internally displaced persons’ camps in Port au Prince. Our team evaluated the use of handheld solar lights by women and girls. We wanted to better understand women and girls’ sense of safety in the camps and to know if the solar lights were acceptable, useful, and durable.

We found that one of the primary reasons women and girls left their shelters at night was to use latrines. In focus group discussions, women identified the latrines and the paths leading to the latrines as areas where they felt the least safe. Women and girls spokes about men hanging around the latrines and nearby paths. They described lack of proper lighting in the area. They also described latrines without privacy or doors to close the latrines, with men positioning themselves so they could see inside the facilities.

After the baseline surveys, the team distributed handheld solar lights to each household and followed up every other month to explore their impact. It turned out that the lights were extremely beloved, even precious. Women reported using them at least once a day, if not more often. They used them for going to latrine, to navigate dark pathways, and kids used them for homework at night.

The intervention was successful. We know these lights had high durability and were used often. Women and girls maintained the ability to use the lights when they needed them. We think, because the lights were introduced into the household in the context of safety for women and girls, that men and boys in the family respected their rights to use the devices.

The handheld solar light project is important for women and girls. Having access to lighting is critical. Think about how many times a day you turn a light on. Here in the U.S., you expect to be able to see in the parking lot or to turn on a light when you walk into the house after dark. Giving women and girls in displacement camps access to lighting also gives them control. This is a huge change for women and girls who feel like they have little control in their lives. As an intervention, it is easy to do.

Michelle Hynes, Epidemiologist, sexual and reproductive health lead for CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch

Michelle Hynes, Epidemiologist, sexual and reproductive health lead for CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch

The project that my colleague, Michelle Dynes, described is a great example of the ways in which violence against women and girls can be prevented or reduced in humanitarian settings. The location and lighting of public latrines is only one of the safety issues in displacement camps. As part of an inter-agency task team led by UNICEF and UNFPA, I have been working on the revision of guidelines for the integration of gender based violence (GBV) interventions in humanitarian settings. Many different sectors work in humanitarian settings, such as the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector. These sectors aren’t necessarily aware of actions they can take to increase the safety of women and girls or other at-risk groups, or feel confident in their ability to do so. Woman and girls who must walk into isolated areas to bathe, go to the bathroom, or get water are vulnerable to rape and other violent acts. The guidelines provide suggested actions the sector can take to reduce these risks. For example, those who are at risk can be included in the planning process for the location of the latrines and aspects of the construction such as lighting and privacy. Similar guidance will be given for all sectors working in humanitarian settings. By providing specific ways in which each sector can include GBV prevention and response activities into their normal tasks, the humanitarian field as a whole will have increased capacity to respond to and prevent this type of violence. We expect the revision of the GBV Guidelines to be completed by the end of 2014 with the official launch in 2015.

 

 

 

Public Health Informatics in Action in Malawi: Making life easier for healthcare workers and patients while improving quality through an innovative national Electronic Medical Record System

Categories: child health, global health security, HIV/AIDS, women's/maternal health

Instituting an Electronic Medical Record System reduces the need to manage and store growing volumes of patient charts, a major challenge in resource-limited settings.

Instituting an Electronic Medical Record System reduces the need to manage and store growing volumes of patient charts, a major challenge in resource-limited settings.

Denise Giles, M.P.H., Health Scientist, CDC-Malawi

Denise Giles, M.P.H., Health Scientist, CDC-Malawi

Keeping track of even one patient undergoing treatment for HIV/AIDS can be complicated enough.

Doing it for over 472,865 patients when you’re a low income country coping with high demand and a sputtering economy magnifies the complexity.

Which is why Malawi’s story – and its solution – is attracting attention and praise. It’s a story of how Electronic Medical Record System (EMRS) technology is being used and the foresight needed to bring it to reality.

You don’t have to look far to see the positive results.

CDC Protects Families: My favorite stories

Categories: child health, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), women's/maternal health

Terri Still-LeMelle

Terri Still-LeMelle

As we celebrate families on Mother’s Day, May 11, and the International Day of Families, May 15, I am especially proud to work in CDC’s Center for Global Health.  As one of the Center’s  health communication specialists, I have the privilege to write or edit many stories about how CDC’s programs impact the lives of families around the world.  In honor of this season, I’d like to highlight a few of my favorite accounts about brave mothers, determined families, and CDC’s global health programs.

