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Friday, July 24, 2009

PPD ARO Newsletter, Number 2 (1 April 2009 to 30 June 2009)

The purpose of this report is to detail the main activities that PPD ARO was able to carry out during the second quarter of 2009.

PPD ARO has been able to undertake several activities to deliver on its mission. The activities that were carried out can be summarized as follows:

1- Workshop to develop and adopt the Strategic Plan for Parliamentary Committees on Health, HIV, Child Welfare and Population in East and Southern Africa (SEAPACOH)
During the month of March 2009, PPD ARO held a workshop for the steering committee members of the parliamentary committees on Health, HIV, Child Welfare and Population in East and Southern Africa (SEAPACOH) to develop and adopt its Strategic Plan. The workshop was held on April 6-9 and was attended by 22 participants (both steering committee members and technocrats). The output of the workshop was a SEAPACOH Strategic Plan (2009 – 2013) that would guide SEAPACOH’s work as well as its resource mobilization efforts.

Through a participatory process, SEAPACOH formulated its strategic direction and articulated the Alliance’s priority areas of business focus and strategic interventions during the period 2009-2013. The three main areas of focus identified include:
• Ensuring needs-based resourcing of the health sector
• Ensuring effective domestication, implementation and compliance with agreed upon commitments in the health sector by governments, and
• Ensuring sustainability of the Alliance
The Alliance would work in close collaboration amongst its members as well as other partners at national, regional and international level to address specific objectives focusing on attainment of the goal of nurturing a culture of health as a basic human right for all the people of the member countries.

2- Presentation of the concept note on PPD ARO’s role in the implementation of the SADC SRH Strategic Plan
A team from PPD ARO attended the Joint technical meeting for SADC member states as invited in an observer status to consider proposals for cooperation between the SADC Secretariat and the PPD ARO in the implementation of the SADC’s Reproductive Heath Strategy.

During the meeting, the Regional Director of PPD ARO had the opportunity to present the concept note on PPD ARO’s role in the implementation of the SADC SRH Strategic Plan. The meeting was held on April 14 – 17, 2009 at Zebra Lodge, Pretoria, South Africa.

Members states represented at the meeting were Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Also presented were representatives from Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),

SADC member states commended PPD ARO for the comprehensive presentation and approved the SADC SRHR implementation plan that was presented by PPD ARO. It was agreed that the implementation plan by PPD ARO be part of the report for presentation to the SADC Health Ministers meeting planned for July 13-15, 2009 was to be sent to the ministers meeting.

A key recommendation made at the meeting was that PPD ARO should share the opportunity of making more Africa countries members of PPD. It was also recommended that the SRHR implementation should be expedited.

3- Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Millennium Development Goals (UPFMDG) Strategic Plan Workshop
With Support from Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office, the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Millennium Development Goals (UPFMDG) organized a one day workshop on April 27, 2009 at Imperial Royal Hotel, Kampala, Uganda.

The main objective of this one day workshop was to develop and adopt UPFDMG’s Strategic Plan (2009-2013) that would guide its work within the country as well as propel the Forum’s agenda towards the achievement of MDG’s.

4- Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA) Strategic Plan Development Workshop
With Support from Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office, UNFPA, DSW and PACE (PSI), the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA) organised a one day workshop on June 24, 2009 at Imperial Royale Hotel. The main objective of this one day workshop was to develop and adopt UPFYA’s Strategic Plan (2009-2013) that would guide its work within the country considering the representational, legislative, budgetary appropriation and oversight roles of parliamentarians in this forum as it focuses its support to the youths. This Strategic Plan sets out UPFYA’s strategic thrusts that will enable the Forum realize its vision, mission, mandate and objectives, and thus contribute to the empowering of young people in particular and enhancing their well being in general.

5- Resource mobilization
PPD ARO held meetings with potential partners. These included IntraHealth and Engender Health. The discussions covered possible areas of collaboration and PPD ARO shared its 2009 work plan and delineated area of collaboration and partnership. During those meetings, IntraHealth and Engender Health showed interest in collaborating with the Office to carry out some of its programmed activities for the year 2009.

