After Mexico City and Before Copenhagen: Keeping Our Promise to Mothers and Newborns

first_img ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on April 28, 2016October 12, 2016By: Kayla McGowan, Project Coordinator, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Six months after the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference (GMNHC) held in Mexico City last October and just weeks before the Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen, leaders in maternal and newborn health gathered for a policy dialogue to review priorities, evaluate progress, and reignite efforts in the maternal newborn health field. The April 13 event, “After Mexico City and Before Copenhagen: Keeping Our Promise to Mothers and Newborns,” was part of the Maternal Health Task Force’s Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health Series, in partnership with UNFPA and the Wilson Center. It served as a reflection of the lessons learned at GMNHC as well as preparation for achieving the maternal newborn health agenda through an advocacy lens at Women Deliver. As Katja Iversen, Chief Executive Officer of Women Deliver, projected, “The Women Deliver Conference will focus on solutions: what works, what can be scaled up, and what can we go home and do?”With the recent launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which target a reduction in the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, and the end of preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age by 2030, now is the time to decide which steps we need to take to achieve these objectives. Despite strides in maternal mortality reduction, the maternal and newborn health community must remain ardent in its commitment to mothers and newborns. As Mariam Claeson, Director of Maternal and Newborn Child Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, articulated:“[Targets like the SDGs] hold all of us accountable for making progress. That’s why we need numbers and rates, and we need to ask the questions, ‘Are we making a difference in poor communities? Are we actually making any changes in quality improvement?’”While we set the agenda for improving maternal and newborn health, we must consider where our efforts will be most efficient and effective. During the dialogue, Claeson cited a recent review of key findings on cost-effective health interventions for reducing maternal, newborn and child deaths, and stillbirths. According to Claeson, “One of the most important investments that financers can make is in the quality of labor and delivery.” Claeson explained that better labor and delivery offers a quadruple return on investment, including reduced rates of maternal mortality, newborn mortality, stillbirth, and disability.Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Assistant Administrator of Global Health at the United States Agency for International Development, continued the conversation on the importance of investing in maternal and newborn health. He praised the innovative global financing facility, launched to increase private-sector resources in maternal, adolescent, and child health, as the “missing piece in the maternal child health space.” Pablos-Méndez described the platform as “country-powered partnerships, public and private, in which the World Bank … is set up with trust funds to bring the countries themselves, the Ministers of Finance, to put skin in the game.” He emphasized that the maternal newborn health community must support other countries in becoming autonomous in their maternal child health initiatives. According to Pablos-Méndez,“As we project growth in many of these countries, we want to borrow from the future to save lives now, have countries own their own programs, and instead of sending proposals, develop joint investment cases at the country-level that are fully aligned with the national health plans and priorities of those countries.”Peter Waiswa, Lecturer in the Department of Health Policy, Planning and Management at Uganda’s Makerere University School of Public Health, echoed the importance of retaining efforts at the country-level: “If we are to achieve the [SDG] targets, countries have to lead… Measurement alone is not enough, the data must be able to be used; first at the local level, and then at the national level.”While Pablos-Méndez commended GMNHC for catalyzing efforts among country partners to end preventable maternal and child deaths, other presenters illustrated the conference’s immediate impact by providing examples of post-GMNHC policy changes and program implementation. For example, as a direct result of lessons learned at the conference, policy makers in India were able to introduce a new approach to training providers on reducing preterm birth risks. According to Jyoti Benawri, State Program Manager of Jhpiego, “We have been able to push the government to introduce one entire chapter in our curriculum on how to prevent neonatal mortality and how to introduce antenatal corticosteroids.”Speakers also offered renewed insight on the GMNHC themes of equity, quality and integration of maternal newborn health care. A central theme of the dialogue was the importance of data in planning and implementing effective programs and strategies. However, while crucial, data can conceal inequities. As such, Waiswa called for disaggregation and context-specific indices within health measures.  He stressed the importance of reviewing data by geography, age groups, and socioeconomic status while acknowledging the inherent challenges in this more nuanced approach, such as income levels that fluctuate with harvest seasons.The dialogue centered on the importance of delivering quality care to mothers and newborns. As presenters agreed, one way to expedite quality care is to ensure policymakers, leaders, the media, and women themselves can understand and act on technical evidence. Unfortunately, this type of information is often understood by an exclusive few. According to Catherine Mwesigwa Kizza, Deputy Director of New Vision in Uganda, “Many times, evidence is gathered and it remains with the technocrats… it’s never interpreted.” When research is broken down and translated into language that policymakers and local leaders can understand, they can spur action themselves. Furthermore, this can spark change at the individual level: when women are aware of certain danger signs in pregnancy or know what to expect at a health facility, they can demand quality services.Data has a strong influence on delivering quality care. Waiswa explained, “Using data to drive quality improvement, to drive audits, and to drive lobbying for staff… has been able to reduce maternal death in hospitals in Uganda by about 18% and neonatal deaths by about 20%.” But we must steer away from relying solely on data; we must maintain an approach that balances both data and quality measures. For example, according to Claeson, “It’s not about counting how many times a mother interacts with antenatal services or comes to the facility, but it’s what happens in these encounters that matters.”Finally, the dialogue highlighted the importance of collaboration and integration. Ana Langer, Director of the Women and Health Initiative and Maternal Health Task Force at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, urged the community to unite in reaching the SDGs:“We advocate for better integration: integration of strategies, integration of services, integration of funding streams. We cannot afford working in silos any longer; it’s detrimental for mothers, babies, families, and communities in general.”To focus the community’s efforts to achieve the SDGs, Langer presented the Momentum for Maternal Newborn Health poster, a roadmap of ten critical actions stemming from GMNHC. The next steps serve as key reminders and responsibilities for the maternal and newborn health community, including maintaining focus on vulnerable populations, sharing both successes and failures, and ensuring access to respectful care. With the SDGs, the maternal newborn health community’s attention must go beyond mortality; we must also focus on morbidities, stillbirths, and child development. As Langer said, “We don’t just want people to survive, but we also want them to thrive.”Photo Credit: After Mexico City, courtesy of the Wilson Center Maternal Health InitiativeShare this:last_img read more

