• K4Health Highlights

    Ruwaida Salem

    CCP | Associate Managing Editor, Global Health: Science and Practice

    K4Health eToolkits provide health policy makers, program managers, and service providers quick and easy access to an electronic library of relevant and reliable resources from a wide range of international and national health organizations on specific health topics. 

    K4Health is pleased to announce new features added to improve the usability of K4Health eToolkits.

    • Site Map. Automatically generated, the new Site Map includes on one page a list of all the tabs, subheadings, and resources included in the toolkit. For example, see the Community-Based Family Planning Toolkit Site Map. The Site Map link is next to the 'About' and 'Join the Discussion' links, to the right of the toolkit navigation tabs.
    • Last Updated. All toolkits now include a 'Last Updated' line in the footer to give users an indication of how up-to-date the toolkit is. For instance, see the footer of the Knowledge Management for Health and Development Toolkit.
    • Number of resources next to linked subheadings. The number of resources on a linked, down-level page is now displayed in parentheses after the link. This gives users an indicator of how many resources they can expect to find when they click on that link.
    • User ratings of toolkit resources. Toolkit users now have the ability to rate individual toolkit resources, based on a simple 5-star rating system. The ratings give other users a sign of how useful the resources are.

  • Kate Stence

    K4Health, CCP | Comm. Manager

    Earlier this year Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Yemen where she reunited with Nujood Ali, the first child bride in the country to get a divorce. Pictured here is also Shada Nasser, Nujood's attorney.

    In late July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the stage to speak at “Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development.” A joint effort of USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Government of Norway, Grand Challenges Canada, and the World Bank, the event called on the brightest researchers around the world to identify and scale up transformative prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in rural, low-resource settings around the time of birth.

    Clinton relayed how great the opportunity was to internationalize efforts and bring change through innovation. “We want to do development more effectively. That is our goal. We want to change systems. We want to deliver highest possible impact for every tax payer dollar we spend,” she said.

    According to Clinton, few challenges are as persistent or heartbreaking as the health of women and children. She cited WHO’s calculation that 2.6 million children are stillborn a year and that a woman living in Sub-Saharan Africa is 136 times more likely to die at childbirth than women elsewhere in the world.

  • K4Health Highlights

    Ruwaida Salem

    CCP | Associate Managing Editor, Global Health: Science and Practice

    K4Health is pleased to inform our partners who are developing eToolkits of new features in the eToolkit Application. These new features give toolkit developers the ability to customize the look and feel of their toolkits.

    The Toolkit Application, a knowledge management software tool developed by K4Health, allows public health professionals to develop online information repositories without the need for specialized IT skills. This easy-to-use Web-based software employs simple drop-down menus and fill-in forms to create the online interface. The resulting toolkits provide policy makers, program managers, and service providers quick and easy access to an electronic library of relevant and reliable resources, reviewed by technical experts, on a specific health topic. More than 80 projects and organizations have used the software to collaborate on 60 toolkits, with 42 launched and available to the public. The toolkits cover a range of topics, including contraceptive methods and family planning programming, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, gender, and mHealth.

  • Women of the World

    Rebecca Shore

    CCP | Program Officer II

    © 2005 Daren Trudeau, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Male involvement in family planning is not a new discovery to the field of public health, although often it is overlooked as a means of outreach. NPR highlights Nigeria’s struggle to involve men in family planning in its recent blog this week discussing the Society for Family Health’s mass media campaign targeted towards men and family planning. Though this program was seen as successful because men were more frequently accompanying their wives to the family planning clinic, there was skepticism whether women in Nigeria will use contraceptives and reduce the size of their families. A professor at Brown University, Daniel Smith, believes that Nigerians favor large extended families as a way to stay socially connected so it will be an uphill battle to reduce family size, even if there is an increase in contraceptive use.

    In Jordan, USAID’s male involvement in family planning and reproductive health program found that after six years of implementing the program, men were more likely to include their wives in decision-making and a higher percentage of the population was accurately informed about the different contraceptive methods. Prior to the beginning of the project, the use of modern family planning methods was limited because of husband opposition and religious and health concerns. Many societies have a patriarchal structure and without the approval of men, women have very little choice in their contraception. In a study in Cambodia where there was a high level of knowledge and accessibility to contraceptives, women were more likely to use contraceptive if they perceived their husband’s approval and if they felt there was an ease of communication between them.