6- International seminars and meetings
6.1- AU Africa Ministers of Health Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The Regional Director of PPD ARO attended the AU Africa Ministers of Health Conference, Addis Ababa that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 4 – 8, 2009. The conference was attended by delegates from 34 African Union (AU) member states and 49 non-African embassies accredited to the AU, RECs, RHOs, UN specialized agencies, Intergovernmental and Non Governmental Organizations, cooperating partners and invited observers.

The Conference provided an important forum for member states, development partners and other stakeholders to share their strategies and activities to improve maternal, neonatal and child health mortality rates. The principal lesson retained by the participants from the experts meeting was the crucial leadership role that Ministers and governments have on the HRH management and reduction of maternal and child mortality rate. Positive examples undertaken by governments of Rwanda, Ethiopia and the Cape Verde were cited as Best Practices.

6.2- International Seminar on S-S Cooperation for Population and Development, Taicang, China
The Regional Director of PPD ARO attended a meeting in Taicang, China on May 13-15, 2009. The meeting also gathered representatives from other agencies, institutions, and donors.
Participants noted that the broad concept of RH has been understood and translated by a number of countries in the form of concrete initiatives such as policies and programmes.

The Regional Director of PPD ARO used the occasion in these meetings to make presentation the impact of Global Financial Crisis on Population and Development and the need for South-South collaboration and PPD ARO’s work in the continent.

There was call for renewed commitment from the member countries to support each other through South-South collaboration to address the resource mobilization gap among other issues.

6.3- Joint PPD ARO/IntraHealth Advocacy Mission to Rwanda
The Regional Director of PPD ARO made a joint advocacy mission to Rwanda on May 19-23. The purpose of the joint advocacy mission was to meet policy makers and development to dialogue on issues of funding for reproductive health. The joint mission also was an opportunity for discussion of Rwanda’s best practices on reproductive health including financing.

6.4- Annual Session of UNFPA Executive Board Meeting and Breakfast Meeting

The Regional Director of PPD ARO participated in the UNFPA Executive Board Meeting and Breakfast Meeting. During the meeting it was noted that the ongoing financial crisis has resulted in a significant economic downturn around the world.

It is estimated that one third of all developing countries – mostly in Africa and Asia – are highly exposed to the effects of the crisis on poverty. The slowing down of economic growth in the developing world can also contribute to a weakening of national social protection systems, decreased spending on social development, and a decline in public health budgets and expenditures.

Furthermore, the serious economic downturn in the developed world and the volatility in the currency markets have raised concerns about implications of the crisis for official development assistance (ODA). The combination of these factors endangers access to both public and private reproductive health services, particularly family planning and safe delivery services.

In his remarks, Dr. Musinguzi noted that, to prevent the ensuing human crisis, which can undo years of progress and further challenge achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He advocated for the implementation of the Abuja target of 15 per cent of the national budget to health and preservation of the donor countries’ commitment to meet the targets of 0.7 per cent of gross national product for ODA and 0.15 to 0.2 per cent to least developed countries (LDCs).

More information is available at:

6.5- Congressional Briefing
Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, Regional Director of Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO) spoke about maternal health in Africa at a United States Congressional briefing on 5 June 2009. The topic of the briefing was "Africa's Future: Improving the Health of Mothers and Children" and was sponsored by the Association of Population Centers, Population Action International, Population Association of America, Population Council, Population Reference Bureau, Population Resource Center, and UCLA Bixby Center on Population and Reproductive Health.

In his presentation, Dr. Musinguzi pointed out the effects of maternal mortality—-the lost lives, rights, and productivity—-and the range of effective, low-cost strategies to improve the health of mothers and children. "What is the message?" Dr. Musinguzi asked in conclusion. "No woman should lose her life while giving life."

