At JSI, we look forward to the American Public Health Association conference as an opportunity to gather each year to learn from and be inspired by our colleagues in the public health world. The conference starting this weekend in San Francisco will be no exception: We anticipate a meeting of great depth and breadth as we consider the theme of “Prevention and Wellness Across the Lifespan.”
This year, despite global economic hardship and some setbacks, we will see that there is significant forward movement on public health, due to international commitment to progress. We are experiencing important advances in ensuring comprehensive health improvements throughout the world. For example, the UN Millennium Development Goal for access to clean water has been reached ahead of the target date of 2015. Also, recent publications on mortality statistics have shown important decreases of maternal and infant deaths throughout the world, and most importantly in Africa. In the United States, there is momentum on health care reform—boosted by the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act.
At this conference, we will work to keep up that momentum as we learn about innovations that employ the latest technologies and share emerging best practices.
The theme of prevention and wellness across the lifespan is a theme that corresponds well with the work of JSI’s people. Across the company, we are deeply committed to improving the health of individuals and communities worldwide, closing the gap in health disparities, and providing essential health services to those in need. In the International Division, we particularly focus on the reproductive lifespan, starting with youth and adolescents when behavioral change is the most important, moving into pregnant women, newborns, and children under five. We help country governments to build integrated health systems that facilitate the connection of evidence-based interventions between these various age groups. For example, our work on integrated postpartum care in Africa and Asia targets the immediate postpartum needs of the mother and newborn and also addresses the future reproductive health needs of the family through family planning counseling.
In Nepal, JSI is working to reduce newborn deaths by scaling up a promising treatment with chlorhexidine to prevent neonatal sepsis.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, JSI is implementing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded ARISE project, which identifies and documents promising interventions leading to improved and sustained routine immunization system performance.
Strengthening routine health information systems is another area to which JSI has contributed tremendously, introducing innovative approaches to holistic family care. For example, in the SNNP region of Ethiopia, JSI via the MEASURE Evaluation project has assisted the Ministry of Health to introduce the ‘family folder’ as a tool to ensure continuity of care and integration of both preventive and curative interventions.
In the United States, we are working to transform communities to create environments and systems that promote physical activity and healthy food options in order to prevent obesity and related chronic diseases.
We look forward to reconnecting with colleagues at JSI’s presentations, which will include a wide range of topics applicable in both domestic and international work. There will be presentations on integrated health systems, family planning, contraceptive security, and maternal healthcare among poor rural women. We’ll be talking about several nutrition-related projects, as well as childhood obesity interventions. There are panels that will examine gender-based health disparities, and our colleague, Mesfin Nigussie, from the Integrated Family Health Program, will be presenting on his assessment of health extension workers in Ethiopia.
I, myself, will be part of a panel organized by the Rebuilding Basic Health Services project, which is a five-year initiative to support Liberia’s goal of increasing access to basic health services and strengthening the decentralized management of the health system. Dr. Dahn, the Deputy Minister of Health of Liberia, Louise Mapleh, Unit Manager for Performance Based Financing, MOHSW, Vamsi Vasireddy, our Capacity Building Director, and I will discuss the lessons learned around rebuilding a health system in a post-conflict country.
I hope to see you at one of those presentations, or at JSI’s booth #2012.