The EngenderHealth News Blog
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spotlight on Ghana: President Obama Visits EngenderHealth Training Site

Richard Killian, QHP's Chief of Party, sits with colleagues at a booth during President and Mrs. Obama’s visit to La General Hospital
Richard Killian, Chief of Party for Quality Health Partners (managed by EngenderHealth) sits with colleagues at an information booth during President and Mrs. Obama’s visit to La General Hospital.

President Obama greets Richard Killian and other EngenderHealth staff at their information booth.
President Obama greets Richard Killian and other EngenderHealth staff at the information booth.

During his visit to Ghana, President Obama traveled to La General Hospital in Accra, where EngenderHealth trains health providers from across the country to provide high-quality family planning services. While at the hospital, the President and the First Lady stopped by an information booth, met a few of our staff who spoke about the importance of family planning, and learned more about our programs across the country.

EngenderHealth has worked in Ghana for more than 20 years to expand contraceptive use, improve health outcomes, and make lasting positive changes in the Ghanaian public health system. Currently, EngenderHealth collaborates with the local government to reduce maternal deaths, by ensuring that clients can prevent unwanted pregnancies and can choose from a wide range of family planning services, including long-acting and permanent methods. Other initiatives include expanding prevention and treatment services for HIV and reducing related stigma. Indeed, we work with all levels of the health system—from doctors to midwives to policymakers—to improve the quality of health care.

During his visit, President Obama spoke passionately about the need to address poor maternal health. “Part of the reason this is so important is throughout Africa the rates of both infant mortality, but also maternal mortality, [are] still far too high—I mean by a factor of a multiple of 10s compared to many other parts of the world,” the President said. The kinds of programs that provide strong prenatal and maternal care, he said, “are very important.” President Obama’s comments, along with proposed funding increases in next year’s budget, signal his commitment to global maternal and child health, as well as to reproductive health and family planning.

Meeting several mothers and their babies at the clinic, President Obama noted, “This is the highlight of the trip.”

Read more information about EngenderHealth’s activities in Ghana.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fragile, Threatened, and Still Urgently Needed: Family Planning Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

EngenderHealth staff Dr. Roy Jacobstein, Lynn Bakamjian, John M. Pile, and Jane Wickstrom published a commentary on the fragility of family planning programs in Africa in the current issue of Studies in Family Planning.

Congress Moves to Boost Funding for Global Health Priorities

Recent actions in Congress show growing momentum and support for maternal and child health and family planning, with historic funding increases proposed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Equally significant, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment offered by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) to legislatively eliminate the Global Gag Rule.

Both the House and Senate called for increased funding for global health in the foreign aid budget for fiscal year (FY) 2010. The House already passed a bill allocating $528 million for maternal and child programs and $648.5 million for family planning, an increase of $100 million for family planning over enacted levels in FY2009.

On the Senate side, a spending bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee now awaits a vote by the full Senate. It calls for $628.5 million for family planning and reproductive health programs—$83.5 million above the FY2009 level and $35 million above President Obama’s request. In addition, a total of $555 million for child survival and maternal health was allocated—$31.5 million above President Obama’s request and $60 million above the FY2009 level.

Senator Lautenberg’s amendment to the spending bill would stop the 25-year-long back-and-forth over the Global Gag Rule, with successive presidents instituting and then repealing the policy. Lautenberg proposed an amendment that would prevent a future president from reinstating the policy by executive order.

“It is time to end the dangerous and harmful Global Gag Rule permanently. Health care providers across the globe should be able to care for the health of women and families, without ideological obstacles blocking the way. This amendment will strengthen America’s position as an international leader for women’s rights,” said Lautenberg.

Both houses of Congress are on August recess, but when returning in September, the Senate will be taking up appropriations for foreign aid. Write your senators today and ask them to vote yes and show their support for these global health priorities.

Following the Senate vote, both the bills will go to conference, and the allocations will be finalized. EngenderHealth will keep you informed of new developments.

