What is the MDG5?

And how can you be involved in improving maternal health worldwide?

Feb 12 2014

Of all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), MDG5, or Improving maternal health, is critical for addressing other global health issues like child survival, extreme poverty and hunger. If Mom dies in childbirth or suffers severe complications, the entire family is in jeopardy. Kids may not be able to finish primary education in order to raise siblings. Mom may suffer from poor health and cannot maintain her job. Newborns lack a mother to nurture them in their first years of life.
The comprehensive report that I have been creating of a baseline study has proven to be a challenge and a great learning experience. I have learned how to use SPSS software more fully and gained a better understanding of application of biostatistics and epidemiologic concepts I learned in the classroom. Having to actually use information always brings a new level of understanding. I have called upon colleagues within my network at the ETSU College of Public Health to help me along the way. After finishing up some literature review for recommendations, my report will be ready to submit to the organization by February 14.
Day 1, Guatemala
I spent my first night in Guatemala City with Christian Aponte, director of CAFNIMA, my host organization. He helped me review the report I have been working on of the household survey data. We have been fine tuning it to be the most helpful to the organization and people. From there, I took a five-hour bus ride to Cobán and a two-hour truck ride to the Ulpán Valley.
Five years ago, Save the Children asked me to chair their Newborn and Child Survival Campaign. In 1990, over 12 million kids were dying every year; that is, over 33,000 children were dying every single day from preventable, treatable disease.

Today, the statistics have changed. We have almost cut that number in half. The goal for Millennium Development Goal #4 to reduce child mortality by 2/3 is within our grasp. The numbers show that almost 6.6 million children die per year, or about 18,000 children per day. The good news is that we are making progress.

Brad Paisley Harmony Award

Saturday night, December 14, Senator Bill Frist, MD, was honored to present Brad Paisley with the Harmony Award at the Nashville 29th annual Symphony Ball. This prestigious prize is given to someone who exemplifies musical excellence and serves the community by making a difference in people's lives.

Hope Through Healing Hands has had the privilege of working with Paisley on the Water=Hope Campaign, which provides clean water to communities in Haiti. Read more about the evening at TasteofCountry.com.

photo by Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

In 2000, Senator William H. Frist, MD, was a founding co-chair with then Senator John Kerry of the first bi-partisan task force on HIV/AIDS, which led to the creation of the groundbreaking PEPFAR plan and ultimately paved the way for the Global Fund, which is dedicated to fighting AIDS, TB, and malaria worldwide. Just a few weeks ago in Washington, DC, a group of international leaders met, including the President of the United States and Bill Gates, to rally financial support for the fourth replenishment of the Global Fund. Sec. Kerry acknowledge the crucial leadership role that Senator Frist provided in the early days of the fight against HIV/AIDS. 

J. Stephen Morrison and Katherine Bliss of the Global Health Policy Center wrote about this meeting and what it means for the global fund in "Refueling the Global Fund."

Gayle Smith CSIS

Since the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria's inception, the US has been a leader in supporting it, and will continue to do so in the future. But why? In this short video, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and a Senior Director at the National Security Council explains why the Global Fund is important to America and how we're working with other nations to make global health an even more important priority worldwide.

If you want to know more about Senator William H. Frist, MD's involvement on the board of CSIS, watch what he has to say about Health and our Common Humanity

Kate Etue is Director of Communications for Hope Through Healing Hands.

Marie is struggling today in the oppressive Haitian sun.

It's not that it's hotter than usual today, it's always hot here, but as the baby grows in Marie's womb, he takes the last of the nutrients out of Marie's already depleted body and today she feels it more than ever. She thinks of her other six children and remembers how hard their births were as she cried out on the dirt floor of her mud hut with only her sister to help her. She sees the faces of her two little ones that she laid to rest in that same dirt the year before.

(The Hill, May 28, 2013)

By Rep. Barbara Lee and Bill Frist

A Democratic Congresswoman and a former Republican Senator aren’t afforded many opportunities to work together. Especially at a time of fiscal crisis when every dollar is scrutinized and fought over, partisanship pushes us into opposite corners. But we agree on a program that truly has bipartisan support, saves millions of lives a year, and contributes directly to stability, security and economic growth worldwide.

Ten years ago this May, when the AIDS pandemic was at its worst, ravaging many African countries and a sure death sentence for millions, our country responded in an unprecedented way. We both, along with the late Republican Congressman Henry Hyde and the late Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos, worked with the Congressional Black Caucus and a bipartisan group of legislators to address this enormous problem. Soon after, in 2003, then-President George W. Bush instated PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, pledging $15 billion over five years to combat the spread of HIV, prevent further infections and improve access to care for millions of people across the globe.  Each year since then, Congress, with bipartisan support, has stood behind the program, providing critical funding to enable PEPFAR to truly help change the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic.

Now, a decade later, PEPFAR’s success isn’t just measured in dollars spent, but in lives saved and communities improved. The Institute of Medicine called the program “transformational” in global health.

