How technology is helping India move toward smart service delivery

02 Aug 2017 by Jaco Cilliers, Country Director, UNDP India

eVIN is a mobile- and cloud-based application that allows cold chain handlers to update information on vaccine stocks after every immunization session. These updates give health officials an immediate look at vaccine stocks and flows, reducing wastage. Photo:UNDP India/Prashanth Vishwanathan
An innovation being rolled out by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is making the jobs of thousands of health care workers across the country more efficient and helping to secure the future of millions of women and children. In 2015, India launched eVIN, or electronic vaccine intelligence network — a smart, easy-to-use technology aimed at digitizing vaccine stocks in the country. It’s no small ask in a nation with the largest and most ambitious immunization program in the world — aiming to immunize some 156 million women and children each year. India’s immunization program is not without its challenges. The country’s vast and diverse terrain makes reaching the poorest and most vulnerable a monumental effort. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the absence of real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, so that health officials are able to make quick and informed decisions. … Read more

No time to lose

24 Mar 2017 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, UNDP

Every 18 seconds, someone dies of tuberculosis (TB). In the time it takes you read this blog, 12 people will have lost their lives to TB. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set ambitious targets of ending the TB epidemic by 2030 and achieving universal health coverage. The challenge is considerable, in part because TB is leaving millions behind. In October 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that TB had surpassed HIV as the leading cause of death from infectious disease; TB is also the leading cause of death in people living with HIV. 95 percent of new TB cases and 98 percent of all TB deaths are in low- and middle-income countries. According to WHO, the average TB patient loses three to four months of work-time and up to 30 percent of yearly household earnings. The World Bank notes that TB will rob the world’s poorest countries of an estimated US$1 trillion to $3 trillion over the next 10 years. … Read more

Do more than make some noise…

28 Feb 2017 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

UNDP is working with governments, civil society, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination, which often prevent people from seeking testing and treatment. UNDP photo
The theme of this year’s Zero Discrimination Day is make some noise. Raising our voices in solidarity for compassion, diversity, equality, inclusion and tolerance is core to our common humanity. Today we renew our commitment to achieving a world free of stigma and discrimination and a world where no one is left behind. History has taught us that noise can be a powerful tool. Today we pay tribute to the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Intersex) community, people living with HIV and their friends, lovers, family members and allies who courageously mobilized to push past the chronic indifference and fear that characterized the early days of AIDS. Their tenacious advocacy means that today we have 18.2 million people on life-saving treatment and communities continue to hold governments to account, claiming their rights to participation, non-discrimination, information, access to treatment and new prevention technologies like pre-exposure prophylaxis. The global AIDS response has also taught us that noise alone is not enough. Without the elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination wherever it may be found – in families, communities, workplaces or health care settings - we will not succeed in ending the suffering caused by this epidemic. … Read more

The 2030 Agenda: Leave no person with disabilities behind

19 Jan 2017 by Lucy Richardson, Policy Analyst, 2030 Agenda Team, UNDP

Up to 150 million children around the world are estimated to be living with a disability. Many are excluded from education and other opportunities. Photo:Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
In February 2016, I was proud to stand up and present to the plenary session of a youth-issues forum. Just over 24 hours later, I could barely stand at all, due to a sudden and mysterious pain and weakness in my right leg. As it progressively worsened over the following weeks, then months, I needed crutches or a cane to get around. The city I had once effortlessly navigated my way around abruptly became intimidating and hard to manage. People began to stare at me as I struggled to coordinate walking, and any place that involved stairs or a long walk was off-limits. Without warning, I had been thrust into the world of disability. I’m not alone in my experiences. It is estimated that 15 percent of the world’s population – around one billion people – live with a disability, so even if you do not have a disability yourself, you are likely to have a friend, family member or co-worker who does. There is huge diversity amongst people with disabilities (PwD), they can be of any age, gender, race, class, or ethno-cultural background. There are, however, certain people who are more likely to be affected by disability. … Read more

Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls

09 Dec 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls In the scenic valley of Panjshir, a bridge built with UNDP support makes it possible for Bahara and her classmates to go to school. Photo: Omer/UNDP Afghanistan
In her 2013 memoir, activist Malala Yousafzai recounts a moment that changes not only the course of her destiny but that of many other young girls across the world. On a trip in northwest Pakistan, she comes across a girl selling oranges who is unable to read or write. Disturbed by the discovery that this girl had not received an education, Malala makes a decision that she famously continues to see through: “I would do everything in my power to help educate girls just like her. This was the war I was going to fight.” This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone's rights. Malala’s example is what we all need to do more of: stand up for the rights of young women and girls in health, education and beyond. … Read more

Health and well-being for the world’s poor: Making the case for tobacco taxation

11 Nov 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Roy Small, Health and Innovative Financing Consultant, UNDP

Health and well-being for the world’s poor: Making the case for tobacco taxationTaxation on tobacco has emerged as a proven intervention in rich and poor countries alike to improve health while simultaneously financing development priorities. UN Photo/Martine Perret
Tobacco taxes have emerged as a proven gold standard intervention to stem the rising tide of health and development challenges. … Read more

4 lessons learned fighting tuberculosis in Syria

05 Aug 2016 by Håkan Björkman, Manager, UNDP Global Fund Partnership

Lessons LearnedTuberculosis patients displaced by conflict may lose access to health services, causing an interruption in treatment that increases their risk of developing multi-drug resistant strains of TB. Photo: UNDP Syria
Tuberculosis thrives on war and suffering. In theory, Syria offers the perfect breeding grounds for the disease. A lack of access to adequate medical services and poor and crowded housing conditions have created conditions ripe for the spread of tuberculosis. Yet, TB has been largely kept in check. Some 3,479 people were placed on treatment in 2015, a 150 percent increase compared with 2013. The TB treatment success rate has also been maintained at 80 percent during the conflict. UNDP has been supporting Syria to tackle TB since 2007, in partnership with the Global Fund. The onset of war in 2011 made this highly complex and has required a range of innovative approaches. … Read more

20 million people living with HIV are being left behind

09 Jun 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director for HIV, Health and Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

The number of HIV/AIDS patients with access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy has more than doubled since 2010. Photo: UNDP Nepal
This week, world leaders gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS to chart the way forward towards ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 as laid out in the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A new report from UNAIDS shows that the number of people with access to antiretroviral therapy—life-saving medicines that suppress the HIV virus and stop disease progression—has more than doubled since 2010, bringing the new total of people on HIV treatment around the world to an estimated 17 million at the end of 2015. … Read more

Are women and girls more vulnerable to tuberculosis and malaria?

23 Mar 2016 by Caitlin Boyce, Policy Specialist, HIV, Gender, Rights and Development, Health, HIV and Development Group, UNDP

woman at clinicA woman visits a tuberculosis clinic in Iraq. Photo: Safin Hamed/UNDP
Are tuberculosis (TB) and malaria still a widespread threat? Popular belief says no. But, in fact, they are still grave health challenges that need more attention, especially in how they are affected by gender. The World Health Organization recently reported that TB now ranks alongside HIV as the leading cause of death from infectious disease. And the disease has a disproportionate effect on women. Today, TB kills more women globally than any other single infectious disease, and more women die annually from TB than from all causes of maternal mortality combined. Some TB symptoms can also affect men and women in profoundly different ways. For example, women have a higher prevalence of genital TB, which is difficult to diagnose and has been identified as an important cause of infertility in settings with high TB incidence. … Read more

Zika is a wake-up call for all of us

03 Feb 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director for HIV, Health and Development, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

girl receives malaria treatmentA girl receives anti-malaria treatment in Bolivia. Through our partnership with the Global Fund and malaria programmes in nine countries, UNDP can share expertise on multi-dimensional mosquito control responses. Photo: UNDP Bolivia
Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared the spread of the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. Unlike other viruses spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquito —such as dengue, yellow fever, or chikungunya — the Zika virus often went unnoticed and was considered a mild tropical disease with most virus carriers being symptomless. Yet Brazil recently found itself in the throes of an unprecedented Zika outbreak — with more than a million people infected — and an unusually high number of babies born with microcephaly. There is growing international consensus, although not yet definitive proof, that the virus has potentially catastrophic implications for infected pregnant women and their unborn children, as well as possible links to other serious neurological conditions. Experts believe that environmental destruction caused the Zika virus to infect humans and is fuelling its dramatic spread through the Americas. … Read more