UK Aid to Education for Children with Disabilities: Parliamentary Debate

Mark Williams MP at a school in Tanzania as part of a delegation RESULTS organised in November 2013

Mark Williams MP at a school in Tanzania as part of a delegation RESULTS organised in November 2013

It’s been a great year for UK aid to education and support of children with disabilities. In June, DFID pledged up to £300 million to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) over the next four years, which RESULTS UK grassroots groups campaigned hard to deliver. Also in June, the government released its response to the International Development Select Committee’s report on Disability and Development, with largely positive overtones. The response included commitments to publishing a new ‘Disability Framework’ later this year, and that the UK will advocate globally for the “no one left behind” principle to be central to the new Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. These, among other notable steps mean the UK could potentially be poised to become a world leader on the inclusion of people with disabilities in aid and development programmes.

In continuation of this progress, this week in our capacity of providing the secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Education for All we supported the Chair of the APPG Mark Williams MP to table a debate in Parliament on this issue. Entitled ‘UK aid to education for children and young people with disabilities’, the debated offered an opportunity for cross-party discussion of DFID’s commitment to inclusive education and how to tackle the exclusion of children with disabilities from education in developing countries. You can watch the full debate here. Speakers included Mark Williams MP and David Blunkett MP, both of whom spoke with grassroots volunteers at the RESULTS UK National Conference, sharing their passion for global education for all. These speakers were joined by Pat Glass MP and Shadow Development Minister Alison McGovern MP, and the debate was answered by Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Tom Brake MP.

The speakers continually cited four main areas that require DFID’s attention: data, DFID staff expertise, teacher training, and total inclusivity. The first of these issues relates to the need for comprehensive, disaggregated and current data on disability and education to develop DFID’s understanding of the challenges faced. Mark Williams MP described the lack of data as a “major barrier,” calling what little information exists often “speculative and out of date.” This in turn leads to a lack of international clarity and difficulty measuring outcomes. Pat Glass MP made the powerful statement in this last regard that “the bottom line is, what gets measured gets done.”

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A Little Known Success Story: UK support for the EDCTP

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Last week saw UK Parliamentarians gather with leading UK and international scientists and research managers to celebrate a seldom mentioned initiative: the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

Laura Boughey, Health Advocacy Co-ordinator at RESULTS UK, profiles how EDCTP is a brilliant example of co-operation and investment by donor and developing country partners that has brought incredible rewards for both.

Every year, over four million lives are wasted due to just three diseases: HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Worse, these diseases impact the poorest people around the world hardest, holding back communities as they fight to live healthy and productive lives. EDCTP was formed in 2003 to accelerate the development of new and improved tools in the fight against these global killer diseases, so it was fitting that last week’s event in Parliament for EDCTP was chaired by Baroness Suttie, a Member of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on TB, whose inquiry and recently released report Dying for a Cure examines the barriers and opportunities to better research and development (R&D) in the fight against these diseases.

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Better diagnostics, treatments and vaccines are needed to control and eradicate killer diseases such as HIV, TB and Malaria

In the case of HIV/AIDS, our best efforts to scale up treatment have pushed us to a tipping point where, with new tools, we could win this fight. This would mean stopping the 2.3m new cases every year and the 1.6 million lives lost at the moment, and supporting the world’s 35million HIV positive people. For TB, of the 9 million people who will contract it every year, 3 million will not receive the correct diagnosis and treatment for their condition, and 1.5 million people will die from TB every year. We desperately need new tools to fight both the disease and the challenge posed by drug resistant strains, which at the moment requires drugs that cause disabling and permanent side effects including nerve pain, blindness and hearing loss.

Dr Mark Palmer, Chair of the EDCTP General Assembly (and UK representative to EDCTP as Director of International Strategy for the UK Medical Research Council) started off last week’s event. We heard how since its inception as a public-private partnership, EDCTP has brought together 16 European countries, 30 sub-Saharan African countries and 259 research institutions from across the world. It has seen 65 calls for proposals generate 246 projects worth over €380 million – split between work on HIV/AIDS (64 grants), Malaria (41 grants), TB (34 grants) and non-disease specific work, such as ethics strengthening (107 grants).