PEPFAR has directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for nearly 5.1 million men, women and children around the world, and is helping prevent hundreds of thousands of mother-to-child transmissions, an essential step toward achieving an AIDS-free generation. Engaging women is crucial to the broader goal; about half of the people living with HIV worldwide are women, and their empowerment is critical to beating this disease. PEPFAR supported HIV testing and counseling for more than 11 million pregnant women in 2012 alone.

Because of PEPFAR, we’re not just working toward an AIDS-free generation, we’re achieving an AIDS-free generation.

All around the world, PEPFAR is caring both for the health of the individual and the health of communities. The medications and programs supported by PEPFAR are so effective that people living with HIV/AIDS are doing just that — living. Infected individuals can care for their families and hold jobs. Communities enjoy economic stability. The United States earns a positive reputation.

But we are at a tipping point to truly realize this vision. If we back away now, the gains we’ve made will evaporate; the success we’ve had will disappear. Support of PEPFAR now is as important as it was 10 years ago.

HIV is a virus, not an ideology. Democrats and Republicans should be proud of PEPFAR’s legacy and continue to support it moving forward, providing the program with the robust funding it still needs to help achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Lee serves on the House Committee on the Budget and the House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and is founding co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus and represents the United States on the United Nations’ Global Commission on HIV and the Law. Frist is adjunct professor of surgery at Vanderbilt and Meharry medical schools and former majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

(The Hill, May 22, 2013)

By Senator William H. Frist, M.D.

On June 8, the United Kingdom, under the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron, will host “Nutrition for Growth,” a high-level meeting where donor governments, including our own, will pledge funding and other commitments to address undernutrition and its devastating impact on the long-term health and productivity of millions of people in developing countries.

Sitting side by side with donors and foundations will be representatives of developing country governments, the private sector and civil society organizations, demonstrating the truly complex and multi-stakeholder nature of nutrition.

Malnutrition is one of the world’s most serious, yet least-addressed, development challenges. It contributes to almost 2.5 million young child deaths annually. Malnutrition is a serious drain on economic productivity, costing countries as much as 11 percent of GDP.

Close to 200 million children throughout the world are chronically malnourished and suffer from serious, often irreversible cognitive damage. Physically, undernourished children are stunted—smaller in stature than their well-nourished peers, more susceptible to illness throughout life, including noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and obesity.

The case for greater leadership and investments in global nutrition is clear. The Copenhagen Consensus, an expert panel of economists that includes several Nobel laureates, concluded that fighting malnutrition in young children should be the top priority investment for policymakers. In the group’s report, they stated that every $1 invested in nutrition generates as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity. Similar studies have found that undernutrition causes between $20 billion and $30 billion in additional health costs every year to treat the long-term consequences of early childhood malnutrition.

While the problem is complex, the solutions don’t need to be. Cost-effective, evidence-based solutions exist. What we need are the resources and the political commitment to scale up proven nutrition solutions.  Political commitment in the form of presidential leadership and bipartisan congressional support works. We have seen it in the Global Fund, the President’s Malaria Initiative, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

We can do it again — this time to scale up and align nutrition investments. To follow the proven PEPFAR model, we should target resources to benefit the most vulnerable; align resources across all agencies and programs; focus on countries where we have committed partners and country-led strategies; and coordinate efforts internationally.

UNICEF reports that 1 in 4 children under the age of five is stunted and 80 percent of those children live in just 14 countries. The Lancet’s series on maternal and child health and nutrition highlights the 1,000 days from the beginning of pregnancy to a child’s second birthday as the critical window of opportunity for human health and development.

Like PEPFAR, we can target our interventions to benefit those most vulnerable to undernutrition, namely pregnant women and young children. We have commitments from more than 30 countries, which as part of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement — a partnership of donors, developing countries, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector — have identified undernutrition as a severe impediment to economic development. A number of those countries have developed national nutrition plans that offer donors an opportunity to build upon and strengthen the country-led aspect of the investments.

We can begin by working with those committed country partners through bilateral and multilateral channels and offer our government’s technical expertise and best practices to galvanize a concrete investment strategy that includes innovative public and private partnerships and financing mechanisms.

There is an emerging international coordination effort for nutrition: the Nutrition for Growth event in London, last year’s G8 commitment to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the UK-led Hunger Summit of 2012 and the growing Scaling Up Nutrition movement. These efforts will help the United States to share with other donors the cost of alleviating this global problem.

This is a critical moment for the U.S. to lead on global nutrition. The June 8 summit in London is the perfect opportunity for the Obama administration to announce a bold global nutrition strategy that outlines a multifaceted and multi-year approach to better coordinate and integrate nutrition resources across sectors and agencies, with clearly defined goals and targets, and with the dedicated resources necessary to achieve the strategy’s stated goals. Bipartisan leaders in Congress must step forward and commit to working with the president to make global nutrition a top priority of U.S. development assistance.

The moment for turning the corner on global nutrition is here, and it is time for our elected leaders to demonstrate anew how American leadership is the driving force for building a healthier, safer and more prosperous world.

William H. Frist, M.D. is a nationally acclaimed heart transplant surgeon, former U.S. Senate majority leader, the chairman of Hope Through Healing Hands and Tennessee SCORE, professor of surgery and author of six books. Learn more about his work at BillFrist.com.

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