 
 
 
 

Preventing Maternal Deaths in Africa

Categories: HIV/AIDS, women's/maternal health

 Healthy mothers and babies

Maternal health has improved in most regions of the world, with far fewer women dying during pregnancy and childbirth than 20 years ago. 

Isabella Danel, MD, MS, CDC Division of Reproductive Health

Isabella Danel, MD, MS, CDC Division of Reproductive Health

Progress in sub-Saharan Africa, however, has been much slower. HIV and complications of childbirth are the leading causes of death among reproductive age women around the world, but above all in this region. Being pregnant in sub-Saharan Africa is often a dangerous medical condition. In Zambia, women who have given birth are often greeted with a Bemba expression of relief and surprise: “Mwapusukeni.” Translated it means, “You have survived!”

That greeting is becoming more commonplace these days, which is another way of illustrating a basic truth: positive change can happen quickly when the right actions are taken to improve maternal health.

Increasing Community and Stakeholder Knowledge, Awareness, and Acceptability of Cervical Cancer in Kenya

Categories: cancer, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), women's/maternal health

Children in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya

Children in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya (Photo courtesy of Natasha Buchanan, CDC)

This year, in recognition of World Cancer Day, CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC) is raising awareness about the impact of cancer around the world and CDC’s efforts to reduce the global burden. DCPC’s global activities include cancer prevention and control projects in Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, India, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Natasha Buchanan, PhD, CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

Natasha Buchanan, PhD, CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

Many of these global projects are focused on helping to reduce the burden of cancer in developing regions, where more than half of the annual 14 million new cancer cases and 8 million cancer deaths occur. Among women worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death, but in less developed regions, the burden is much higher.

Eighty-five percent of cervical cancer deaths occur in developing countries where cervical cancer screening programs are incomplete or nonexistent. Because most women with cervical cancer in developing countries are 50 years old or younger, cervical cancer is the largest cause of years of life lost due to cancer in the developing world.

Reflections on the Fight Against HIV in Malawi

Categories: child health, HIV/AIDS, women's/maternal health

 

CDC Malawi Laboratory Advisor Dr. Abdoulaye Sarr reviews a CDC supported HIV program during a site monitoring visit

CDC Malawi Laboratory Advisor Dr. Abdoulaye Sarr reviews a CDC supported HIV program during a site monitoring visit.

This year, my staff and I have had the opportunity to spend considerable time in health facilities that our HIV-funded partners support throughout this beautiful country. Some of these facilities are on back-country roads; others are on forest-covered hills, while others sit on the shores of Lake Malawi. For CDC-Malawi, making these trips every quarter has been critical to strengthening our partnership with the Malawi Ministry of Health, ensuring quality in our programming, keeping our technical discussions grounded and practical, and helping ensure each of us is aware of the challenging realities faced by health workers and patients on a daily basis.

Sundeep Gupta, MD, MPH, Director, CDC-Malawi

Sundeep Gupta, MD, MPH, Director, CDC-Malawi

It has also highlighted how, against enormous odds, Malawi has been a leader in achieving remarkable successes in the fight against HIV, despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 181 of 187 countries in GDP per capita. In Malawi, almost one in every four adult urban women are infected, child and maternal deaths remain elevated due to the epidemic, and almost every family in the country has a profound story to tell about how they have been personally affected by this disease.

I find it thrilling that in the next two months, Malawi is set to reach the milestone of 500,000 persons (one of every 30 Malawians) alive and on antiretroviral treatment, something that was simply inconceivable when the program started a decade ago.

Celebrating a Decade of Progress Fighting Global HIV/AIDS

Categories: child health, HIV/AIDS, women's/maternal health

Deborah Birx, MD, Director, Division of Global HIV/AIDS, CDC Center for Global Health

Deborah Birx, MD, Director, Division of Global HIV/AIDS, CDC Center for Global Health

This World AIDS Day, CDC and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) commemorate a decade of success in fighting global HIV/AIDS. Ten years ago, this modern-day plague was devastating the health and wellbeing of millions of individuals in communities across Africa and in other resource-poor countries around the world. Today, we celebrate the extraordinary progress we have made in reducing new HIV infections and providing life-saving care and treatment to those who are living with HIV/AIDS.

With resources available through PEPFAR, we have provided antiretroviral drug treatment (ART) to millions and increased life expectancy rates in much of Africa. HIV-infected patients have returned to the workforce, enabling them to provide for themselves, their families, and communities; and AIDS-related deaths are declining worldwide. In June, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the joyous news of the millionth baby born HIV-free thanks to life-saving PEPFAR-funded programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV. New pediatric HIV infections have dropped by nearly 50% since PEPFAR began. 