Half of the beauty of EDCTP is its co-ordination. An initial lack of studies progressing promising concepts from laboratory and small scale tests (Pre- and Phase I trials) to testing for safety and efficacy with large numbers of volunteers (Phase II and III) has been rectified through EDCTP’s commissioning. Such co-operation also ensures duplication can be avoided and knowledge is shared, and has seen potential products moved closer to registration and the final goal of bringing products to market.

Clinician using state of the art technology for point-of-care TB diagnoses

Clinician using state of the art technology for point-of-care TB diagnoses

Numerous successes have included HIV treatment guidelines and fixed dose formulations for weight-banded children, and the acceptance of microbicides (products absorbed via the vagina or rectum) as effective methods. Other studies have shown the MVVC malaria vaccine to be safe and efficacious, and have allowed the control of malaria in pregnancy; and for TB, trials of REMoxTB have confirmed the safety of moxifloxacin for use, and allowed the evaluation of simple, cheap point-of-care diagnostics.

The second secret of EDCTP’s success is its focus on the long term; prioritising African capacity-building and South-South collaboration, and pushing for an effective – and therefore global – response to global health issues.

World class clinics built through EDCTP in Khaylatia (Cape Town, S.Africa)

World class clinics built through EDCTP in Khayelitsha (Cape Town, S.Africa)

EDCTP has created world-class research facilities across Africa, which will generate value far beyond the specific trials for which they were created. We heard from Professor Helen McShane, Principal Investigator at the Oxford Martin Programme on Vaccines at Oxford University, whose team is now undertaking data analysis on results from a TB vaccine trial among 650 HIV-positive volunteers over two sites in Khayelitsha (Cape Town) and Dakar. Her pride was evident in the fact that both of these sites now house clinical grade laboratories and trained staff.

Team Meeting at Chu Le Dentec, Dakar

Team photo at Chu Le Dentec, Dakar

Professor Charles Mgone, Executive Director of EDCTP, talked about the four Regional Networks of Excellence (NoE) spanning each of Central, East, West and Southern Africa and involving 64 institutions across 21 countries. The NoE scheme has now offered training to 1,000 African researchers, and has leveraged an additional €24m to upgrade infrastructure and laboratories, strengthen ethics bodies and south-south collaboration, and respond to local needs. EDCTP has directly trained 406 African PhDs or MScs, and 56 African Senior and Career Fellowships; over 40% of these candidates have been female. 28% of EDCTP Project Leaders have been female – an impressive achievement in an African clinical research context in 2014, and a strong basis for continuing championing of women African scientists.

Some may ask whether HIV, TB or Malaria should concern the UK; again, one needs only to look to the future. In the medium term, tackling diseases in emerging economies matters when the UK’s population is increasingly linked to theirs through trade, travel and tourism. And in the longer term, a healthy, productive world will provide greater stability and opportunities for prosperity for the UK. For developing countries, the role of donor countries here is less one of crutch as of catalyst; every $1 invested by donors into TB treatment for example generates a $30 return for households and governments seeking to escape crippling healthcare costs and lost productivity. Investing in global health R&D is investing in future global prosperity.

Back in the UK, EDCTP is already saving the NHS money in the long-run and impacting on the prevalence of disease, as technologies such as the GeneXpert rapid TB diagnosis machine, and ARV treatments for children, are implemented in UK hospitals and clinics. Such products will also help control the threat of drug-resistance in the UK, as new tools make completing treatment much less painful and difficult.

