We propose developing a wearable technology for children to enabel them to report the pain they experience as they are being treated in the hospital in a low resource country. Our idea was selected by Harvard University and the Commonwealth Fund for disucssion on their Technology and Patient Engagement portal. We encourage ideas and responses to our posting, please follow the link:


Technology for Patient Engagement

Smart watch to support pediatric patients living with painful chronic conditions

By Sylvia Sosa | 08 Dec, 2014

Idea submitted by: Global Organization for Maternal & Child Health: Sylvia Sosa, Valerie Kong, Board of Directors

Interactive device similar to a watch, or wearable technology, that engages the pediatric patient experiencing pain from chronic disease such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. “Pain watch” allows the child to press a button at the time pain is experienced. Button options describe their pain based on the “Wong Baker” pain faces rating scale in real time, allowing patient to engage in everyday life, while improving pain assessment by primary care clinician, enabling clinicians to manage and understand needs of the child. The pain watch should transmit on a cellular system, not Internet, to allow for use in a low-resource setting.

This device targets low resource settings where access and communication with care providers is lacking, and outreach and education to the community is scarce, in a culture where information related to their condition could otherwise be ignored by caregivers due to taboos related to disease and death. Children will learn the basic functions of the pain watch and record their pain score instantly. This product is meant to be simple and easy to use in low resource areas, with responses stored at a secure central database accessible by care team.

Tool improves:
• Pediatric patient – physician interaction
• Understanding of pediatric pain from disease
• Healthcare outcomes including prevention of escalated symptoms, and costly complications

Please post comments to their site! http://www.ghdonline.org/breakthrough-health-it/discussion/smart-watch-to-support-pediatric-patients-living-w/

The news of the kidnapping of about 276 high school girls (about 53 later escaped) in a remote town in North East Nigeria (Chibok) has been the top news on both CNN and Al Jazeera the last few weeks. This is despite Nigeria hosting the World Economic Forum for Africa this week. The kidnapping happened on April 14 but Nigerians, having had enough of what they see as a weak response to a catastrophe and indeed to the growing threat  of the insurgent group (Boko Haram),  took to social media with a campaign to ‘#Bring Back our Girls’.
This campaign  caught on very quickly and brought the Nigerian government under international pressure, with several countries offering to help to rescue the girls and curtail the threat of Boko Haram. Such girls who are kidnapped by this insurgency are known to be raped severally and made to work as slaves in the Boko Haram camps.
The kidnapping of the girls followed closely an attack on another high school about a month earlier where hostels were set on fire at night and students slaughtered or shot as they tried to escape. These are all in keeping with Boko Haram’s goals which are to see Nigeria become an Islamic state and to abolish western education.
The group was founded in 2002 by a certain Mohammed Yusuf in Borno State who was later arrested and died under suspicious circumstances in police custody. The group subsequently became radically violent under its current leader, Abubakar Shekau. Though the problem began in one state in northern Nigeria, it has engulfed three states and has resulted in attacks (bomb and gun attacks) in many states in the north. In fact, Boko Haram is no longer a Nigerian problem but a global one as all radical islamic groups in the world (including Al Shabab in Somalia/Kenya and the group in Central African Republic and Mali) all work together and with Al Qaeda, This probably explains the level of sophistication of the attacks as well as the large funding required to prosecute such attacks.
The impact of the recent attacks on schools and girls has serious implications. The North East of Nigeria has some of the worst education as well as maternal and child health statistics. Of course, one of the proven ways of improving maternal and child health is to encourage the education of girls. A mother in Northern Nigeria was interviewed and she said she had pulled her daughter from school and would now only enroll her in a quranic school for her safety! If groups such as Boko Haram are allowed to fester for longer around the world, gains in maternal and child health might be reversed. It is time for a collaborative and decisive response from governments all over the world.


Dr. M. Oladoyin Odubanjo /Executive Secretary / The Nigerian Academy of Science/-1st Vice Chairman/Assn. of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN), Lagos State Chapter —— Chair, Scientific Advisory Board/ Global Organization for Maternal and Child Health, USA/ www.go-mch.org

We would like to welcome our new intern, Wendy Wai-Yei Leung, an MPH candidate at the University of Waterloo, with primary interests in global maternal and child health and nutrition.


You are what you eat

Television, YouTube… catching up on interesting documentaries can be stimulating. As much as I love learning about food, this is a topic there is much to talk about. I separated this blog in three parts so to cover the three main aspects of the topic on a global level. What is happening in well-developed countries, what about underdeveloped countries, and how complex is really the food issue?

You are what you eat: Food Police (Part 1)

Obesity is prevalent in as high as 50% of adults in industrialized nations and has been found more often in lower income countries over the last ten years. Industrialized nations obesity stems from the over-abundance of processed foods full of preservatives, loaded with sodium, unhealthy fat, and sugar. Government agencies attempt to regulate food to ensure that the population accesses healthy food, and makes efforts to teach consumers to make healthier choices.  However, the issues around health education and communication efforts to educate the population on nutrition are conflicting and different in various nations.