BP Plans Alaska Layoffs

first_imgBP plans to cut its Alaska workforce by 17 percent by early next year.The oil company announced on Monday that it will reduce its staff by 275 employees and full-time contractors to match a “reduced operational footprint” in the state. BP will offer early retirement and severance packages to employees who choose to take a buyout option.Spokesperson Dawn Patience attributes the layoffs to the sale of four North Slope assets to Hilcorp, a smaller oil company with a growing presence in Alaska. The deal, which was announced in April, includes the Endicott and Northstar fields, along with 50 percent interest in the Milne Point and Liberty fields. BP is transferring 200 field workers to Hilcorp as a result of the agreement, in addition to the 275 support staff they plan to lay off.Patience describes the 275 positions as “overhead” that is no longer needed with a smaller presence on the North Slope. She says the company intends to focus more on oil production in Prudhoe Bay and development of a natural gas megaproject. “BP’s operations may be shrinking in Alaska, but we announced $1 billion of additional investment in Prudhoe Bay, and the addition of two rigs –- one this year and one the year after — and those commitments stand,” says Patience.BP informed Hilcorp of their additional staff cuts on Monday, after they told employees. Hilcorp spokesperson Lori Nelson says the BP announcement was unexpected because only 250 employees were directly associated with the purchased assets and Hilcorp agreed to absorb most of them.“The number today was a bit of a surprise, but that’s BP’s decision,” says Nelson.The layoff announcement arrives less than a month after Alaskans narrowly voted to maintain a capped tax rate on oil production. As one of the three major players on the North Slope, BP contributed nearly $4 million to fight the ballot referendum on Senate Bill 21.Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat who advocated for repeal of Senate Bill 21, calls the BP’s announcement “disturbing.” He notes it comes just as fellow North Slope producer Exxon is projecting a continued decline in oil production in Alaska.“We were promised a lot of things during the [Senate Bill 21] debate, and one of the most powerful things was jobs,” says Wielechowski. “And here we are, a couple weeks after the people of Alaska voted on this, thinking they were going to get a lot more jobs [and] thinking they were going to get a lot more production. And we’ve already had sworn testimony by Exxon that we’re getting less production and then we’ve got BP saying they’re laying off hundreds of Alaskans and contractors.”Wielechowski also finds the timing of BP’s announcement “suspect.”“Had the referendum passed, they probably would have blamed these layoffs on the referendum passing,” says Wielechowski.In a press release, Gov. Sean Parnell also stated he “extremely disappointed” by the announcement, and noted that oil and gas employment in the state was otherwise strong with 15,000 working for the industry.last_img read more