Ongoing volunteer recruitment as part of EDCTP trials

Ongoing volunteer recruitment as part of EDCTP trials

The UK Government is by far the leading funder of EDCTP, providing €214 million to 82 projects during the first phase, involving 100 UK collaborators. (Our contributions break down as €31.2m in direct ‘cash’ contributions through the MRC and DfID, plus €182.8m of indirect, ‘in kind’ contributions of facilities and expertise; this puts us ahead of Italy on €115m, the Netherlands on €87m, and Germany on €76m.) The UK is also the only country to link so closely the work of our Medical Research Council (MRC) and Department for International Development (DfID). During the next phase, the MRC and DfID have already agreed to jointly commit €4.5m in cash and £40m in kind every year, totalling €445m over the next ten years.

It is crucial that the UK maintain its leading role in EDCTP, not only to fund this vital work but also to bring other European countries closer to our own commitment level. Running from 2014 to 2023, EDCTP2 aims to raise €1.3 billion to take on further challenges: research into neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and other common killer diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, and emerging infections such as Ebola. Under Horizon 2020, the European Commission’s €80bn research and innovation framework, EDCTP2 will also expand to cover all clinical trial phases including implementation, and bring sub-Saharan African partners into the General Assembly.

The UK’s leadership of EDCTP further cements our role as a worldwide leader on global health and in the wider Post2015 development discussions. The consensus at the event unsurprisingly held that the UK Government should continue to recognise EDCTP as a key investment with proven success and, as the leading funder and Chair of the Parliamentary Assembly, should encourage other states to increase their cash contributions to EDCTP. Insightful questions from Baroness Barker of the APPG HIV reminded us of the need to ensure that any new products reach the market at a cost that is accessible to the citizens of developing countries (an issue explored in the APPG HIV’s soon to be released report). And RESULTS UK’s Steve Lewis both thanked and laid down the challenge for UK Parliamentarians and citizens – to maintain your support for the UK’s leadership in Global Health R&D, and see these incredible products reach the market and the people who need them.

For more information on RESULTS UK’s work to support citizens and Parliamentarians to champion Global Health R&D, please contact:

Laura Boughey, UK Health Advocacy Co-ordinator laura.boughey@results.org.uk

Bruce Warwick, EU Health Advocacy Officer bruce.warwich@results.org.uk

Felix Jakens, Grassroots Campaigns Manager felix.jakens@results.org.uk

 

Progress report on Norfolk paralympians Amy Conroy and Danny Nobbs

Last year, Mark and Ann -Marie from the Norwich group had the amazing opportunity to meet with Paralympic athletes Amy Conroy and Danny Nobbs to discuss the groups work on inclusive education. This guest blog post from the group discusses the athletes recent progress and successes.  

Last year we were lucky enough to meet two Norfolk Paralympians, Amy Conroy and Danny Nobbs, who have both supported RESULTS UK to campaign on Inclusive Education for People with Disabilities by writing letters, signing petitions and tweeting.

As both have been in competition this year, we thought we would update you all on their progress.

Wheelchair basketballer Amy Conroy competes at the 2012 Paralympic games.

Wheelchair basketball star Amy Conroy competes at the 2012 Paralympic games in London.

Amy is a GB Wheelchair Basketball player and represented Team GB at this year’s World Championships in Toronto and also in the recent International Series versus The Netherlands on National Paralympian Day at the Copper Box in the Olympic Park. The World Championships were a successful tournament for both Amy and the team, as the GB Women’s wheelchair basketball team made history after they finished 5th overall – their highest ever placing.

In August, Amy was also involved in the International series, as the GB Women’s team took on the Netherlands. The Netherlands won the series 3-0, but the GB Team pushed the Dutch all the way, especially in the final game which finished 54-50 to the Dutch , with Amy top scoring with 28 points, on National Paralympic Day 2014 (30th August) at the Copper Box.

During these Tournaments, Amy has had to fit in her studies during her second year at Loughborough University – which is a testament to her desire and determination.

As for Danny, this has also been an incredible and exciting year. Danny competed in the shot putt at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but saw his dream of competing at London 2012 ended after changes to the rules for his throwing frame meant UK Athletics dropped him from their Elite funding programme and he did not get selected for Team GB.

