Posted on | March 9, 2011 by Tyler Ament |
Today, Sec. Clinton delivered a brief speech at the launch of the Global Partnership on Maternal and Child Health, where she mentioned that we have to step away from traditional methods of improving maternal health, and innovate to save lives quickly. Yet, Sec. Clinton’s first solutions – skilled birth attendants and tech to resuscitate newborns – aren’t first for USAID. Further, her statement doesn’t even mention the first item on administrator Shah’s list, yet she refers to Shah and USAID’s work numerous times in the speech.
In USAID administrator Rajiv Shah’s Global Health Lecture delivered in February, he says the following about what should come first in saving mothers in the developing world:
…We’ve scoured our data to identify best practices for improving care, often in the community-based setting. We have now asked each of our 28 missions in the highest-burden maternal-mortality countries to implement these best practices in an effort we appropriately call BEST.
It will require first addressing the significant unmet need for family planning in the developing world.Innovations in products can allow us to provide a broad range of family-planning options to women. And innovations in service delivery, like social marketing, can leverage the private sector to reach well beyond traditional health systems.
According to Shah, contraceptive programs come first, but according to Sec. Clinton’s speech it’s skilled birth attendants. Sec. Clinton finished her speech making the case for the USAID and State budgets with a call for focus, saying “we can’t do everything and be everything for everybody.” That seems to mean that things must be prioritized, yet if there is no clear message about what will come practically and absolutely first, how does one know what will? Which is it? Maybe Congress should ask them.