Watch Dr. Musinguzi’s presentation at the website: (Length: 8:54):

More information on the Congressional Briefing is at:

The entire video briefing is available at:

6.6- 7th Annual Summer Institute in Reproductive Health & Development, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Patrick Mugirwa (Programme Officer) and Diana Nambatya (Associate Programme Officer), PPD ARO attended the 7th Annual Summer Institute in Reproductive Health & Development at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA on June 1-12, 2009.

The course focused on reproductive health and development analytical skills for policy and programs. Participants were introduced to contemporary population, reproductive health and development issues, measures and indicators. Analytic and interpretative skills to understand linkages between demographic change, sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and economic and social development. Participants were also guided through policy and program analyses using programs such as STAT Complier and spectrum to inform the future development needs.

More information is available at:

6.7- Human Resources for Maternal Survival (Task- shifting to non-physician clinicians)
The Regional Director of PPD ARO attended the first African Regional Meeting on "Human Resources for Maternal Survival: Task-shifting to Non-Physician Clinicians" which took place in Addis Ababa from 29 June - 2 July 2009.

It aimed at consolidating existing and new evidence on the use of Non-Physician Clinicians (NPCs) and move towards specific implementation steps to scale up NPCs as part of a team of health professionals necessary to expand Emergency Obstetric Care and meet MDG 5.
The meeting was organized by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health & Ministry of Education, the United Nations Population Fund and Columbia University (USA).

Alongside the Ethiopian Minister of Health, Dr Mubashar Sheikh, the Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance, participated in a panel discussion with representatives of donors, professional associations, UN agencies, NGOs and advocacy groups on mobilizing technical, financial and political support for action on enhancing maternal and newborn survival.

More information is available at:

7- Calendar
Please also see the PPD ARO website for the full, updated calendar of events for 2009:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Drop in Family Planning Funding Undermines Other Humanitarian Goals

Despite the United State's recent increase in family planning funding, a dramatic decrease in international donor funding is taking place, which threatens to unravel other humanitarian gains made in regards to issues such as poverty, hunger, and efforts to counter global warming.

In 1994 the International Conference on Population and Development took place in Cairo and alerted the world to issues of population and development, and the severe consequences for inaction. Following this highly publicized conference, countries worldwide were eager to commit funding, but after reaching a peak in 1995 with U.S.$723 million allotted, a drastic decline has occurred worldwide. The latest estimate, for 2007, shows contributions totaling only about $338 million, which according to UNFPA senior demographer Stan Bernstein, is "a hell of a decline." Furthermore, if one takes inflation into account the decrease appears even more severe.

The recent decline in funding not only hurts family planning services, but also threatens to undermine other humanitarian achievements such as advents made in the arenas of poverty and hunger. Unless their is renewed attention to issues of population and development, as well as an increase in funding for family planning, high fertility, especially in sub-Saharan Africa will simply exacerbate related humanitarian problems such as poverty. UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya A Obaid explains how "We have to protect the gains made and ensure that these gains do not slip back" in order to make any sustainable progress.

In an effort to prioritize issues of population and development, UNFPA convened 30 family planning experts in New York late this June including representatives from Bangladesh, Colombia, Guatemala, Kenya, India, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, the U.K. and the U.S. What they found was that countries who felt that they had made significant strides in reproductive health and effective family planning, were compelled to shift funding to other problems that seemed to require more attention. What they failed to realize however, is that such a monetary commitment must be continued if any lasting progress is to be made. Furthermore, many prior efforts were aimed at a specific age group of sexually active young men and women. Now that funding has been decreased, international programmes are having to choose what areas to focus on. This means that someone who was a child during the initial wave of family planning funding, will now find that resources and services are more limited as they become sexually active, and that the only information they will receive is that which funding will allow. One prominent example is in sub-Saharan Africa, where the limited funding has been focused almost entirely on HIV and AIDS, and has failed to address other important issues such as abortion and contraception.

