CHAPEL HILL, NC – Community leaders, educators, global health experts and researchers descended upon the Fed Ex Global Education Center at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill for a conversation about family planning and the Millennium Development Goals. The panel discussion, moderated by Maurice Middleberg, Vice President for Public Policy at the Global Health Council, highlighted a number of key issues related to family planning and more broadly global health.
Martha Carlough, MD, MPH, Director of the Maternal and Child Health Program and Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at UNC – Chapel Hill, shared data indicating that family planning interventions reduce maternal mortality around the world. Furthermore, the unmet need for family planning in the developing world is high; one in four married women want to avoid pregnancy, but do not have the means to do so. Unmet need continued to be hot topic as Ward Cates, M.D., M.P.H., President of Research at Family Health International (FHI), discussed the unmet need (68 – 90%) in low resource countries for HIV prevention tools (HIV testing, condom use, male circumcision, ARVs for PMTCT and contraception for PMTCT).
Pape Gaye, MBA, President and CEO of IntraHealth International, brought family planning into a broadened discussion about health systems strengthening and the unmet need for trained birth attendees. Redistributing health care workers based upon their skills rather than their roles was mentioned as one solution to the growing problem. During the dialogue portion of the event one audience member asked, “How do we establish in country investments in training a health workforce, and furthermore, how do we keep a health worker in their native country?” Mr. Gaye emphasized the importance of U.S. intervention to support the global demand for nurses and increased incentives on the part of the country to keep health workers.
In concluding the morning event, Maurice Middleberg emphasized the wealth of knowledge that had been shared over the course of the two-hour discussion, but he pointed out that simply having the knowledge is not enough. He pointed out that action, backed by knowledge is necessary if we expect change to occur. Mr. Middleberg urged the audience to take action, schedule district meetings with their representatives during the upcoming recess, write to them, make phone calls and invite them to future educational forums.
A video of the full event will be available shortly, please check back soon!