The EngenderHealth News Blog
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Maternal Health Task Force Announces New Grants

Innovative Maternal Health Projects to Inform National Policies

NEW YORK, July 22--The Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth announced today that it has awarded eight new grants supporting innovative maternal health research across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The research, which will be carried out by local organizations in developing countries, will lead to national policy recommendations for improving maternal health.

Each research project will evaluate an ongoing effort to advance maternal health in places where too many women still die from preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Examples of such projects include integrating maternal health care with HIV prevention and treatment, organizing support groups for pregnant mothers, and outfitting health workers in rural communities with cellular phones to facilitate emergency care for pregnant women. Following are summaries of the new grants:

In Bangladesh, scientists and nonscientists will collaborate at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) in translating new and existing knowledge about maternal health into proposals to improve government policies and practices. They will seek consensus on identifying key questions raised by three recent research programs, ensure access to the findings, reach out to national policymakers, and build ICDDR,B capacity and visibility for future work in knowledge translation.

In India, the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) will combat India's high maternal mortality and morbidity rates by demonstrating the value of integrating maternal health programs into HIV and AIDS programs. Using forums, workshops, and consultations, CEDPA will evaluate existing programs of the government's National Rural Health Mission, the National AIDS Control Programme, and the National Health Policy Administration in the Rajasthan area, to compile best practices and build consensus on a set of recommendations for policymakers.

In Malawi, the MaiMwana project will be a pilot effort to strengthen the current inadequate Maternal Death Review (MDR) system with a village-level program of maternal death audits. Kamuzu Central Hospital and the Mchinji District Hospital will support the formation of three-member MDR teams in each village to conduct a verbal autopsy (a structured interview) among relatives and neighbors within two days of every maternal death. Improved data will allow better analysis and service improvements and will contribute to recommendations to the Ministry of Health for a national audit procedure.

In Mexico, the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (CIESAS) is conducting an assessment of the Ministry of Health's Advanced Life Support for Obstetrics Program (ALSO), which manages delivery emergencies in Oaxaca. CIESAS will determine whether ALSO courses improve the technical skills and professional morale of health care providers enough to justify expanding the program nationwide.

In Peru, Future Generations, in partnership with the Peruvian Ministry of Health, will field test promising methods of reducing maternal and newborn mortality by organizing groups of pregnant women to share their pregnancy histories and experiences. In a controlled trial involving 500 pregnant women, health workers will guide the discussions, document benefits, develop a training manual and materials for possible nationwide use, hold workshops on the materials, and advocate for policy change.

In South Africa and Kenya, the mothers2mothers program, which offers education and emotional support to pregnant women and new mothers living with HIV, will field test "active client follow-up" to increase the number of HIV-positive pregnant women who return to a health care facility for care after an initial visit. In much of Africa, the return rate is low, posing a major obstacle to preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Mothers2mothers will use peer "mentor mothers" to send text messages or cell phone calls to previously contacted pregnant women to urge them to make return visits. Best practices will be collected for integration into the mothers2mothers standard model used continent-wide.

In Sri Lanka, the Department of Community Medicine at Rajarata University will work to improve the collection of data on the impact of maternal death and postpartum illness, a process that is now limited to hospital reports. University researchers will develop a survey questionnaire for field testing among a sample of expectant mothers in the resource-poor Anuradhapura District, where maternal mortality rates are high. Researchers will analyze the frequency and prevalence of health events and their direct and indirect economic impacts on families, to contribute to national service delivery planning.

In Tanzania, the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) will seek to improve emergency care for pregnant women and newborns by providing free cellular phones and business-related services for mid-level health care providers, to allow better communication with distant emergency obstetric specialists. Cooperating with district councils and a local telecommunications company IHI will evaluate the cost, feasibility, and implementation issues that arise if health workers at the district level have better access to long-distance counseling, faster referrals and resupply services, and emergency clinical support.

[See the original press release.]

EngenderHealth is a leading international reproductive health organization working to improve the quality of health care in the world's poorest communities. EngenderHealth empowers people to make informed choices about contraception, trains health care providers to make motherhood safer, promotes gender equity, enhances the quality of HIV and AIDS services, and advocates for positive policy change. The nonprofit organization works in partnership with governments, institutions, communities, and health care professionals in more than 20 countries around the world. For more information, visit

The Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth brings together existing maternal health initiatives and engages new organizations to facilitate global coordination of maternal health evidence, programs, and policies. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Maternal Health Task Force convenes stakeholders and creates an inclusive setting to engage in dialogue, build consensus, foster innovation, and share information. For more information, visit

Tim Thomas, Maternal Health Task Force/EngenderHealth

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

EngenderHealth joins the global health community in celebrating proof-of-concept of microbicides

At the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, there was standing ovation in a packed conference hall for the Caprisa 004 microbicide study. As the New York Times reports:

After two decades in which researchers searched fruitlessly for an effective vaginal microbicide to block H.I.V., South African scientists working in two AIDS-devastated communities of South Africa, one rural and one urban, say they have finally found something that shows real promise.

Women who used a vaginal microbicidal gel containing an antiretroviral medication widely used to treat AIDS, tenofovir, were 39 percent less likely over all to contract H.I.V. than those who used a placebo. Those who used the gel most regularly reduced their chances of infection 54 percent, according to a two-and-a-half year study of 889 women by Caprisa, a Durban-based AIDS research center.

