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International Health at 50

International Health at 50 (continued)

Maternal and Child Health

Well past the 20th century’s midpoint, the worldwide health agenda had yet to focus on the needs of mothers, infants and children, resulting in millions of needless deaths, illness and suffering. For more than three decades, the Department has made the well-being of these vulnerable populations a top priority and documented the costs of neglecting them. In recent years, faculty have developed simple interventions that can improve a child’s chances for survival in the critical first weeks after birth.

1996–present: Jean Humphrey’s research in Zimbabwe demonstrates the overriding importance of exclusive breastfeeding in minimizing mother-to-child transmission of HIV and in increasing the likelihood of infant survival.

2002: James Tielsch and Luke Mullany lead a community-based intervention in Nepal that shows using the antiseptic chlorhexidine to cleanse the umbilical cord reduces neonatal deaths by a third. Nepal adds the practice to its national health policy.

2008: In Bangladesh, Mark Steinhoff documents a 63 percent reduction in influenza illness in newborns whose mothers received the flu vaccine, as well as a 36 percent drop in serious respiratory illnesses in both mothers and infants.

2008: Preventive newborn care delivered by community health workers in Uttar Pradesh, India, reduces a baby’s risk of death within the first month of life by up to 54 percent. Researchers, led by Gary Darmstadt, and the community develop the program of umbilical cord cleaning, mother-to-baby skin contact (to keep the baby warm) and breastfeeding.


  • Martin

    France 10/19/2011 04:18:03 PM

    It is surprising that the field of International Health makes virtually no mention of water, sanitation and hygiene. Is the ultimate message of IH simply that prevention is a waste of time and curative approaches are the only viable ones? I doubt that Carl Taylor would have endorsed that. In fact, the notion that "It's the people themselves who have to take ownership of their own health care" is probably very closely linked to the concept of "community led total sanitation". International Health needs to understand Environmental Health.

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Origins of International Health

Origins of International Health

He was there: Carl Taylor recalls the reasons behind the birth of what is now global health.

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