Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Global health, science and practice


Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL), a health systems strengthening approach based on the 3-delays model, aimed to reduce maternal and perinatal mortality in 6 districts in Zambia between 2012 and 2017. By 2016, the maternal mortality ratio in SMGL-supported districts declined by 41% compared to its level at the beginning of SMGL-from 480 to 284 deaths per 100,000 live births. The 10.5% annual reduction between the baseline and 2016 was about 4.5 times higher than the annual reduction rate for sub-Saharan Africa and about 2.6 times higher than the annual reduction estimated for Zambia as a whole.


Following the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in July 2014, UNICEF was asked to co-lead, in coordination with WHO and the ministries of health of affected countries, the communication and social mobilization component-which UNICEF refers to as communication for development (C4D)-of the Ebola response. For the first time in an emergency setting, C4D was formally incorporated into each country’s national response, alongside more typical components such as supplies and logistics, surveillance, and clinical care. This article describes the lessons learned about social mobilization and community engagement in the emergency response to the Ebola outbreak, with a particular focus on UNICEF’s C4D work in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The lessons emerged through an assessment conducted by UNICEF using 4 methods: a literature review of key documents, meeting reports, and other articles; structured discussions conducted in June 2015 and October 2015 with UNICEF and civil society experts; an electronic survey, launched in October and November 2015, with staff from government, the UN, or any partner organization who worked on Ebola (N = 53); and key informant interviews (N = 5). After triangulating the findings from all data sources, we distilled lessons under 7 major domains: (1) strategy and decentralization: develop a comprehensive C4D strategy with communities at the center and decentralized programming to facilitate flexibility and adaptation to the local context; (2) coordination: establish C4D leadership with the necessary authority to coordinate between partners and enforce use of standard operating procedures as a central coordination and quality assurance tool; (3) entering and engaging communities: invest in key communication channels (such as radio) and trusted local community members; (4) messaging: adapt messages and strategies continually as patterns of the epidemic change over time; (5) partnerships: invest in strategic partnerships with community, religious leaders, journalists, radio stations, and partner organizations; (6) capacity building: support a network of local and international professionals with capacity for C4D who can be deployed rapidly; (7) data and performance monitoring: establish clear C4D process and impact indicators and strive for real-time data analysis and rapid feedback to communities and authorities to inform decision making. Ultimately, communication, community engagement, and social mobilization need to be formally placed within the global humanitarian response architecture with proper funding to effectively support future public health emergencies, which are as much a social as a health phenomenon.

Concepts: Public health, Epidemiology, Development, Liberia, United Nations, Sierra Leone, Communication, World Health Organization


Oxygen therapy is an essential medicine and core component of effective hospital systems. However, many hospitals in low- and middle-income countries lack reliable oxygen access-a deficiency highlighted and exacerbated by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Oxygen access can be challenged by equipment that is low quality and poorly maintained, lack of clinical and technical training and protocols, and deficiencies in local infrastructure and policy environment. We share learnings from 2 decades of oxygen systems work with hospitals in Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions, highlighting practical actions that hospitals can take to immediately expand oxygen access. These include strategies to: (1) improve pulse oximetry and oxygen use, (2) support biomedical engineers to optimize existing oxygen supplies, and (3) expand on existing oxygen systems with robust equipment and smart design. We make all our resources freely available for use and local adaptation.


