25 March 2013Multinational technology giant IBM has launched a crowdsourcing project to help capture, share and analyze information about the water distribution system in South Africa.The project, called “WaterWatchers,” is driven by a new mobile phone application and SMS capability that will enable South African citizens to report water leaks, faulty water pipes and general conditions of the country’s water infrastructure for 30 days starting from World Water Day, 22 March.“Every update will provide vital data points to an aggregated ‘WaterWatchers’ report to create a single view of the issues challenging South Africa’s water distribution system,” IBM said in a statement on Friday.The free app, which is currently available for Android and available for download at www.ibmwaterwatchers.co.za, and the SMS capability together provide an easy way for anyone to collect and report issues on local waterways and pipes to a centralized portal.After taking a photo and answering three simple questions about the particular water canal or pipe, the data will be uploaded in real-time to a central database. After 30 days, the data will be analyzed and aggregated into a meaningful “leak hot spot” map for South Africa.“This project is about analyzing use, predicting demand and managing the future of our country’s water,” said IBM South Africa Smarter Planet executive Ahmed Simjee.“It’s a unique exercise in crowdsourcing for South Africa, and we encourage every person to become a ‘citizen scientist’ – to engage with the environment and help create a big picture map of our water leaks and issues,” Simjee said“By enabling countless individuals to gather and submit data, WaterWatchers represents a new kind of data aggregation, analytics and visualization for water planners in South Africa – and is exactly the kind of ‘big data’ challenge IBM excels at solving.”Under-spending on water in South Africa has seen the Department of Water Affairs increase spending by 20% to R9-billion (U$900-million) in 2011-2012, while spending on water sector management increased by 28.8% year-on-year over the same period, and spending on water infrastructure management rose by 13.2% year-on-year.But the pressure of urban population influx continues to place more strain on the country’s ageing water infrastructure. According to the 2011 Census, 93% of South African households had access to safe water in 2010 – but only 45% of those with access to water actually had it in their homes.According to IBM, a WaterWatchers report will be made available to local municipalities, water control boards and other water system stakeholders once the data had been filtered appropriately. This could help local municipalities vizualise and prioritize improvements to city water infrastructure.“This project is a natural extension of the work we have done to address non-revenue water in Tshwane with IBM, and as the capital city we will lead the roll-out of this program nationally,” said Tshwane Executive Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa. “We challenge other cities to join the initiative and help manage this precious resource as best as we can.”IBM says it believes the WaterWatchers platform holds huge potential for similar applications that can be used to monitor and report on just about any aspect of one’s environment: city services, wildlife, noise pollution, air quality, weather and more.“Interest in IBM’s Smarter Planet strategy to transform growing cities and address massive urbanisation in the South Africa has grown rapidly,” IBM said. “The City of Johannesburg has strategically addressed its 2030 vision and partnered with IBM to develop a roadmap for smarter public safety.“The City of Tshwane has led the way in addressing water challenges, addressing ever increasing water scarcity and the requisite water conservation with a nine-point plan developed by IBM Corporate Service Corps in 2011.”Source: SAnews.gov.za
marshall kirkpatrick Tags:#Analysis#web The innovative OPML browser plug-in BlogRovr is announcing tonight that it has been acquired by PR monitoring and ad sales startup BuzzLogic. It’s a victory for all the startups who face hostile questions about “how are you going to monetize that?” and answer by pointing to the potential for data mining. For BlogRovr users, who piled up the feed subscription and traffic data that make up much of Blogrovr’s value, it’s a clarion call to engage with the hard questions about data portability and ownership.BlogRovr lets you identify what blogs you read, then notifies you when any URL you visit has been linked to by one of those blogs. That technology will remain free but will now be put to use for PR monitoring and advertising sales by BuzzLogic.Both of these are companies we’ve covered a lot here because they are very interesting. BuzzLogic is interesting because they use sophisticated algorithms to determine blogger influence that are practically unfeasible for most users to replicate through free, public methods. BlogRovr is interesting because, amongst other things, it is a fascinating way to leverage RSS and OPML data. See for example our interview with BuzzLogic co-founder Mitch Ratcliffe in 2006 and our initial review of BlogRovr in 2007.Before you sell my data, even in anonymized aggregate, to a PR and ad sales firm – should I be able to export my clickstream and the subsequent analysis? Is that my data? Is it BlogRovr’s to sell without concern for my access to it? This announcement brings up a number of interesting questions about Data Portability.Below, a screenshot from BuzzLogic’s dashboard.If I Use Your Tool and You Use My Data – Who’s Property is the End Product?Presumably Blogrovr is or is going to track user clickstreams (browsing history). That, combined with the overlap with subscribed blogs, will be useful in determining blogger influence and a price point for rapid ad placement.This certainly isn’t the entirety of what BuzzLogic has acquired – BlogRovr execs are being given extensive responsibility over BuzzLogic technolgies as a whole. The minds behind the browser plug-in may be as valuable as the data it churns out, but the data is important to discuss.On one hand, the company used its proprietary technology to capture this data in a way that users are practically incapable of capturing themselves – at least the overlap with all subscribed blogs. On the other hand, BlogRovr minus their 180k users isn’t good for much of anything.I asked Chris Saad, Chairman of the Data Portability Working Group, what his take on this question was. “If the data was generated for or by your behavior then you co-created it,” he said, “therefore u should have co-ownership of it at least.” What does that mean, practically? As a thought exercise, should BlogRovr split its acquisition price somehow with it’s users? “No,” Saad said, “BlogRovr gets to keep the money and the aggregate derived data – but the user should be able to export their own data as well, and perhaps even request their account to be deleted.”That sounds reasonable to me, but that’s not what’s being made available. Users are allowed to export their OPML file of subscribed feeds – but all other data is unavailable.Is Clickstream Data a User’s Own Responsibility?Pundit Steve Gillmor has been arguing lately on the Gillmor Gang (now hosted by TechCrunch – thanks Mike!) that data portability advocates are wrong to demand that services capturing their clickstream data turn that data over to users. He, and if he’s alone he’s probably all the more right, argues that user clickstream data is a user’s responsibility to capture if it’s so darned important. We don’t need anyone to give it to us – we already have access to it.While that may be technically true of browsing history, it is much less true of the subsequent analysis of history cross referenced with blog subscriptions. In theory though, is that data more difficult to access for a typical user than the clickstream is? Neither is particularly accessible without some technology, but if a company builds that technology do they then own its fruit?Saad again says, “if BlogRovr is capturing it, then they should share it. It’s user generated content.” I’m not sure it’s quite that simple, but it might be.It seems to me that there aren’t clear answers around any of this. Some people and companies are engaging with these questions, but BlogRovr’s Marc A. Meyer admits that his company simply hasn’t been one of them. That’s a refreshingly honest answer, and better than I got from Meyer’s new PR/ad network bosses – but so what? The company was clearly blazing a trail in terms of using users’ data – do they not have a responsibility to explore the other half of the equation – user access to that data?Maybe This Isn’t About User RightsIt’s also possible that Data Portability is best advocated not from a position of right and wrong, of user rights, but instead as a matter of competitive advantage. If BlogRovr had a viable competitor that differentiated itself by offering users access to their data throughout the process – perhaps that competitor could emerge victorious. Would a PR/ad network have bought such a company, though, if it offered to hand over this valuable user data? Would enough users have cared to make such differentiation meaningful as a competitive advantage?There are no end of questions that still need answers in regards to data portability. For now, BlogRovr and BuzzLogic deserve congratulations at least for recognizing the value of user data in the blogosphere. How should the rest of us feel about the news, though? Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
LATEST STORIES Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim “Can’t really tell you how, we just shot the ball badly,” said Baldwin, whose team went 3-of-10 in uncontested shots. “I thought we executed well in the first half.”And as Ateneo failed to find the bottom of the net on a consistent basis, the Tamaraws had a field day.FEU shot 31-of-63 from the field for 49 percentand converted 8-of-19 from deep.The Tamaraws also went 28-of-60, 47 percent, on their contested shots.“The big issue was our defense, FEU’s confidence was really great,” said Baldwin. “Almost all of their shots were contested and I don’t think our contests had any sort of vigor to them.”ADVERTISEMENT Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games ‘A complete lie:’ Drilon refutes ‘blabbermouth’ Salo’s claims MRT 7 on track for partial opening in 2021 “Our defense seemed to lack the last 10 percent of effort that it needs to have an impact on a good offensive team and tonight FEU was a good offensive team. For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. “I think our confidence kind of went down,” said Baldwin after a 80-67 loss to the Tamaraws Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.“I hate to see that because with young kids you don’t ever want to see their confidence erode a little bit.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingAteneo shot 26-of-71 from the field good for 37 percent and nearly half of those attempts were 3-pointers.The Blue Eagles chucked up 32 attempts from long distance and made just 10, but what made things difficult for the top seed were missing open shots. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Ex-Blue Eagles Tolentino, Cani star for FEU in Final Four After 30 years, Johnlu Koa still doing ‘hard-to-make’ quality breads The Fatted Calf and Ayutthaya: New restos worth the drive to Tagaytay MOST READ Malditas save PH from shutout Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netAteneo rarely saw its shots fall against Far Eastern University in their Final Four of the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament.What did go down was, as head coach Tab Baldwin said, the team’s collective confidence.ADVERTISEMENT Jordan delivers on promise: 2 Cobra choppers now in PH Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ View comments
Today is Network for Good’s official Be Your Donor Day. Today is the day all nonprofits should review their digital fundraising channels through their donors’ eyes. Of course, while every day should be Be Your Donor Day at your organization, we want to encourage all fundraisers to devote some time today to experiencing their outreach and donation process from their donor’s perspective. A third of all online giving will happen in December—now is the time to make sure your donors will have an easy giving experience that inspires and delights them. Don’t let your hard work of creating a great year-end fundraising plan go to waste! Make it your mission to find and fix any problems that may trip up your donors before the busiest giving days of the year. So, what can you do to celebrate Be Your Donor Day? Here are some suggestions:— Visit our Be Your Donor Day headquarters for donor-centric fundraising resources, including a Be Your Donor checklist and year-end fundraising guide.— Pledge to set aside time to view your entire fundraising and donation process from your donor’s perspective.— Put on your “donor hat” and make a donation, submit a contact form on your website, and call your main phone line. What happens? Is the process what you’d expect? Is it easy?— Ask a friend or family member (someone not overly familiar with your organization) to help you test your website and donation page.— Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #BeYourDonor.We asked a few of our friends in the nonprofit space to share their suggestions for Be Your Donor Day. Read on and check out their amazing tips:Kivi Leroux Miller wants you to rethink your newsletter strategy. Make it a valuable resource for your donors.Social Media for Nonprofits co-founder Darian Rodriguez Heyman recommends you follow the Burrito Principle when timing your social media posts. Post important updates when your donors and supporters are most likely checking their feeds.Mark Rovner and Alia McKee of Sea Change Strategies encourage fundraisers to consider the appreciation you show your donors. Would your organization pass the Bulls-Eye Test?Joanne Fritz suggests you view your website from the donor perspective. In addition to having a nice, clean layout with a prominent DonateNow button, your website should also strive to answer your donor’s most important questions.Form connections and get to know your donors, supporters and prospects, says Nancy Schwartz. Do donors feel connected to you and your organization?Big Duck’s Farra Trompeter shared this gem from last year’s Be Your Donor Day: make sure your donors love you! Here are 11 ways donors show you they care about your organization. Take the pledge to Be Your Donor and make your emails, donation page, website, and social media more donor friendly!I’d love to hear your ideas — share how you plan to “Be Your Donor” in the comments below.
3. Make your email a part of a conversation.Sending your email from one person, using first-person pronouns, and including contractions will keep your note feeling conversational. If you write, “The Denver Puppy House is pleased to receive your donation,” or, “We used those funds to buy medicine,” you might come across as formal and dull. But if you write, “I am so glad you were able to make a donation to help our puppies,” or “I couldn’t have done it without you,” you’ll sound intimate and chatty. 1. Use a personalized greeting.If your friend sent you a note that said, “Dear Sir or Madam,” you might be a little confused. While you may not individually know all of your supporters, think of them as your nonprofit’s treasured partners and write to each one by name with a friendly greeting. Try saying “Hello there, Matt!” instead of “Dear Matthew.”2. Have a warm tone.Adopt a warm, welcoming tone by using simple sentences and informal language. This will help your email be breezy instead of stiff. Choosing shorter words such as “get” over longer words like “acquired” will make your email read as if from a friend. When your donors feel valued and special, they’re more likely to give again and again. One way to spread the love is by giving your emails a personal touch. Here’s how:
Sending thank you notes and providing tax receipts are important steps to building good donor relationships—but they’re just the beginning. Here are three ways you can go above and beyond with your donor appreciation.1. Say happy birthday!Food Finders Food Bank in Lafayette, Indiana, asks a surprising question on its donation page: What is your birth month and day? No, there isn’t a legal age for donating. Food Finders is collecting birthday information so that they can send donors happy birthday ecards in 2014, says Food Finder’s Director of Development Cheryl Precious. Contacting your donors to celebrate lets them know that you care and keeps you in mind.2. Feature their stories in your newsletter or on your website. Each month, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services features a different volunteer. Why should your nonprofit promote its donors? Highlighting the people you support and the people who support you keeps your mission front and center for everyone. “Donors commit their hard-earned money and time to your cause, so emphasizing them says thanks and gives your nonprofit more credibility,” says Network for Good’s Senior Communication and Success Specialist Annika Pettitt.3. Host a special event.Giving donors a behind-the-scenes experience or hosting programs for them is an exclusive experience that shows your gratitude. The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, hosts donors for a quarterly luncheon and discussion series, as well as special tours. Annika says that unique activities are an extra fun way to encourage a relationship with donors and keep them involved.Image Credit: Shambhu
Is one of your 2014 goals to get your social strategy in order? Here are 10 fun stats on social media that can help you decide how to spend your time.73% of U.S. online adults now use social networking sites. Source: Pew Tweet this.Roughly one-third of the world’s population is now online. Source: We Are Social Tweet this.68% of Instagram’s users are women. Source: Business Insider Tweet this.50% of nonprofit communicators label social media as a “very important” communication tool. Source: Nonprofit Marketing Guide Tweet this.Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks and 150% more retweets. Source: Buffer Tweet this.71% of U.S. online adults are now Facebook users. Source: Pew Tweet this.55% who engaged with causes via social media have been inspired to take further action. Source: Waggener Edstrom Tweet this.In the U.S., users spend 114 billion minutes a month on Facebook. Source: Business Insider Tweet this.70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside of the U.S. Source: 9Clouds Tweet this.40% of Facebook users surveyed say they log in to the social network multiple times per day. Source: Pew Tweet this.Need some help thinking about how to leverage social media for your nonprofit’s outreach strategy? Download this free guide from Network for Good, Social Media Mini Guide for Nonprofits.
As the volunteer coordinator for Gift of Life Michigan, Kim Zasa sent volunteers to church fairs and festivals in the hope that people would want to become organ donors. Although she had 800 volunteers attending countless events, only 11% of Michigan’s residents were organ donors. Today that number is about 33%.So what changed? How did Gift of Life Michigan recruit so many new donors?According to a recent story on NPR, responses changed when Kim convinced the state to have DMV clerks ask customers, “Would you like to be an organ donor?” Putting your ask—and your resources—in the right place at the right time is the key to getting the results you want!1. Determine what’s not working—and be willing to experiment. Kim had an army of volunteers at her disposal who were willing to drive long distances for a cause they believed in. When she didn’t see the results she wanted, she took action. Is there an area of your nonprofit that isn’t seeing the results you’d like? Don’t just assume things will improve. Determine what’s working and what’s not, and then brainstorm about what you can do differently.2. Analyze how you’re using your resources.Instead of sending her volunteers on road trips, Kim put them to work in other ways and employed stationary DMV employees to make the ask. These clerks regularly saw almost the entire adult population of the state, so they were well positioned to speak to more people than Kim’s volunteers were.Are you using the resources you have—both time and money—to their full capacity? Are volunteers solving a pain point for you and helping you in the most beneficial way? If not, how can you modify their tasks to be more effective for your cause?3. Put your question in the right place at the right time.Instead of making the ask in places where people weren’t already making decisions beyond ice cream or cotton candy, Kim combined the ask with an established routine. If someone wanted to become a donor at a festival, they had to take multiple steps and time out of their entertainment to sign up. Making the ask at the DMV made it easy for potential donors to say yes, with no extra action required.Are you positioning your request in the best way possible? Does saying yes require multiple steps that make it less likely you’ll see the result you want? For instance, when you ask for donations online, do your supporters first have to click through multiple pages, or is it simply one click and done? Think about how you can adjust how, when, and where you’re making an ask to better your odds of getting through to your target audience. Have you tried something similar? Share your results and suggestions in the comments below!