September 29 is World Heart Day!

Categories: cardiovascular disease, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), women's/maternal health

 

In honor of World Heart Day, the CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention was asked to write commentary on the work the CDC is doing worldwide in reducing the morbidity and mortality due to cardiovascular diseases.

Barbara Bowman, Ph.D., Director, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC

Barbara Bowman, Ph.D., Director, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC

The theme of this year’s World Heart Day is one that touches everyone—the cardiovascular health of women and children. Though many women do not perceive cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the greatest threat to their health1, roughly 8.6 million women across the world die each year from CVD2. This is more than all cancers, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.  Women are not the only ones vulnerable to CVD. Risk among children is growing, due to increasing trends of unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. 

CVD is the leading cause of death worldwide. 

Yet there is good news: CVD can be prevented. Everyday heart-healthy behaviors, such as eating a diet low in salt, being physically active, not smoking  and promoting a smoke-free home environment, as well as avoiding the harmful use of alcohol can improve the lives of all people, no matter their age or gender. 

Fresh Voices From the Field: The Value of Our Global Health Work

Categories: child health, health systems strengthening, HIV/AIDS, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), violence and injury, water, women's/maternal health

 

Chelsey Beane is pictured near the home of a traditional healer in Andruvu Village, in the Arua District of Uganda.

Chelsey Beane is pictured near the home of a traditional healer in Andruvu Village, in the Arua District of Uganda.

This is the fourth in our ongoing “Fresh Voices From the Field” series, where we hear from ASPPH (Association of School and Programs of Public Health) Global Health Fellows working throughout the world. Global Health Fellows are recent Master of Public Health or Doctoral graduates placed in CDC global health offices in Atlanta and abroad. They work on a range of priority public health issues and bring a fresh perspective to CDC’s efforts in the field. (See other “Fresh Voices” blogs.)

 

Chelsey Beane, MSPH, ASPH Fellow

Chelsey Beane, MSPH, ASPH Fellow

Working at CDC headquarters in Atlanta is an amazing experience. And yet, sometimes, you can feel disconnected from the real world impact of the science that we spend all day discussing, refining, communicating, and implementing. So I was extremely grateful to have the opportunity recently to travel to Uganda to assist the CDC country team with preparation for a visit by CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

Although I had read the statistics, knew about our programs, and had become familiar with the major health issues in the country, I left impressed and humbled by what I experienced. I visited a rural village that had a recent outbreak of plague, where I met a small girl who had been diagnosed with diabetes, desperately in need of care and treatment, but miles from the nearest health facility. I was welcomed into the home of a family living in a tiny enclosed hut, filled with smoke from a cooking fire by which two toddlers quietly sat, and truly understood the urgent need for clean cookstoves. I saw people living in rural villages, without access to clean water. But I also saw how efforts by CDC and its partners are making a huge impact, not just for the health system as a whole, but for individuals whose lives have been changed. I saw the implementation of growing laboratory systems in the country, that are improving diagnoses of diseases, such as early infant diagnosis of HIV, and more accurate diagnosis for tuberculosis. I heard the story of a young woman who was raped and became infected with HIV, but who later had two children, both of whom were born healthy. I saw an eRanger, or motorcycle ambulance, rush into a maternal health clinic, carrying a pregnant woman whose delivery would be attended by skilled health workers.

Uganda Makes Impressive Progress on Health

Categories: global disease detection, global health security, health systems strengthening, HIV/AIDS, mosquito-borne disease, women's/maternal health

 

This blog was originally posted in the Huffington Post on August 8, 2013.

 

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden peers into Python Cave.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden peers into Python Cave.

Last month I was in Uganda. As I planned for this trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Uganda is the only country served by the president’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with a rising HIV incidence; I anticipated that there might be problems.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

What I saw instead was impressive progress.

Although Uganda will have challenges for many years as a result of increased HIV infections over the past decade, and has much more to do, I was struck by how much headway they’ve made in the past couple of years. The country has scaled up lifesaving anti-HIV treatment as well as voluntary medical male circumcisions, which sharply reduce the chance of becoming infected.

While in Uganda, I got to peer into a cave — the same cave where two tourists got Marburg virus in 2007. This deadly virus, similar to Ebola, was unknown in this location until identified by CDC staff.

This is Python Cave — and I was awed to see the python, which is at least 12 feet long and 24

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