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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 16, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 42
JHPIEGO to Lead New Program

$75 million award to save lives of mothers, newborns

JHPIEGO, an international health organization at The Johns Hopkins University, has received a five-year award of $75 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development to lead ACCESS, a program to save the lives of mothers and newborns in developing nations.

A 31-year-old organization dedicated to improving health care for women and families, JHPIEGO builds capacity in developing countries by training and supporting local health care providers, including doctors, nurses, midwives and health educators, in areas where few if any providers currently practice.

JHPIEGO works throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe. Its partners in the ACCESS program are Save the Children, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the Futures Group, the Academy for Educational Development and Interchurch Medical Assistance.

"JHPIEGO and our partners are proud to lead this country's flagship program to provide improved care for women and children in developing countries," said Leslie D. Mancuso, chief executive officer of JHPIEGO. "We will develop the health infrastructure that gives critical support to women and families. We will foster the adoption of proven practices that are the best hope for a healthy future. Through ACCESS, we can make sure that women give birth in clean and safe surroundings, with a trained birth provider and the support of their community, so that mothers and newborns, especially in the critical first days of life, survive and thrive."

Each year, more than 500,000 women die in childbirth, Mancuso said.

ACCESS — providing access to clinical and community maternal, neonatal and women's health services — is a follow-on program to JHPIEGO's Maternal and Neonatal Health Program, which also was funded by USAID. The MNH Program has increased survival rates of mothers and newborns in 18 countries since its inception in 1998. Through MNH, JHPIEGO and its partners have developed global guidelines, best practices and evidence-based treatments; educated in-country experts who can practice, teach and advocate for communities, patients and families; mobilized communities to demand more and better-quality health care; and introduced infection prevention techniques and a rigorous quality improvement process instituted at local hospitals and clinics.

ACCESS represents wider implementation of the best practices and programs piloted through MNH: interventions for birth preparation and safe delivery, integrating care for mothers and newborns, and identifying and training skilled birth attendants. To ensure improved outcomes, ACCESS will scale up proven best practices in essential maternal and newborn care such as the prevention of malaria in pregnancy and the reduction of bleeding in childbirth or postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of maternal death worldwide. The new program's approach to integrating maternal and newborn care is not only the best way to ensure that mother and baby both receive essential health and nutrition services, Mancuso said, but it is also the most economical way to deliver services.

In addition, the program will build on community mobilization efforts that have been proven to increase chances for maternal survival in rural communities throughout the developing world. The ACCESS partnership will engage policy-makers, providers and other key stakeholders to ensure that integrated high-quality services reach women, families and communities, particularly marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Through existing partnerships, ACCESS will continue to disseminate state-of-the-art practices for maternal, newborn and women's health and further define and scale up new strategies for linking women and newborns with basic life-saving services.

"Through our work in MNH," Mancuso said, "we were able to change the paradigm from maternal deaths to saving women's and newborns' lives. We know how to ensure survival. Every family in the world has the right to demand access to quality care that makes the difference between life and death. Through ACCESS, we can begin to turn that promise into a reality."


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