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MLI Newsletter - July 26th 2011

July 26, 2011

Lire l'ILM Voices en français.

New York Times on Sierra Leone: 'New hope' for children and women

Making global headlines, Sierra Leone was the focus of a news story appearing in last week's New York Times, "In Sierra Leone, New Hope for Children and Pregnant Women." Reporter Adam Nossiter writes about the impact free health care for pregnant and lactating women and children under 5 has had in knocking down the substantial barrier to delivering babies: the high cost of care. Since the initiative was launched a year ago, there has been a 61% decrease in mortality rates in pregnancy cases at health clinics as women no longer have to pay out of pocket for assistance. It is also driving more women to give birth at health clinics, Nossiter said, "Women at the clinics said they felt safer, having traded risky home births for at least some medical care."

Challenges remain, especially in human resources. Minister of Health and Sanitation Zainab Bangura was quoted saying the country has only four gynecologists and two pediatricians for the population of 5 million. However, it cannot be disputed that lives are being saved as the Ministry works towards building a health system that has been ravaged by civil war. This news, John Donnelly writes in MLI's Leading Global Health blog, is refreshing as it includes reporting that has not been seen for many years from there: "Giving voice to people who now feel the government is working to try to save lives."


Daff on the Hill

Dr. Bocar Mamadou Daff, Director of Reproductive Health in Senegal's Ministry of Health and Prevention and close MLI collaborator, was in Washington, D.C. in June to discuss the importance of U.S. government support for family planning, particularly in West Africa. Dr. Daff, along with Pape A. Gaye, the president and CEO of IntraHealth, met with several key aides to US Senators and congressmen. In MLI's Leading Global Health blog, Dr. Daff shared some of his Capitol Hill message: "I want to reaffirm what Senegal is in the process of doing. We know our problems. These are linked to the provision of services, but it's also an issue of demand for services. We need to define strategies to address these problems and address where the gaps are." These gaps, Dr. Daff said, are evident in the way information on the importance of family planning is communicated to the population, as well as in the limited number of trained health workers available to correctly deliver family planning services. Gaye reaffirmed Dr. Daff's statements by acknowledging that "Family planning may be one of the best bargains in the world when it comes to investments in health" and offered a challenge to the US to continue to play a catalytic role in revitalizing family planning in West Africa.


Mali holds trainings inspired by peer-learning in Senegal and Nepal

Two of Mali's top officials in the Planning and Statistics Unit, which works closely with the Ministries of Health, Social Development and Women's Affairs, recently organized a training on leadership development and negotiations. Representatives from each of the three ministries participated in the weeklong training which incorporated curriculum from past MLI supported peer-learning trips to Senegal and Nepal. Last year, Dr. Salif Samaké, Director of the Planning and Statistics Unit, attended the MLI sponsored Nepal negotiations workshop and was able to share what he had learned with his own colleagues in a facilitated session on negotiations. Similarly, Dr. Issa Berthe, focal point for the International Health Partnership Compact (IHP) and Public-Private Partnerships, attended Senegal's leadership training also sponsored by MLI in July 2010 and was able to apply his knowledge to significantly contribute to the design of Mali's own tailored training. Following the training, leadership development has been incorporated as an important priority in Mali's new 10 year health and social development plan.

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