Without an increase in funding, not only will family planning and reproductive health services be diminished, but an endless cycle connecting population with other humanitarian issues will relentlessly continue. If we are to make any strides regarding other issues, such as global warming or hunger, we must continue to address the core of every problem, namely , population. It is PPD's hope that a recommitment to the original goals of the ICPD will occur, and that the United State's recent increase in funding to family planning will emphasize the necessity of such a financial commitment.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Second HPV Vaccine Approved by WHO

Last week the World Health Organization announced that it had approved a second cervical cancer vaccine. Known as Cervarix, this new vaccine is produced by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and will supplement the original HPV Vaccine Gardasil, which is produced by Merck, in helping to prevent new HPV infections and subsequent cases of cervical cancer.

The approval of Cervarix allows U.N. agencies and their partners to be able to buy millions of doses of the vaccine for poor countries, where 80% of the 280,000 annual cervical cancer deaths occur each year. Without early screening, women in developing countries often find that HPV, which is often treatable, has already led to cervical cancer. By being able to offer these women a vaccine, they will be able to protect themselves against the HPV virus, and subsequently from the resulting cervical cancer which often present itself, and tens of thousands of lives will be saved.

As of now, cost arrangements are still under negotiation. GAVI, formerly known as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization prioritized the purchase of cervical cancer vaccines for the world's poorest countries last year, and is currently in talks with both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in the hopes of lowering the vaccines cost for developing countries. In the West, both vaccines typically run about $360 for a three shot dose, but if Cervarix is to make any sort of dent in the 80% of infections occurring in poor countries, costs will have to be drastically reduced.

As of now, Cervarix is not available in either the U.S. or Japan. Gardasil has dominated the U.S. market since its approval in 2006, but the FDA is expected to decide within the next few months whether to approve Cervarix for U.S. markets. If approved, donors will hopefully be able to purchase the vaccine at a reduced cost in order to aid women in poor countries.

To read more about the vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix, click here:

To learn more about HPV and Cervical Cancer visit:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Senate Appropriations Committee Increases 2010 Funding for Global Health Programmes

Last Thursday the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed a $48.69 billion draft bill to fund the State Department and foreign affairs activities for this 2010 fiscal year. With a final vote of 29-1, Senator Leahy explains how "this bipartisan bill goes a long way to emphasize the importance of enhancing the capacity of the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development to carry out diplomacy and development programmes in areas of critical importance to the United States."

Of the $48.69 billion allotted, global health programs will receive $7.8 billion for their continued efforts. This amount is not only $434 million above the 2009 fiscal year request, but also $178 million above this years request, emphasizing a realization of the need for substantial funding in order to continue and improve efforts to address issues of global health. Within the $7.8 billion budget, $555 million will be allotted to child survival and maternal health, $628.5 million for family planning and reproductive health programmes, which includes an allocation of $50 Million for the UN Population Fund, $5.709 billion to combat HIV/AIDS, and an additional $700 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In addition to increased funding for family planning, the Senate Appropriations Committee went a step further and adopted an amendment proposed by Rep. Frank Lautenberg, D- New Jersey, which "would make permanent Obama's decision earlier this year to revoke a policy prohibiting U.S. aid to overseas organizations that promote or perform abortions." Under George Bush, U.S. taxpayer money, in the form of family planning funding, was banned from going to any international family planning groups that either performed abortions, or offered any sort of information, counseling or referrals which supported abortion. Also known as the "Mexico City Policy" or the "Global Gag Rule" this policy was introduced by the Reagan administration in 1984, overturned by President Clinton in 1993, restored by President Bush in 2001, and most recently overturned by President Obama earlier this year. By agreeing upon this new amendment, further administrations would be forced to accept the most recent stance adopted by President Obama, and must continue to allow funding for family planning organizations that promote abortions, regardless of any future leader's opinion on this issue.

To read more about the Senate Appropriations Committee's funding breakdown, you can access their FY 2010 Department of State Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations summary at: