Mapping inequities in maternal care

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In 2000 the United Nations established the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) designed to improve outcomes for those in low-income countries. These 8 goals range from tackling infectious diseases to reducing extreme poverty and hunger and all have targets to achieve by 2015.

Goal 5 aims to improve maternal health by achieving universal access to reproductive healthcare, such as contraceptives and antenatal care, and by reducing the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015.

The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In Kenya the MMR in 1990 was 400 which means the country is aiming to reduce this to 100 by 2015 to achieve …

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What impact will malaria have on the ape community?

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“Drastic drop in global malaria deaths” read last week’s news headlines. Every year come December the World Health Organization (WHO) publish the World Malaria Report. This is an assessment of global and regional malaria trends, and the latest highlights are mostly positive.

 

The worldwide malaria mortality rate has decreased by 47% and by 54% in Africa, where about 90% of malaria deaths occur. It is good to see we are gaining ground in the malaria fight, but it’s too early for a celebratory ‘hip hip hoorah’, especially as insecticide resistance is on the raise in dozens of countries and a third of households in Africa are still without the basic treated nets. Last year 198 million people were infected and …

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Snip, snip…one little cut for an AIDS-free generation

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line up

Today, 1st December, I’m sure many of us started by opening the first door of our advent calendars. The Christmas countdown beginning and all excited for mince pies and mulled wine. But 1st December, has great significance for millions, as it marks World AIDS Day, an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV.

An estimated 34 million people have HIV worldwide. Due to the millions upon millions who have died from it, it has become one of the most destructive pandemics in history. Fortunately, the tide is turning in the AIDS pandemic. Rwanda is taking a rare and historic approach. In BMC Medicine the science community propose ‘circumcising a nation’, a bold strategy that

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Infertility care: Everyone has the right to have a child, but what if you are infertile?

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Today is the ‘IVF: Past, current and future developments’ series launch for Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. OADW reviews infertility and the technologies available in poor resource settings

 

“Parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children…”so argued the United Nations General Assembly in its 1969 Declaration on Social Progress and Development. At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development it was agreed that everyone should have ‘the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health’.

 

Yet infertility is a neglected aspect of care, particularly in developing countries. Urgent, life-threatening health issues understandably take priority, as health authorities …

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Open access in Ghana – a medical student perspective

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Sadat Bogobire

Sadat Bogobire is Clinical Year 2 at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, part of University of Development Studies in Ghana. He’s also currently a SCOMER representative for the Federation of African Medical Students’ Associations. Here he tells us about his views on open access.

How did you find out about open access?

I first heard about open access (OA) from a presentation made at the African Regional Meeting in a SCORE/SCOPE session in 2012. This seemed like a very laudable idea to me. My school had a practical program that took place ‘in the field’ and I thought being able to have instant access to research findings in this sort of situation would be ideal. I had already thought …

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How global are you?

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Marcel Hommel with students at the Malaria Workshop, Ifakara Institute, Tanzania.

Once upon a time, the letter was the fastest and widely accessible mode of communicating information for the majority of the world. And then the internet came and changed (and is still changing) communication for EVERYONE.

 

The internet is certainly changing scientific publishing. In 1665, the first scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, was published and was available in print to the elite few. Since then many more scientific journals have come into existence and their content made available to a growing audience. And yet, this audience was a small percentage of the scientific community, made up of only those that could afford subscriptions to these journals. The internet made subscriptions a little more affordable, because online access removed the need …

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The ‘Process Map’: guiding scientific collaboration

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“the substantive findings of science are a product of social collaboration and are assigned to the community…The scientist’s claim to ‘his’ intellectual ‘property’ is limited to that of recognition and esteem…” proclaimed the American historian and socialist Robert K. Merton in 1942. He believed science to be a ‘communist activity’ and an institution where researchers share their work with their community for the common good.

This view that progress in science is reached via cooperation and collaboration between individual scientists, and between generations of scientists, is an idealistic outlook of an institution where competition thrives.

Unfortunately, competiveness is an inherent nature in science. Scientists are set up to fiercely battle it out for limited funding and grants. Dr Trudie Lang, Director …

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Ebola and the beginnings of a tragic saga

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JP Chippaux

Panic; major social, economic and political disruptions; border closures and violent protests; this summarizes the state of affairs in the three countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the Ebola epidemic is raging.

The current number of Ebola cases far surpasses the total number of cases reported for all previous Ebola outbreaks combined and it continues to rise. A review, recently published in Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases, traces the history and progress of Ebola epidemics starting from the very first outbreak in 1976. Researcher and guest blogger, Jean-Philippe Chippaux, explains why the spread of the epidemic is slow in the beginning, and explosive and hard to control thereafter.

The West African epidemic began in …

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Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”

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Food insecurity affects one billion people around the world, with millions suffering from chronic hunger and under-nourishment. Urban societies often enjoy ease of access to worldly foods and the luxury to feast on meals of their choice, but if attitudes do not change, and action is not taken, everyone could be eating a limited diet. Global supply lines will become vulnerable as a direct result of human-induced climate change and we will bear witness to a decline in local production and reduced food imports.  

Today is World Food Day, a day to commemorate the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945. The UN General Assembly has designated 2014 “International Year of Family Farming.” This is to

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The Tef genome: deciphering one of Ethiopia’s key crops

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Tef

Sequencing of the genomes of agriculturally important grasses such as maize (Zea mays) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) has allowed us to gain important insights into the evolution and abiotic stress response of these plants.

In recent years there has been an increased focus on applying these advances to more localized crops, which often constitute an important nutritional resource in low-income countries. In Ethiopia Eragrostis tef (Tef), a grass native to the Ethiopian and Eritrean highlands, is a staple crop and accounts for approximately a quarter of cereal production.

Tef has a number of properties that makes it attractive for farmers in Ethiopia. The crop grows well in both arid and water-logged areas and it is relatively …

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