    In other recent news, Ashley Judd, actress and activist, discussed the need for men to be active in family planning and their power in women’s reproductive health choices worldwide. Judd urged family planning programs in developing countries to involve men because of their significant influence over women’s reproductive health decisions. Male methods of contraceptives make up only 26% of contraceptive use globally: 12% withdrawal and abstinence, 7% vasectomy, and 7% condoms. Beyond men’s involvement in choosing to use male contraceptive methods of vasectomy or condoms, they should also be included in family planning discussions and counseling generally to encourage or facilitate a women’s contraceptive choice. Reproductive choices are imperative to a healthy pregnancy and healthy children. Involving men in these choices removes a common barrier to women’s use of family planning, which, in turn, empowers women and girls in all aspects of their lives.

  • Cassandra Mickish Gross

    CCP | Program Officer II

    UNICEF, WHO, and several other international organizations promoted breastfeeding this week in recognition of World Breastfeeding Week, but the decision to breastfeed a child becomes more complicated and controversial when the mother learns she has HIV. Can breastfeeding be safe and healthy when the mother is infected with HIV?

    In 2010, WHO released new guidelines on HIV and infant feeding, which can be found in K4Health’s recently updated Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) Toolkit. Although there are many similarities to the previous guidelines from 2006, the new guidelines focus on maximizing the likelihood of “HIV-free survival,” not just reduction of the likelihood of HIV transmission, in order to maximize the health and nutrition of the baby and mother as well as minimize the risk of HIV transmission. Depending on the circumstances, the nutritional and health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding may outweigh the risks of exposure to HIV in breast milk. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of diarrheal disease, malnutrition, and other common causes of child morbidity and mortality, which may pose a greater danger than the potential risk of HIV transmission through breast milk. New evidence also shows that treatment of the mother with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) significantly reduces the risk of transmitting HIV through breast milk.

    The new guidelines also focus on establishing national or sub-national recommendations so that health providers in a given area can consistently recommend either exclusive breastfeeding with ARVs or replacement feeding based on the resources available, access to ARVs, the cultural norms, HIV prevalence, and the common causes of infant and child morbidity and mortality. However, it is also recommended that providers inform mothers about their options and discuss the alternatives.

    The theme of this year’s breastfeeding week focuses on communication as an essential component of protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding. Communication between mothers, their families, and their health providers is necessary to ensure that families understand and can implement the provider’s recommendations for the infant feeding plan. 

  • Rebecca Shore

    CCP | Program Officer II

    With the world’s population growing, particularly in developing countries, breastfeeding is one of the most cost-effective and nutritious options for most mothers. From August 1–7, World Breastfeeding Week highlights breastfeeding as a contribution to women’s family planning. WHO states, "Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need." WHO also recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

  • Rebecca Shore

    CCP | Program Officer II

    Another month brings another exciting meeting of the mHealth Working Group, the collaborative forum established in 2009 to share and synthesize knowledge on mHealth, supported by Knowledge for Health (K4Health). This month’s meeting, hosted by John Snow Inc (JSI) in Rosslyn, Virginia, consisted of four presentations that all focused on a common theme: collaboration. While this is a consistent theme of the mHealth Working Group and has been since its inception, there seems a new and actionable energy behind it: coordination. The group now comprises more than 120 organizations and 400 individuals as members, so there is diverse knowledge exchange.

    This month’s meeting emphasis on collaboration and coordination reminded me of some basic ideas of public health programming: it is vital to collaborate with the appropriate stakeholders and include basic monitoring and evaluation in every aspect of program design and implementation. In September 1999, the MMWR through the CDC came out with a framework for program evaluation in Public Health, which highlights six basics of public health programming.

    1) Engage stakeholders

    2) Describe the program

    3) Focus the evaluation design

    4) Gather credible evidence

    5) Justify conclusions

    6) Ensure use and share lessons learned

  • Tara Sullivan

    CCP | Director

    Knowledge is a key component of health and development work. With knowledge, we can effectively and efficiently run our health programs, empower health care workers and program managers with the tools they need to do their jobs, and spark creativity and innovation. If properly managed and used, knowledge can have an impact on the quality of health services translating into better health outcomes. Rapidly putting the latest information and evidence into practice plays an important role in our global efforts to save lives.

    Many people mistakenly assume that knowledge management (KM) translates into increased use of technology. While technology can play an important role in managing knowledge, people actually play the most central role with processes that support the capture, synthesis, exchange, adaptation, and use of knowledge. These processes are often in play during scientific conferences, because people convene with the goal of sharing the latest information on a certain topic.

    The 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011) – which just wrapped up in Rome, Italy – provides a good example of the use of knowledge management practices to improve HIV prevention efforts. At this conference, approximately 5000 people had the opportunity to come together and exchange the latest research on HIV prevention. Leading up to the conference, scientists and other experts captured and synthesized knowledge and then shared it with others (conference attendees as well as those following online) through face to face interactions (presentations, hallway conversations, satellite sessions) , on the conference website (abstracts and ePosters), and through social media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). This conference – and others like it – offered an opportunity for the rapid exchange of the latest information, best practices, and lessons learned, that can then be put into practice once attendees return to work.

  • Kate Stence

    K4Health, CCP | Comm. Manager

    Today, July 11, commemorates World Population day, serving as a reminder of UNFPA's announcement that "by late October our world will hit a global population of seven billion people, with some of our poorest countries doubling in population within the next decade."

    According to a recent IPS article, the sharp increase in world population will have significant effects on the lives of women globally. "The rise in population is expected to have a devastating impact on some 215 million women who want -- but do not have -- access to quality reproductive health and family planning services."

    In fact, early data being gathered by the International Center for Research on Women shows a direct link between access to family planning and a rise in quality of life for females. "Initial analysis suggests that as fertility declines and contraceptive use increases, daughters become as valued as sons in traditionally patriarchal families, parents invest more in their daughters’ education and the gap between spouses’ ages and education narrows, which implies more equity in marital partnerships. If our early analyses are confirmed, we believe it will mean that improving access to voluntary, high quality family planning care can further contribute to a world where women are as educated, as financially stable and as valued as men."

    In honor of World Population day, Knowledge for Health continues to facilitate tools that will empower women through family planning. Recently, K4Health launched the Community-Based Access to Injectable Contraceptives eToolkit. According to Liz Futrell who spearheaded toolkit development, "one of the greatest strengths of the toolkit is that it addresses the specific needs of a multitude of users, including advocates, program managers, policy makers, and donors."

  • Women of the World

    Rebecca Shore

    CCP | Program Officer II

    Though women have overcome many obstacles, there are still grave inequalities between men and women throughout the world. Today, UN Women released their first flagship report showing why access to justice for women remains challenged.

    The 165 page document explores country’s rights through the lens of law, sharing "over 170 countries guarantee paid maternity leave. 139 constitutions guarantee gender quality. 125 countries outlaw domestic violence. 117 countries have equal pay laws. Ten to 30 percent is the average pay gap between men and women."

    In the United States alone, women comprise roughly half of the workforce and receive only 77 cents to every dollar a man makes, as shared by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. However, studies have found that those companies with more of a concentration of women in their board of directors or in upper management positions have a higher return on investment, equity, and sales. A 2010 report from the Joint Economic Committee cites, “A persistent gap not only cheats women and their families out of earnings they deserve, but artificially constrains the purchasing power of women and therefore hampers the American Economy as a whole.”

    USAID’s Gender, Equality and Women’s Empowerment has a particular focus on bridging the gap between men and women worldwide. In the West Bank, USAID is helping women enter into training programs previously not available to them such as cell phone servicing and auto repair. Allowing women into these programs starts a slow breakdown of gender norms and roles. By creating opportunities for these women to do more than just marry or be good wives, they become self-sustaining and feel empowered.