Download the official press release (PDF, 168KB).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

EngenderHealth at the International AIDS Conference: Highlights

PEPFAR Gender Symposium: Practical Approaches for Integration with HIV and AIDS, featuring Dunstan Bishanga of EngenderHealth’s CHAMPION Project, and new (as of 1 September 2010) EngenderHealth President Pamela W. Barnes

Sunday, July 18
Mini Room 8
, 1:30–3:30 pm

EngenderHealth co-launches the new Global HIV Stigma Reduction Network

Wednesday, July 21
Mini Room 3, 6:30–8:30 pm

Leadership & Accountability Development Workshop: Scaling Up Key Programmes to Protect Human Rights, led by Paul Perchal, Director, HIV and STI program, EngenderHealth

Monday, July 19
Mini Room 1, 2:30–6:00 pm

The Language of Love: Tanzanian Women Define Intimacy, Sexuality, and Violence in the 21st Century, M. Leslie-Rule, EngenderHealth CHAMPION Project

Wednesday, July 21
Session Room 9, 2:30–4:00 pm

EngenderHealth will be featured in more than 25 sessions at the International AIDS Conference. Download our complete schedule of activities (PDF, 376KB).

EngenderHealth at the International AIDS Conference 2010

Beginning on Sunday, July 18, policymakers, scientists, program experts, persons living with HIV, and others committed to ending the AIDS pandemic will gather in Vienna, Austria, for AIDS 2010, the 18th International AIDS Conference. Visit us at Booth #418!

Paul Perchal, director of EngenderHealth’s HIV/STI Program, will be among the conference participants. Paul’s commitment to this field is in part the legacy of losing two of his closest friends to AIDS during the mid-1990s. Gearing up for the conference, the theme of which is “Rights Here, Right Now,” Paul offers his perspective on the upcoming week in this brief Q&A:

As we head into the conference, what do you see as the most vital issues facing the field?
Universal access to prevention, care and treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS, regardless of where they live, remains paramount. The economic crisis means that donors are rethinking their priorities, and that some of the gains we’ve made in recent years could be undermined. There’s also renewed focus on human rights, and increased recognition that in places where HIV stigma persists, people just aren’t getting tested. Likewise, pregnant women are not accessing care and treatment to prevent transmitting the virus to their newborns. We really need more effective strategies to reduce stigma and its effects.

Male circumcision is also receiving wide attention. It has been proven to reduce the risk of HIV transmission in men by up to 60%, and many governments are now introducing large-scale programs to make the procedure widely available. In Kenya, for example, the government is rapidly expanding services so that 1.1 million men can opt for the procedure by 2015. While not a panacea, male circumcision is an essential tool for HIV prevention that is currently not available to millions of men who want it.

How will EngenderHealth be represented at the conference?
EngenderHealth’s expertise in reducing HIV-related stigma, engaging men to prevent HIV in their relationships and communities, and preventing mother-to-child transmission, along with what we’re learning in our large-scale male circumcision program in Kenya, will be showcased through special satellite sessions, oral presentations, and more than 20 posters. I’m especially excited that we’ll be sharing the results of our safety study of the Shang Ring, an innovative male circumcision device.

What are you most looking forward to?
The International AIDS Conference is always an opportunity to be part of the conversation about the direction the field is going in. It’s also inspiring to learn the latest in technical and clinical breakthroughs, and to engage with young and emerging leaders. Of course, it’s also great to catch up with colleagues. The opportunity for an exchange of ideas around our innovative work and for collective problem-solving is really incomparable.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

EngenderHealth Names Pamela W. Barnes as New President/CEO

NEW YORK, JULY 6, 2010—EngenderHealth, a leading international reproductive health organization, has selected Pamela W. Barnes as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Barnes, former President/CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, will assume her new role on September 1.

“Pamela is a visionary leader who brings more than 30 years of experience in both private and nonprofit sectors to EngenderHealth,” said Brenda Drake, Board Chair. “After considering many extraordinary candidates from around the world, the Board Search Committee found the right CEO to lead this dynamic organization as it continues its vital work to improve the quality of health services and bring lasting change to more than 20 countries.”

Ms. Barnes served as President/CEO at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation since 2006, leading successful programs across 18 countries in Africa and Asia with more than 1,000 employees. During her tenure, Barnes significantly expanded the foundation’s program portfolio and budget, from $45 million in 2004 to $150 million in 2009. Prior to this position, Ms. Barnes was COO at the Foundation, where she managed the organization’s exponential growth and created new strategic partnerships with public and private donors.

“I am thrilled to be joining EngenderHealth and look forward to bringing a strong voice to advocate for the millions of women and families who want but still lack access to quality sexual and reproductive health services,” said Ms. Barnes. “I am wholly committed to advancing the mission of EngenderHealth and to working with our partners to strengthen health systems and improve the health and lives of those living in the world’s poorest communities.”

Ms. Barnes has also served as the Vice President of Finance and Administration at the International Trachoma Initiative and as Vice President of Operations and Finance for Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic in New York. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer and currently serves as co-leader of a global partnership addressing sexual violence against girls. Ms. Barnes also worked for more than 20 years in investment management and corporate finance, including stints as Assistant Treasurer of Corporate Finance at GTE and Assistant Treasurer at RCA.

Ms. Barnes holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, and a Master of Business Administration from Fordham University. She has published in peer-reviewed journals as well as in print and online media. Ms. Barnes is also a frequent lecturer and presenter at numerous professional, academic, and policy forums.

Until Ms. Barnes assumes her role as EngenderHealth President on September 1, Terrence Jezowski, EngenderHealth’s Vice President of External Relations, will serve as Interim President, starting July 19.

About EngenderHealth

EngenderHealth is a leading international reproductive health organization working to improve the quality of health care in the world’s poorest communities. EngenderHealth empowers people to make informed choices about contraception, trains health providers to make motherhood safer, promotes gender equity, enhances the quality of HIV and AIDS services, and advocates for positive policy change. The nonprofit organization works in partnership with governments, institutions, communities, and health care professionals in more than 20 countries around the world. For more information, visit

Theresa Kim