The travel time was the most painstaking part of the process to return to Rwanda, not because it took me over 24 hours but because I was just so ready to be back. They say third time’s a charm so I guess we shall see. The first time I arrived was in 2009, I was as a freshly graduated young adult with hopes of changing the world. The Peace Corps was instrumental in curbing my idealism and provided a better picture of what development and progress looks like.

July 31, 2015 | The Guardian

A vaccine against Ebola has been shown to be 100% successful in trials conducted during the outbreak in Guinea and is likely to bring the west African epidemic to an end, experts say.

The results of the trials involving 4,000 people are remarkable because of the unprecedented speed with which the development of the vaccine and the testing were carried out.

Scientists, doctors, donors and drug companies collaborated to race the vaccine through a process that usually takes more than a decade in just 12 months.

“Having seen the devastating effects of Ebola on communities and even whole countries with my own eyes, I am very encouraged by today’s news,” said Børge Brende, the foreign minister of Norway, which helped fund the trial.

“This new vaccine, if the results hold up, may be the silver bullet against Ebola, helping to bring the current outbreak to zero and to control future outbreaks of this kind. I would like to thank all partners who have contributed to achieve this sensational result, due to an extraordinary and rapid collaborative effort,” he said on Friday.

There have been a total of 27,748 cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone up to 26 July, with 11,279 reported deaths, although the outcome of many cases is unknown and the toll will be significantly higher. In the week ending 26 July, there were just four new cases in Guinea and three in Sierra Leone.

Read the full article on The Guardian

July 24, 2015 | Belmont University

When doctorate of nursing practice student Jennifer Quigley realized she would be the first Belmont recipient of the Frist Global Health Fellowship, she said she was eager to use her passion for global health to implement a plan for teaching health care providers in Cap-Haitien, Haiti a modern method of natural family planning. Her trip was born of a partnership between Belmont’s College of Health Sciences and Nursing and the organization Hope Through Healing Hands, which was founded by Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D.

Although the goal of the trip was to assist the Haitian people, Quigley was quick to say the trip was life-changing for her, as well. “I learned so much more from the Haitian people than they learned from me. I have never seen a more joyous people, full of life and love, and each was eager to show me love. Though they did not have much, I never went hungry, and I always had water. They joyfully give, even if they have so little to start with,” she said. “I also had the opportunity to deliver a baby, with only one other nurse, no drugs and not sterile equipment — only a clean room and the two of us. It was an experience I will hold with me for the rest of my life.”

Read the full article on Belmont University

July 24, 2015 | The Telegraph

Scientists across Africa are celebrating the news that the world's first vaccine against malaria has been approved by the European Medicines Agency.

The vaccine, named Mosquirix, was given the green light on Friday after more than 30 years of research, detailed in 230,000 pages of data. It now means that the vaccine will be examined by the World Health Organisation and, if approved, could be administered to children across Africa within the next few years.

"It's massively significant," said Allan Pamba, vice president for pharmaceuticals in East Africa for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which has spent more than $356 million (£230m) to date on finding a vaccine. GSK expects to invest a further $200 to $250 million until development is completed. In January 2001, GSK and PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, with grant monies from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to PATH, entered into a public-private partnership to develop a vaccine. PATH has invested more than $200 million, much of it from the Gateses.

"Malaria has been incredibly difficult to crack. It's been tremendously frustrating. But we are all immensely proud to have reached this milestone."

Data is important. Because of data collection and monitoring, UNICEF can report that, “On average, one out of every 11 children born in sub-Saharan Africa dies before the age of 5.” In this example, data demonstrates the magnitude of the problem and serves as a catalyst for people to come together to develop strategies and implement programs to improve child health. Then, with continued data collection and monitoring, progress towards reducing child mortality can be measured.
Humanitarian photographer Esther Havens tells the incredible story of photographing the mother and baby in Rwanda, that later became the cover photo for The Mother & Child Project. Six years later, Havens returned to Rwanda to see what had become of the mother and baby that had meant so much to her for all these years.

June 29, 2015 | Christianity Today

Melinda Gates describes herself as an “impatient optimist,” something that was nurtured in her while attending Ursuline Academy, the leading Catholic all-girls school in Dallas.

Since Melinda and husband Bill created the Gates Foundation in 2000, they have given away $33.5 billion of their massive wealth from Microsoft and from their close friend, billionaire Warren Buffett. The foundation started the same year as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the 15-year antipoverty campaign centered on 8 global objectives. The two programs share many priorities, such as fighting diseases, reducing extreme poverty, and improving maternal health. The foundation partners with a wide spectrum of organizations. Faith-based groups— including Catholic organizations, World Vision, Lutheran groups, and the Salvation Army—are key recipients of more than 125 foundation grants.

This January, Melinda and Bill Gates announced they were “doubling down” on their poverty-fighting efforts. “The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history,” they said. But along with the foundation’s big bets and big spending has come big controversy. In 2012, the couple helped launch Family Planning 2020, a global effort to make voluntary, artificial contraception available to 120 million poor women by 2020.

Read the full article on Christianity Today.

June 26, 2015 | Partners In Health

Partners In Health is launching a new initiative in Rwanda—the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE). A different kind of university, UGHE will harness the best ideas in higher education and integrate cutting-edge technology platforms with immersion in complex health care delivery systems.

Owned and operated by PIH, UGHE is a private institution that will leverage expertise and resources from the government of Rwanda, Harvard Medical School, and key partners to create a forum for delivery-focused teaching, research, clinical care, and implementation. Classes will be taught by local and international experts including Harvard Medical School faculty. Students will learn from a broad network of global policymakers, leading research scientists, community health workers, and social entrepreneurs. UGHE’s academic programs aim to cultivate global health leaders with the vision to tackle consequential challenges and the pragmatic leadership skills to effect transformational change.