Microsoft is introducing a new service that combin

first_imgMicrosoft is introducing a new service that combines its Azure Rights Management (Azure RMS) and technology from its acquisition of Secure Islands. The Microsoft Azure Information Protection service is designed to give enterprises a new solution to protect employee identity, and to secure and manage devices, apps, and data.“Organizations must protect their data at the source in a world where information travels beyond the boundary of the corporate network and potentially across many devices outside of company control,” wrote Dan Plastina, partner director of information protection at Microsoft, in a blog post. “These realities make it more critical than ever to have solutions that prevent data loss and track information at the file level regardless of where data resides or with whom it is shared.”In addition, Azure Information Protection provides the ability to classify, label and protect data; persistent protection; safe sharing; intuitive controls; visibility and control over shared data; and deployment and management flexibility.The public preview is expected to be made available next month.Android N will try to avoid unforeseen crashesGoogle wants to help protect and improve the stability of Android N apps. The company revealed it will restrict certain libraries developers C/C++ code can link against in order to protect their applications from crashes. Android N apps that use private symbols from the libraries will have to update to public NDK APIs or include a copy of the library.“We’re making this change because it’s painful for users when their apps stop working after a platform update,” wrote Dimitry Ivanov and Elliott Hughes, software engineers for Google, in a blog post. “Whether they blame the app developer or the platform, everybody loses. Users should have a consistent app experience across updates, and developers shouldn’t have to make emergency app updates to handle platform changes. For that reason, we recommend against using private C/C++ symbols.”CA Technologies updates CA Unified Infrastructure ManagementCA Technologies wants to help organizations optimize the performance of their modern, dynamic infrastructures with new capabilities and improvements to its monitoring and management solution. The latest release of CA Unified Infrastructure Management (CA UIM) features support for performance monitoring of Docker containers, support for more than 140 on-premises and cloud technologies, service-centric and unified analytics capabilities, and easy-to-use templates for configuring monitors.“Adopting a variety of cloud and dynamic infrastructures are a necessity in today’s application economy, but cost efficiencies and agility offered by these technologies are lost when operations staff have to learn and use multiple monitoring tools to identify potential performance issues,” said Ali Siddiqui, general manager of agile operations at CA Technologies. “By providing insight across the performance of all of an organization’s IT resources in a single and unified view, CA UIM gives users the power to choose the right mix of modern cloud-enablement technologies that can best support new endeavors that can contribute to business growth.” Apple adds new coding camp for kidsAs a way to inspire more children to learn how to code, Apple has added a new summer camp to its Apple Camp program for 2016.Apple Camp is a free three-day program for kids ages eight to 12. The new program is called “Coding Games and Programming Robots,” and it will help kids learn the basics of coding.With this camp, kids will learn visual block-based coding for games; applying logic skills like pattern recognition and problem solving; and they will be able to use what they learned to make their own robots.Registration for this new camp is open now, and there are a limited number of spots per camp.Opera releases Labs build for AndroidOpera has released a Labs build of Opera for Android with support for two experimental features designed to enhance the discoverability and use of progressive web apps.Opera has been exploring the idea of having a button in the URL bar that appears whenever a person lands on a progressive web app, which they can tap to save it to a home screen. Opera is previewing an early version of this idea in this Labs build.When a user loads a site that passes the criteria to qualify as a progressive web app, a small phone icon is shown to the left of the URL bar, labeling it as such, according to Opera. People can check out one of the sites listed on and let Opera know how it works.Opera has also been exploring the idea of surfacing URLs by requiring users to long-press anywhere in the web app and show it in the context menu, but it turned out to be more difficult than expected, said the company. It then focused on connecting it to the “pulls—refresh” spinner as a secondary gesture to the left or right.These are early proposals that may or may not be included in the final Opera build for Android, said the company.last_img read more