In May 2013, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting organised by Canada 2020 on Crisis in Public Health. The topic was related to issues related to obesity: which policies were implemented and lessons learned. There were 4 speakers:

  • Melody C. Barnes, Vice Provost, NYU and former White House Director of Domestic Policy under President Barack Obama
  • Alex Munter, President and CEO, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
  • Rodney Ghali, Director General of the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention, Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Alexis Williams, Director of Health and Wellness, Loblaw Companies Limited

Each of them provided an insight of what is done, but my personal highlight of the discussion was about the effort made by Loblaws Supermarket to encourage customers to make healthier choices easier and faster, which include:

  • offering affordable cooking classes for all ages
  • healthier food choices (Blue and Black label) by voluntarily reducing the amount of sodium in food
  • “Guiding Stars” program (3 stars-scoring for nutritional value)
  • Pharmacist, dieticians
  • Gym found within the supermarket

I was interested to learn that a local Ontario supermarket had taken such great initiatives to promote health, aside from all the debatable issues on food, namely food tax.

Food tax and ban

Various government agencies in a variety of cities worldwide have tried implementing bans on food advertising, bans on sugary drinks (New York City), controlling fat tax (in Denmark, dropped in 2012 following criticism), or establishing a sodium reduction plan (Canada). Since many stakeholders are involved, from consumer, chefs (restaurants), sellers, manufacturers, etc.,  the issues and discussions pile up and consensus can not be reached. As much it involves health concerns, and even if New York City has a population where nearly 60% of New York City adults and 40% of city schoolchildren are overweight or obese, as per CNN report, argument stands that it interferes with the freedom of choice.  Even more surprising are restaurants that promote unhealthy eating by providing free meals if the customer weighs over 350 lbs, and offers to their client- at 8000 calories per burger.

While regulation/legislation or enforcement is difficult to implement, health promotion is the way to go. With the goal of changing/altering behaviors, the key is to ensure children are adopting healthy habits and keeping them as they grow. Many initiatives have been taken to reduce fat, sodium and sugar in food, while providing healthier food choices at school. Results? As much as we care about our future generations, these initiatives are much more accepted by parents. What more can we do? The power of marketing, habits, behaviors, and addiction overpowers the idea of a healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t help if processed food is always more accessible and cheaper than healthy food.


Reference: http://canada2020.ca/event/the-canada-we-want-in-2020-public-health/








written by: Wendy Wai-Yei Leung, Go-MCH intern







Photo courtesy of CBSNews

Somalia is recognized as having an ongoing food crises over the last several decades. Most recently, between late 2010 and 2011, the nation experienced an extreme drought that led to a global food crisis in an area where women and children were already entrenched in desperate food and economic conditions.  Somalia’s 2011-2012 drought was the worst since the 1992-1993 famine. Acute malnutrition and illness further decimated the women and children whose immune system had already been lowered through from long term low access to food, health care, and unsanitary, unsafe living environments.


The United Nations and multi-partner Integrated Food Security Phase Classification system (IPC, an analysis template used for determining relative severity of food insecurity) and regions in Somalia were identified as suffering from severe famine and in the midst of major food shortages. Many people migrated to refugee camps in neighboring countries and as a result, populations in those camps soared and the prevalence of disease also spread throughout the already malnourished and weakened populations. This analysis however did not become realized until 6-9 months after the famine had already spread across southern Somalia and therefore, not only had the damage had been done, but the opportunity to save the lives of women and children had passed. Most families had lost their most vulnerable members or had left the area for refugee camps where they faced more dire circumstances.

Please see the FAO’s Food Security and Analysis Unit’s full report, recently published and commented through the FAO blog. Their report finds that over half of all deaths were children under 5:

To read the full report, please click on the following link: Download the Study Report (PDF, 3.84MB)









This year’s event, held at the Royal Society of Medicine was highly anticipated by the academic and professional world of international health. Their integration of online media and live online streaming really opened the access to this event for everyone to watch. We wish more conferences provided this type of open access!

This is the full document of their abstracts, articles and presentation schedule:


Visit their website: http://www.msf.org.uk/

Summary of a key presentation: 

Tuberculosis treatment in a chronic armed conflict setting: treatment outcomes and experiences in Somalia

(Karin Fischer Liddle, Riekje Elema, Sein Sein Thi, Jane Greig. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Amsterdam, Netherlands; MSF, London, UK)

Key findings: the programme successfully treated a high percentage of patients, though results were variable with only one project nearing the WHO target of 90%. However—It seems obvious in they’re conclusion that, “Insecurity often reduces mobility and may limit patients’ ability to seek healthcare”, that “adherence may be supported by a broader network of healthcare providers with a common agreement to continue TB treatment for mobile patients, but this is a substantial challenge.”  They brought up an important topic: collaboration and partnership development. The broader network of healthcare providers with common agreements in TB treatments for mobile patients could be facilitated through partnership development and coordination. In addition, perhaps technology may be helpful, depending on ease of use of technology in this setting. However, the combination of improved communication and coordination through partners via common agreements along with tools to facilitate communication and data tracking, should be explored by larger strategic funding agencies, as it has the potential to provide a higher impact.