Then following 2012, determined to regain his place, Danny found out that his event had been dropped for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. So he decided to switch to a new throwing discipline, the Javelin.

DANNY NOBBS PHOTO 2014

In the past year he has been training hard to improve his technique and set a personal best, and new British Record, of 22.92 metres at the BWAA Grand Prix in Stoke Mandeville in June.

Following his achievements and hard work during the year, Danny was overjoyed to be selected for Team GB at this summer’s IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea.

It was the first time Danny, had represented Great Britain since the World Championships 2011 – which is testament to Danny`s determination to succeed despite setbacks. In the event, Danny finished 5th, which is an incredible achievement considering he has only been throwing the javelin for a year.

Danny juggles his training and competitions with working at Aviva in Norwich and he is also an Ambassador for the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation and for Disabled Sport.

Both Amy and Danny are a credit to themselves and their sport. With continued improvement, we hope they both improve and excel in their sports, as they bid to qualify for Rio 2016, which is now less than two years away.

Latest Global Tuberculosis Report: TB Greater Threat Than Previously Thought

RESULTS UK is deeply concerned today at the release of the 2014 World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report  that reports several hundred thousand more cases of TB and deaths than was previously thought to be the case. We encourage the UK Government to increase their political and financial commitment to fight this disease in Europe and worldwide.

With 9 million new cases of TB and 1.5 million deaths from the disease in 2013, the new data reveals that the global threat of TB is greater than previously thought. Alarmingly, it is now estimated that TB deaths in the WHO African Region for 2013 are 44% higher than the previously published estimate for 2012,

RESULTS’ Executive Director Aaron Oxley said: “When it comes to TB it is a case of the more we look the more we find. With new health emergencies like Ebola rightly grabbing headlines, tuberculosis has been a slow burning public health emergency for decades. It is clear from this latest data that governments worldwide, including the UK, need to bring urgency and renewed purpose to dramatically increase funding and resources to control TB and save millions of lives”.

These resources really are necessary. It is estimated that there is at least a $US2 billion annual gap in funding for TB globally. By filling this financing gap fundamental challenges, such as infection control in healthcare settings or laboratory capacity, that act as major barriers to effective TB care and control could be addressed.

Alarmingly, the WHO report highlights that multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) continues to represent a major global threat. Almost half a million people were estimated to have MDR-TB in 2013, although only 136,000 received official diagnosis. Of those who did receive care for MDR-TB less than half successfully complete their treatment. These figures dramatically illustrate the serious need for increased investments into research and development (R&D) for new TB treatments. Currently, a course of treatment for MDR-TB can last over one and a half years and the treatment is often accompanied by horrific side effects. Adequate investment into R&D for TB could help save many more lives.

Tuberculosis and drug-resistant forms of the disease are a worldwide problem. RESULTS UK is especially concerned to learn that the European Region has the highest burden of MDR-TB worldwide being home to 15 of the 27 high MDR-TB burden countries. Moreover, the treatment success rate in the European Region remains lower than that of other WHO regions.

Coordinator of the TB Europe Coalition, Fanny Voitzwinkler said: “It is deeply shocking that in one of the richer parts of the world, many countries are still struggling to contain MDR-TB. The European Union and Member states must immediately step up their political response to this alarming tragedy before it spirals completely out of control”.

RESULTS UK is calling on the UK Government, as a historic leader in global health, to ensure that it provides adequate financing and resources to address this global public health emergency. It is also paramount that the UK uses its leadership position to encourage other countries to do the same.

The Hidden Face Of Hunger

Anushree Shiroor, from RESULTS nutrition team, assesses new figures released this week on the number of hungry people in the world. But hidden hunger is another issue that needs increased attention.