As the current COVID-19 pandemic illustrates, not all hospitals and other patient care facilities are equipped with enough personal protective equipment to meet the demand in a crisis. Health care workers around the world use filtering facepiece respirators to protect themselves and their patients, yet during this global pandemic they are forced to reuse what are intended to be single-use masks. This poses a significant risk to these health care workers along with the people they are trying to protect. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) has been validated previously as a method to effectively decontaminate these masks between use. However, not all facilities have access to the expensive commercial ultraviolet type C (UV-C) lamp decontamination equipment required for UVGI. UV-C bulbs are sitting idle in biosafety cabinets at universities and research facilities around the world that have been shuttered to slow the spread of COVID-19. These bulbs may also be available in existing medical centers where infectious diseases are commonly treated. We developed a method to modify existing light fixtures or create custom light fixtures that are compatible with new or existing UV-C bulbs. This system is scalable; can be created for less than US$50, on site and at the point of need; and leverages resources that are currently untapped and sitting unused in public and private research facilities during the pandemic. The freely accessible design can be easily modified for use around the world. Health care facilities can obtain this potentially lifesaving UVGI resource with minimal funds by collaborating with research facilities to obtain the UV-C meters and UV-C bulbs if they are unavailable from other sources. Although mask reuse is not ideal, we must do what we can in emergency situations to protect our health care workers responding to the pandemic and the communities they serve.


In 2017, of the 22.5 million parenting adolescents (ages 15-19) in 60 countries, approximately 4.1 million gave birth to a second or higher-order child. Adolescent pregnancy in general, and rapid repeat pregnancies specifically, expose young mothers and their children to multiple health and socioeconomic risks. The purpose of this article is to review the impact of interventions designed to prevent unintended, rapid repeat pregnancies among adolescents, including those aimed at changing norms to postpone “intended” closely spaced pregnancies to promote healthy spacing.

Concepts: Multiple birth, Pregnancy over age 50, Hazard prevention, Abortion, Childhood, Childbirth, Adolescence, Pregnancy


Based on the established protective effect of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) in reducing female-to-male HIV transmission, Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) embarked on the scale-up of VMMC services in 2009. The Maternal and Child Health Integrated Project (MCHIP) supported the MOHSW to roll out VMMC services in Iringa and Njombe, 2 regions of Tanzania with among the highest HIV and lowest circumcision prevalence. With ambitious targets of reaching 264,990 males aged 10-34 years with VMMC in 5 years, efficient and innovative program approaches were necessary.

Concepts: Male, Tanzania, Human, Gender, Circumcision, Regions of Tanzania, Iringa Region, HIV


In Bihar, India, coverage of essential health and nutrition interventions is low. These interventions are provided by 2 national programs-the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Health/National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)-through Anganwadi workers (AWWs) and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), respectively. Little is known, however, about factors that predict effective service delivery by these frontline workers (FLWs) or receipt of services by households. This study examined the predictors of use of 4 services: (1) immunization information and services, (2) food supplements, (3) pregnancy care information, and (4) general nutrition information.

Concepts: Developmental psychology, Household, Laborer, Nutrition, Family, Feminism, Milk, Health


Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world. Poor health outcomes are linked to weak health infrastructure, barriers to service access, and consequent low rates of service utilization. In the northern state of Jigawa, a pilot study was conducted to explore the feasibility of deploying resident female Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) to rural areas to provide essential maternal, newborn, and child health services.

Concepts: Public health, Health, Massachusetts, Medicine, Healthcare, Health care provider, Health care


Ending preventable maternal and newborn deaths remains a global health imperative under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal targets 3.1 and 3.2. Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) was designed in 2011 within the Global Health Initiative as a public-private partnership between the U.S. government, Merck for Mothers, Every Mother Counts, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the government of Norway, and Project C.U.R.E. SMGL’s initial aim was to dramatically reduce maternal mortality in low-resource, high-burden sub-Saharan African countries. SMGL used a district health systems strengthening approach combining both supply- and demand-side interventions to address the 3 key delays to accessing effective maternity care in a timely manner: delays in seeking, reaching, and receiving quality obstetric services.


In April 2014, a national school-based human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program was rolled out in South Africa, targeting Grade 4 girls aged ≥9 years. A bivalent HPV vaccine with a 2-dose (6 months apart) schedule was used. At the request of the National Department of Health (NDoH), we conducted an external assessment of the first-dose phase of the vaccination program to evaluate program coverage and vaccine safety and identify factors that influenced implementation.