We hope to summarize more presentations with future blog articles!

Literacy is a fundamental human right and is linked directly to improved rates in health and nutritional status, economic empowerment and growth, reduction in child marriage, and infant and maternal survival rates.

Literacy is the key to survival, improvement, growth, and achieving well-being.

We are all familiar with the political, economic and cultural barriers low income nations face to helping women and children access literacy. Nepal is no different than other nations. Their government does not provide enough funding for teachers or infrastructure to deliver the education necessary to help their population thrive.

As a result, families generation after generation suffer lack of ability to raise themselves out of poverty.

Go-MCH is helping rural communities in Nepal build the infrastructure and access resources in a way that can provide long term, affordable, and sustainable solutions. Our partner, Smiles Nepal is building schools with green energy (solar panels) and wiring for electricity and internet that enables schools to remain open with lights on after dark, powers computers all day and into the evening, and provides the resources necessary to support the literacy growth of children, women, and the community.

During the day, children are accessing literacy curriculum  learning how to read, learning science and math with the most up-to-date learning materials available in their native language and endorsed by Nepal’s Ministry of Education.

In the evenings, women’s groups visit the computer labs. Teaching aids show them how to use the computer and train them on using a basic literacy curriculum. Once they start learning, they can access online resources to reach family in other nations, learn more about educational and economic opportunities… the sky is the limit.



SMILES Nepal, Pilot schools in stages of development, being powered with renewable, reliable electricity:

  1.  Binayak Lower Secondary School in the village Kalimati, Jhagajholi Ratamata VDC-5, Sindhuli District
  2. Chilaunekharka Primary School in Chilaunekharka, Jhagajholi Ratamata VDC-6, Sindhuli
  3. Shree Krishna Lower Secondary School Virpani-2, Ramechap
  4. Shree Himalaya Secondary School Sipali-5, Kavrepalanchowk


Wondering how to help? Visit our donations page here: http://www.go-mch.org/pages/Fundraising.html

The expense is small, it is tax deductible, and you can change a child’s life forever!

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more, visit our program page:


U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).   On December 4, the U.S. voted against ratification of the CRPD.  A two-thirds majority of the Senate (66 votes) was needed to ratify the treaty, which was signed by the US in 2009.  The treaty does not protect persons with disabilities in the womb and would have put American laws under United Nations control. The Senate failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the treaty, after a 61-38 vote on December 4th, 2012.

Though there was significant controversy over increased UN oversight of US law, the treaty is modeled on the American Disabilities Act, which Congress passed in 1990. Former Republican Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), who has a war-related disability and was a strong proponent of disability rights during his Senate career, returned to the Senator Floor to urge ratification.  About 300 disabilities organizations in the United States strongly supported the treaty.  Those opposed to the treaty, including former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), were concerned that it would limit US sovereignty, parental rights, and the rights of people with disabilities, although mainstream international legal scholars seemed to disagree with this view.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would bring the treaty before the Senate next year for reconsideration.  For more information about the treaty and its text, see http://www.un.org/disabilities/.

International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, known more commonly as ICF, is a classification of health and health-related domains. These domains are classified from body, individual and societal perspectives by means of two lists: a list of body functions and structure, and a list of domains of activity and participation. Since an individual’s functioning and disability occurs in a context, the ICF also includes a list of environmental factors.

The ICF is WHO’s framework for measuring health and disability at both individual and population levels. The ICF was officially endorsed by all 191 WHO Member States in the Fifty-fourth World Health Assembly on 22 May 2001(resolution WHA 54.21). Unlike its predecessor, which was endorsed for field trail purposes only, the ICF was endorsed for use in Member States as the international standard to describe and measure health and disability

Source: http://www.who.int/classifications/icf/en/


  • Status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto (DRAFT, A/C.3/67/L.25 PDF version)
  • Realizing the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond (DRAFT, A/C.3/67/L.10/Rev.1 PDF version)
  • Addressing Socio-Economic Needs of Individuals, Families and Societies Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Developmental Disorders (DD) and associated disabilities (DRAFT forthcoming)

Handbook for parliamentarians on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disability

disabilities_pubFrom Exclusion to Equality, Realizing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Handbook was jointly prepared by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Release date: October, 2007





monitorin_COPDMonitoring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disability: Guidance for HR Monitors

Monitoring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Guidance for Human Rights Monitors (PDF)
Release date: April 2010
English and Russian.

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