Working with UNICEF gave me the opportunity to visit several rural communities. I spent a lot of time interacting with women, children, and grass root health functionaries, to understand health and nutrition services offered and their uptake. One of these was red coloured tablets which were commonly known to ‘help make blood in the body’. The functionaries, Anganwadi workers and ASHAs, repeatedly explained the importance of these red tablets, i.e. Iron and Folic Acid (IFA), to pregnant and lactating women, and adolescent girls. They also counselled them on dietary intake of green leafy vegetables and other iron rich sources.

Credit: Sanjit Das/Panos/RESULTS UK

Credit: Sanjit Das/Panos/RESULTS UK

So, why is this so important?

Today, on World Food Day, we note the descending trend of absolute hunger in the world. Figures in the new  Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report released this week show that chronic undernourishment due to hunger has fallen from 842 million in 2013 to 805 million people. But hidden hunger is a great reason to worry.

  • Over 2 billion people suffer from ‘hidden hunger’– deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals, otherwise known as micronutrients. One in two pregnant women in developing countries is anaemic. This results in adverse birth outcomes including contributing to the 20% rate of maternal deaths in these countries1. Infants born to anaemic mothers are mostly underweight, most likely to be anaemic, and at high risk of varying degrees of physical and cognitive impairment.
  • Globally, 40% of children under the age of five are anaemic. Iron deficiency is the most important cause of anaemia.
  • Diarrhoeal disease is the second largest killer of children under the age of five. Zinc deficiency exacerbates the frequency and duration of diarrhoeal episodes.
  • Nearly 18 million babies are born with brain damage due to iodine deficiency every year.

We call this hunger ‘hidden’, as it does not manifest as the palpable starved, wasted, or pot-bellied image of undernutrition. Physical manifestations may appear only at later stages (for example, blindness in young children due to Vitamin-A deficiency), but irreversible impairment to immunity, growth and development sets in at early stages.

One of the main causes of hidden hunger is poor diet – not just an absolute lack of food. Consuming only one or two types of food (often staple foods which are not rich in a variety of nutrients), is an inadequately diverse diet. Such diets cannot provide vital micronutrients in the required amounts.

Other causes of hidden hunger include infections such as diarrhoea which result in rapid nutrient loss from the body, and worm infestations which prevent absorption of nutrients from the food. Poor sanitation and hygiene environments and practices are commonly responsible for such conditions.

Women and young children are most vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies and their consequences, due to higher nutrient requirements, and their often neglected status. Hidden hunger is responsible for about one third of child deaths due to undernutrition, which itself underlies around 45% of global child mortality.

Hidden hunger has massive health and economic costs for individuals and countries alike. Children with micronutrient deficiencies are unable to achieve their full growth potential, and suffer from frequent episodes of infections. Their educational achievements are compromised, and they also have reduced work productivity as adults. This perpetuates the inter-generational cycle of poverty, undernutrition, and disease. This ultimately also hinders economic growth. Micronutrient deficiencies are estimated to cost developing countries between 0.7 and 2% of their GDP every year.

The importance of those red IFA tablets cannot be emphasised enough! As Lawrence Haddad, expressed at the launch of the GHI report, “Most malnutrition is hidden. Micronutrient malnutrition is cloaked in invisibility”. We have a lot to achieve in addressing hidden hunger.

References:

  1. The World Health Organisation
  2. The Global Hunger Index report

Recording of October conference call now available

We are pleased to announce that a recording of our October conference call is now available for download. Click here to listen again.

We were joined on the call by Lorriann Robinson, Policy and Advocacy Manager at the ONE campaign. The call was the launch of our ‘Vaccinate the World’ campaign which is seeking to mobilise global support for Gavi, the vaccine alliance, as it looks to provide life-saving immunisations for millions of children around the world.

So, click here to listen to the call, click here to take our online action, or read up on our offline campaigning for month by clicking here.

HIV Prevention – Making it Happen

amsterdam (1)

Laura Boughey is Health Advocacy Co-ordinator at RESULTS UK for IAVI. To get in touch please email laura.boughey@results.org.uk

Many of those working in the field of HIV prevention recently gathered in Amsterdam for the 2014 Partners Meeting of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the International Partnership of Microbicides (IPM). This two-day meeting brought together scientific researchers and experts from product development partnerships (PDP) such as IAVI, with advocates from all over the world.