“UGHE will train the next generation of Rwandan and global leaders in health care delivery, making Rwanda an international hub for delivery science,” said UGHE Executive Director Dr. Peter Drobac. Drobac will teach an innovative course this September that explores key principles of global health.

PIH has focused on delivering high-quality health care and social services in some of the world’s poorest communities for nearly 30 years. For the past decade, PIH has worked in close partnership with the government of Rwanda, helping to strengthen a health care system that has achieved record improvements in health. This new university is an exciting next step for PIH in Rwanda.

UGHE is actively recruiting students to participate in the inaugural Master of Science in Global Health Delivery (MGHD) degree, which begins in September 2015. The MGHD will be the university’s flagship program, providing a one-of-a-kind learning experience rooted in the principles of global health delivery and One Health, and incorporating policy, management, finance, and leadership. Students with professional experience in health care management and administration, veterinary science, policy, and research will have opportunities to connect and collaborate with global health colleagues and peers throughout the program. Over the coming years, UGHE will add programs in undergraduate medicine, nursing, and dentistry, and graduate programs in veterinary medicine and health management.

Rwanda’s Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, a Harvard Medical School senior lecturer and UGHE professor, is passionate about the university’s launch. She looks forward to teaching biological and social determinants of health.

“I have always dreamed that putting academic rigor into health sector management at all levels—local, national, regional, and beyond—would greatly improve the health of the population,” said Binagwaho. “This is exactly what UGHE will do for Rwanda and for the world. I am so excited to be part of this outstanding initiative.”

The two-year, part-time program is designed to complement students’ full-time jobs and scheduled so that students can remain employed. Beginning with a week in residence in Rwinkwavu, the course will meet one night per week in Kigali and one weekend a month in Rwinkwavu, while the first of two state-of-the-art permanent UGHE campuses is under development in Butaro.

Those who wish to apply can visit

This article was originally published on Partners In Health

June 11, 2015 | Christian Post

Those of us who care deeply about human needs often speak as if the one issue we're most passionate about stands alone: hunger, AIDS, poverty, governance, trafficking. We have fallen into that trap at times, too. But here's a vital truth we can't ignore: just beneath the surface, pressing human needs are intertwined. So any aid or development effort that fails to reflect this truth will most always fall flat.

Let's make this personal. Jedd Medefind leads the Christian Alliance for Orphans, working to see orphaned and vulnerable children well cared for around the globe, and Jenny Dyer directs the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide and Senator Bill Frist, MD's Hope Through Healing Hands, which seeks to empower women in the developing world to better time and space their pregnancies.

Many would see these as widely differing undertakings. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Let's start with this question: "What causes a child to end up an orphan in the first place?" Of course, there are myriad roots to what UNICEF has called the "global orphan crisis" – from disease and disaster, to abuse by parents, to adults feeling forced by poverty to abandon their children. These vexing problems defy simple solutions, so caring for orphaned children will likely remain an immense need for decades to come.

But it is also clear that if these causal factors can be reduced, the number of future orphans can be significantly decreased. Consider the fact that pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls age 15-19 worldwide. Yet even small cultural shifts can alter this reality.

For example, the average age of marriage in Ethiopia is 16. Becoming pregnant between ages 15-19 creates twice the risk of death to a mother as becoming pregnant between 20-24. Likewise, if a mother becomes pregnant within two years of her previous delivery, she is more likely to die or have a miscarriage. Simply delaying pregnancy until age 20, and spacing pregnancies to two or more years apart, can greatly decrease maternal deaths.

Of course, the impact of saving a mother's life ripples outward. When a new mother dies, her infant is up to ten times as likely to die before its first birthday. If the mother has other children, they also become orphans. Studies consistently show that these orphaned children are far more vulnerable to virtually every known evil, from disease and malnourishment to human trafficking. This is true even when they are "single orphans" with a living father.

In short, healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies (HTSP) is a simple, powerful way to protect children from becoming orphans and all the vulnerabilities that come with it.

Grasping the ways these issue intertwine helps inform strategy. When we understand how the timing and spacing of pregnancies impacts orphan issues, we see how significant it can be to combine HTSP with other initiatives intended to protect and care for vulnerable children and their families.

That's not to say there is no place for focus on caring for orphans…or on specific diseases, poverty, governance, trafficking or any other distinct issue. On the contrary, the most effective organizations and initiatives often carry a highly disciplined focus on their core mission and strengths. They provide deep solutions to one need rather than shallow solutions to many. Too often, organizations that try to "solve it all" often end up solving nothing.

But even while keeping strong focus, the best organizations also always keep the bigger picture in mind. They are students of how economics, medicine, governance, superstitions, social mores, and countless other factors interplay as both causes and effects of the more visible needs-at-hand. They see how a comprehensive response demands a wide spectrum of actions simultaneously. While well-honed in their own primary mission, they cultivate effective partnerships and coordinate actions in ways that address multiple issues simultaneously.

In short, we could say that wisdom calls each of us to a wide perspective and a narrow focus.

For us, this means continuing to promote excellence in our respective areas: orphans and HTSP. But it also means exploring together how these seemingly-dissimilar issues are interrelated…and acting on that knowledge to cross-pollinate "best of" solutions between the two fields.

When we see how intertwined human need issues really are – and align strategies accordingly – we believe we can bring far more good to children and families around the world than any isolated endeavor ever could.

Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D., is the executive director of Hope Through Healing Hands a Nashville-based global health organization, founded and chaired by Senator Bill Frist, M.D., and recently compiled "The Mother & Child Project: Raising our Voices for Health and Hope." Jedd Medefind serves as President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans and recently authored the book, "Becoming Home."
This article was originally published on the Christian Post.

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