EngenderHealth Announces New Board Leadership and Appointments

August 11, 2009, NEW YORK—EngenderHealth is pleased to announce new appointments on our Board of Directors. Brenda J. Drake, a Board member since 2003, is now Chair, taking the helm from Stasia Obremskey—who is stepping down from the Board. Dr. George F. Brown, a director since 2006, will serve as Chair of the Executive Committee, and Francine Coeytaux, who formerly held this position, is now Vice Chair of the Board. EngenderHealth also welcomes two new members: Dr. Julio Frenk and Dr. Supanya Lamsam.

Brenda DrakeBrenda J. Drake is Director of the Public Health Trust in Oakland, California. Ms. Drake practiced corporate law for 15 years before entering the philanthropic sector and joining the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund. During her 10 years at the Fund, she developed and implemented programs in population, reproductive health and rights, services for the elderly, low-income community organizing, and social justice for incarcerated men, women, and youth. Ms. Drake also served as Interim Executive Director for the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. Ms. Drake is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

Dr. George F. BrownDr. George F. Brown, Senior Consultant in Reproductive Health for The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was Vice President, International Programs, at the Population Council for more than two decades. Dr. Brown expanded the Council’s work to more than 50 countries. Under his leadership, new research programs were created in gender and development, HIV and AIDS, and maternal mortality. He also served as Special Advisor in Population to the President of the Canadian International Development Agency and as Director, Health Equity, for the Rockefeller Foundation. Dr. Brown received his medical degree from the University of Toronto and a Master’s in Public Health from Harvard University.

The two new Board members, Dr. Julio Frenk and Dr. Supanya Lamsam, also bring extensive expertise in global health. “We are thrilled to have these two new, internationally recognized leaders joining our dedicated Board,” said Ana Langer. “I am personally very much looking forward to working with them.”

Dr. Julio FrenkDr. Julio Frenk is the new Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health. He served as Mexico’s Minister of Health from 2000 to 2006, leading a ground-breaking and internationally recognized effort to transform the national insurance and public health system. During his 25-year career, Dr. Frenk has been a Senior Fellow of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program and held executive positions at the World Health Organization and the Mexican Health Foundation. Dr. Frenk holds a medical degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, as well as a Master’s in Public Health and a joint doctorate in Medical Care Organization and Sociology from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Supanya LamsamDr. Supanya Lamsam is a biomedically trained scientist with 20 years of experience in HIV and AIDS policy, fundraising, program management, and evaluation. As the Founding Executive Director of the Thailand Business Coalition on AIDS, she co-created an innovative program to provide financial incentives to reward companies that implement HIV and AIDS prevention and nondiscrimination programs. She also held senior positions at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and the Population and Community Development Association in Thailand. Dr. Lamsam has a Ph.D. in molecular parasitology and a B.Sc. in Biology from the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine in the United Kingdom.

Friday, August 7, 2009

G8 Leaders Commit to Improving Maternal and Child Health

The Group of 8 (G8) leaders stepped up their commitment to reducing maternal and child deaths at last month’s summit in Italy. Their final declaration calls for a global consensus on maternal, newborn, and child health, citing the importance of community leadership and engagement in these health areas, of the removal of barriers to all women’s and children’s access to services, of skilled health workers, and of accountability for results. EngenderHealth joins the public health community in welcoming this new pledge and calls on world leaders to ensure that they follow their words with action.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mobilizing around Long-Acting and Permanent Methods

On June 23, the RESPOND Project and the U.S. Agency for International Development launched a “Community of Practice” on long-acting and permanent methods of contraception. Held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the event brought together 75 representatives from a wide range of agencies, organizations, foundations, and pharmaceutical companies. Participants shared the latest data on methods, as well as their experiences in implementing programs. Moving forward, the Community of Practice will provide a forum for various individuals to work together, address common issues, and identify sound approaches. For more information, please contact