As an HIV prevention advocate, I’m no scientist. So it’s a testament to the skill of our partners that I came away from Amsterdam with a much better understanding of how HIV prevention research is going. Day one began with Dr Phil Bergin of the Human Immunology Laboratory in London updating us on the latest clinical trials of potential HIV vaccines using ‘broadly neutralising antibodies’. Later in the day, we heard from Mitchell Warner of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), on developments across vaccine candidates and a wide range of other HIV prevention products such as microbicides (which are inserted into the vagina or rectum, and can be gels, rings or films), male and female condoms, oral and injectable drugs, surgical procedures such as male circumcision, and treatment-as-prevention (TAP). On day two we heard from IPM’s Sharyn Tenn and Leonard Solai on the exciting clinical trials currently taking place to determine the efficacy of a microbicide ring that women can chose to wear, which secretes an antiviral drug providing protection against HIV.

Crucially, the consensus was that we need a ‘suite’ of HIV prevention products that work in different circumstances and contexts, and to ensure adequate support is in place for each stage of the development process: from fundamental research, to trials, demonstration and finally ‘scale-up’. Some of the most interesting discussions focused on understanding local contexts and finding the right product, dose and campaign for the right population. This is as true for research as it is for health services, where participants’ adherence to using a product is a key factor in being able to evaluate its efficacy. Adherence and participation can be affected by many things, but it a strong finding is that participants really value the chance to help protect future generations, along with the higher standard of case received in trial clinics.

Each product in the suite of prevention tools is urgently required – no more so than an HIV vaccine. IAVI’s Hester Kuipers presented incredible new work modelling what impact may come from products in the future. Underlying it all is the central message that an HIV vaccine is needed to get ‘close to zero’, even with full scale up of HIV treatment activity. The modelling went as far as estimating what a vaccine should cost in different countries if it was to be cost-effective, and the savings it would make – a very useful resource for advocates and parliamentarians trying to influence funding decisions.

Gethwana Mahlase, speaker at the IAVI Partners Meeting

Gethwana Mahlase, speaker at the IAVI Partners Meeting

Discussions were punctuated by inputs and breakout sessions allowing advocates in donor countries to share ideas with practionners in partner countries, such as from Dr Pamela Njuguna of the Kenya Medical Women’s Association, and South African HIV nurse Gethwana Mahlase (watch her incredible story as an HIV advocate here). Conversations carried on over dinner both days – when I was fascinated to hear, for example, that UN-branded, freely distributed condoms are often stigmatised, in favour of more expensive Durex-branded ones.

The next steps for the HIV prevention community as always are to ensure funding is available so that the results of vaccine trials, or the ‘roll out’ and marketing plans in development by IPM for their microbicide ring, do not sit gathering dust. This is a hugely exciting time for HIV prevention research, and yet the challenge remains of securing funding when many products will become available over years and decades, rather than tomorrow. The job of advocates like myself is to communicate just how important it is that both donor and developing countries make this commitment now, to develop the HIV prevention products of the future.

The arguments are clear: an effective vaccine could bring new HIV infections down from 2.3 million a year to ‘close to zero’, saving up to $100 billion in treatment costs in its first ten years, and saving over a million lives a year. New HIV prevention methods will allow women for the first time to take control of their exposure to HIV. Prevention tools will help ensure all can access their right to health, and the ability to contribute to the security of their family and the growth of their country. The research to bring such products about is already generating jobs in donor and partner countries, and creating world-class research facilities, for example in East Africa.

As we build up to World AIDS Day on 1st December, RESULTS UK is calling on UK decision-makers to support the work of research initiatives such as IAVI. It is through the leadership of governments all around the world that one day we will no longer need a World AIDS Day – and it will be because of their support for HIV prevention research.

Progress is fast, but not fast enough: Taking stock of progress on Women’s and Child health

In the fourth blog from his series focusing on the UN General Assembly in New York, Steve Lewis reports on progress on Women and Children’s health in the last year.

It was impressive to find a room-full of global health leaders at 8.30am on a Sunday morning, meeting to discuss progress on health indicators. The presence of a welcoming breakfast was a clever inducement to attend on time. The other attraction was a range of high level speakers, such as Dr Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Amina Mohammed, the UN special advisor on the Post-2015 Development Framework.

Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organisation

Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organisation. “The Ebola crisis reminds us once again of the key need for strong health systems in all countries.”

The session, organised by The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) described the progress around global Woman’s and Child Health as ‘mixed’. There are both disappointments and room for optimism in terms of achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 – to reduce child and maternal mortality, respectively. The positive news is that the number of children dying each year continues to fall. The new figures show that the number of children dying every year dropped from 6.6 million (in 2012) to 6.3 million in 2013. The annual rate of reduction is faster than ever before (tripling since the early 1990’s)[1]. However, the negative news is that these MDGs are unlikely to be met on time – lagging furthest behind of all the MDG targets.

In 2000, world leaders set the target of reducing child mortality by two-thirds from 1990 level to 2015 deadline, and also aimed to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters. These were ambitious targets, but considered to be achievable.  Now, one year away from the deadline, we see that unless the current rate of progress is sharply increased, they will certainly not be achieved.

More positively, financial support for maternal and child health continues to increase, with both donor funding and domestic expenditures increasing in the areas of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH)[2]. Speaking on behalf of the PMNCH, Dr Carole Presern, the director, said that “progress has accelerated in recent years, suggesting that further gains are possible with continued, intensified actions”[3]. So despite missed milestones to date, progress continues at an increasing rate.

Richard Horton speaks on accountability. "Ours is the first generation who have the chance to end preventable child deaths"

Richard Horton speaks on accountability. “Ours is the first generation who have the chance to end preventable child deaths.”

Richard Horton from The Lancet had the challenging task of presenting the PMNCH accountability report. To summarise, there are three key areas that now need to be the focus of work on maternal and child health.

Firstly, there remain “massive inequalities in intervention coverage and health outcomes,” as the hardest to reach continue to be left behind [4]. Secondly, partners must scale up the most cost-effective, highest impact interventions, such as vaccines and treatments against pneumonia and diarrhoea. Ms Anuradha Gupta from GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance, therefore emphasised the key importance of the GAVI funding replenishment conference to be held in Berlin in January. Finally, data must be collected to ensure every stakeholder is accountable, including donors, recipient countries and international partners.

Amina Mohammed assured the meeting that Women's and Child health will remain as integral parts of the Post-2015 Development framework.

Amina Mohammed assured the meeting that Women’s and Child health will remain integral to the Post-2015 Development framework.

Participants seemed confident that these three things together will continue the accelerated progress we see now on maternal and child health.  In this way we will ensure MDG’s 4 and 5 are achieved as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

Photo credits – Steve Lewis. Research – Anja Nielsen. Opinions given are those of the author and not necessarily those of RESULTS UK. See previous blogs for news of other sessions  from the week of UN General Assembly.

[1] Committing to Child Survival: A Promised Renewed” 2014 Report - http://files.unicef.org/publications/files/APR_2014_web_15Sept14.pdf

[2] Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Accountability Report, p. 5.

[3] Countdown to 2015 and beyond: fulfilling the health agenda for women and children, p. 1.

[4] Countdown to 2015 and beyond: fulfilling the health agenda for women and children, p. 1.

Tell the UK Government to Give Big to Gavi! Join our October Conference Call

Amazing progress has been made between 1980 and 2013: the percentage of immunised children worldwide grew from 20% to 84%. This equates to millions of lives saved and is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the number of children dying every year has more than halved in this period.

Vaccines are one of the most powerful and cost-effective interventions, providing lifelong protection from diseases and saving between 2 and 3 million lives around the globe every year.

However, it is a huge tragedy that every year, 21.8 million children don’t have access to even the most basic vaccines. This means that 1 in 5 children, nearly exclusively from the poorest socio-economic backgrounds and most remote communities, are missing out on life-saving interventions. This is the highest degree of health inequality; and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is working hard to ensure all children can enjoy the benefits of vaccines.

At the current rate of progress, Millennium Development Goal 4 (“Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate”) is unlikely to be met until 2026. It is therefore increasingly important that we step up our investment in vaccines for all children – given the impact they have on saving lives. We can do this by supporting Gavi’s work, asking the UK Government to continue their leadership for the next period 2016-2020.

UK Civil Society is requesting a £1.2 billion contribution from the UK, which would result in the immunisation of an additional 85 million and save 1.5 million lives. The UK is currently Gavi’s biggest donor, providing nearly a third of its finances, and this needs to continue. A significant, early pledge would encourage other donors to step up and save the lives of millions of children!

We will be discussing the importance of vaccinations and the actions grassroots volunteers can take to encourage UK investment on our monthly conference call, on Tuesday 7th October at 8pm.

To join the call, you can call 0844 762 0762, 0203 398 1398 or 0800 22 90 900 and when prompted enter 18723#. If you would like to join your local RESULTS Group in your area for the meetings, please email  Felix at RESULTS.

Learn more about GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and check out our infographic here:

Action Sheet: Save 1.5 million lives – Securing the UK’s commitment to Gavi
Background Sheet 1: Gavi - Frequently asked questions; and what is equity?
Background Sheet 2: Amazing Gavi infographic

We look forward to having lots of you join us in this push for replenishment!

Event: In Celebration of UK Support for the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)

Tuesday 21st October 2014, 6-7pm

House of Commons, Committee Room 2

Please join us to celebrate the achievements of UK support for the European and Developing Counties Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

Every year, over four million lives are wasted due to just three diseases – HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB), and Malaria. These diseases impact the poorest people around the world hardest, holding back communities as they fight to live healthy and productive lives. In the case of HIV/AIDS, our best efforts to scale up treatment have pushed us to a tipping point where, with new tools, we could win this fight. For TB, we desperately need new tools to fight both the disease and the challenge posed by drug resistant strains.

EDCTP was established in 2003 to accelerate the development of new or improved tools against HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria and – with substantial UK support – has contributed to a significant progression in this work. The EDCTP partnership unites countries in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, pooling resources and skills to effectively co-ordinate and implement clinical research.

As the leading investor in EDCTP, the UK has established a leading role in facilitating innovative R&D for global health. Since 2003, EDCTP achievements include supporting eight improved medical treatments, carrying out 100 clinical trials and training more than 500 African researchers. UK researchers and institutions have collaborated on 82 EDCTP projects to date. These projects benefit the UK through improved research capacity and public health gains and also build capacity and results worldwide.

This panel event will bring together experts and parliamentarians to showcase the role of innovative partnerships in Research and Development (R&D) for Poverty-Related and Neglected Diseases (PRNDs) and discuss how the UK is supporting pioneering approaches to investment in global health R&D. The event will also provide an opportunity to discuss these benefits of effective partnership between European and sub-Saharan African countries in the context of EDCTP achievements.

Speakers:

  • Dr Mark Palmer, Chair of the EEIG-EDCTP General Assembly and UK representative as Director of International Strategy for the Medical Research Council.
  • Professor Charles Mgone,Executive Director of EDCTP
  • Chaired by Baroness Suttie, Liberal Democrat Peer and Member of the APPG on TB
  • Professor Helen McShane, Principal Investigator, Oxford Martin Programme on Vaccines, Oxford University

Presentations will be followed by a Q&A session to allow discussion between those in attendance and the panel.

Please RSVP to bruce.warwick@results.org.uk

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