Posted on June 12, 2012June 16, 2017By: Elaine Roman, Malaria Team Leader, MCHIPClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)This post is part of a blog series on Malaria in Pregnancy. To view the entire series, click here. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, malaria in pregnancy (MIP) programs are at a crossroads. While many countries have made important strides in achieving their broader goals, most countries are still far from achieving the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Initiative or the US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) (80% to 85%respectively) for intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), and insecticide-treated bed net (ITN) coverage among pregnant women. Case management, the third prong of malaria in pregnancy programs is often forgotten in the implementation of country MIP programs. As countries continue scale-up of MIP interventions, there are successful practices and lessons learned that should be reviewed and applied to help countries accelerate MIP programming and achieve country scale up.Recognizing that there are critical lessons to bring to light, USAID’s flagship Maternal Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), with funding from the President’s Malaria Initiative, conducted country case studies from 2009-2011 to gain a more detailed understanding of MIP programming in three countries: Malawi, Senegal and Zambia. The case studies were compiled using a desk review of secondary data sources, followed by stakeholder interviews designed to gain insights into successes, remaining challenges and a way forward.The case studies reviewed eight key areas of MIP programming- policy, integration, commodities, capacity development, quality improvement, community engagement, monitoring and evaluation and finance. The case studies revealed key insights to MIP programming including what’s working and what remains to be addressed. For each of the eight program areas, in summary, the case studies revealed:1. Policy- While each of the three countries has malaria policies in place that reflect the World Health Organization guidance, there exists inconsistencies between malaria and reproductive health policies in Malawi, which has resulted in duplicative training efforts.2. Integration- Services are integrated at antenatal care (ANC) in each of the three countries, however, national level planning and coordination between reproductive health and malaria programs is not always regular, which impacts program implementation.3. Commodities- While each country reported availability of both medicines for pregnant women and bed-nets, there were stock-outs of these commodities at antenatal care clinics- across countries.4. Capacity Development- All three countries updated both in-service and pre-service education materials with MIP. This positions each country to focus training on evidence-based updates and maintenance of critical MIP competencies.5. Quality Improvement- In each of the 3 countries routine supervision and performance standards are in place. However, due to lack of funding and competing responsibilities among Ministry of Health staff who are tasked with conducting supervision and assessment, comprehensive QA systems are not currently functioning in any of the 3 countries.6. Community Engagement- All 3 countries are actively supporting community involvement to enhance and engender community education and mobilization. Examples include promoting ANC attendance, IPTp uptake and ITN use. However, this support is not consistent and more strategies are required to adequately not only involve communities but also foster the link between communities and facilities.7. Monitoring and Evaluation- While some level of MIP program data is recorded at the health facility, the data is not always integrated as part of the national health information system.8. Finance- While MIP does receive some level of government funding in all 3 countries- there is still heavy reliance on donors- especially PMI and the Global Fund.The case studies highlighted key cross-cutting recommendations including:Promote integration and coordination of reproductive health, HIV and malaria control programs through MIP working groups;Advocate through MIP working groups and other fora to ensure consistent stocks of SP and ITNs at ANC clinics;Increase support for community initiatives to overcome barriers to care-seeking;Dedicate increased resources to strengthening existing M&E systems and integrate data management and data use for decision-making into pre-service education and in-service training programs;Promote capacity-building strategies, including strengthened pre-service education, on-the-job-training, mentorship and supervision, in addition to group-based in-service training; andStrengthen quality assurance systems.Moving forward, MIP implementation will require strong and consistent leadership from ministries of health in order to coordinate donors and implementing partners and target resources towards key interventions. For other malaria-endemic countries, many of the key findings likely apply and can inform programming. Although many obstacles still remain in eradicating malaria and malaria in pregnancy, lessons learned from both our successes and our challenges thus far demonstrate that they are not insurmountable and that the PMI and RBM goals for MIP are still within reach.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
Planning a donor acquisition strategy is similar to planning any other campaign. Start off by reviewing your previous efforts and results. What worked? What didn’t? Your data is a great guide to determining new donor goals.Step 1: Review your current data.Use your donor management system to track information on your current donors and what campaigns attracted their attention and inspired them to give. Find ways to adapt that messaging to reach people unfamiliar with your organization.Look at both your quantitative and qualitative donor data. What trends and patterns do you see? Where did your current donors come from? What motivates them to give? Seek out similar people to grow your donor base.Pro Tip: If you don’t know why your current donors contribute, you may want to hit pause on your acquisition campaign and focus on donor cultivation and retention instead. No point finding new donors only to lose the ones you already have.Step 2: Make a plan based on your findings.Once you’ve reviewed your data, develop a strategy that integrates your development and communications departments. Three essential questions to answer as you plan your approach:How will you research prospects?What’s the best way to approach them?How will you track progress and measure success?An integrated communications strategy involves direct mail, email blasts, social media, and even advertising if it’s in your budget. The purpose is to increase brand awareness and recognition. That way, prospects will recognize you across channels.Step 3: Perform targeted outreach.Now it’s time to get the word out. An awareness campaign is the first touch in donor prospecting. People can’t give to your organization if they don’t know you exist.Amplify awareness by harnessing the power of search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your positioning in online search results.Google AdWords and social media ad campaigns are great ways to capture active donors and amplify awareness online for a small fee. Promote an individual tweet or boost a Facebook post to increase followers or website traffic.Step 4: Keep it simple.It may seem obvious but make it easy to donate. Incorporate these key methods into your online donation process.Feature a donation button prominently on your website.Make your online donation page visually appealing and easy to find and navigate.Clearly identify various donor levels and their respective benefits.Highlight a suggested giving level on your donation page.Encourage monthly giving.Make sure your donation page is secure and mobile-friendly.Include your Charity Navigator or GuideStar rating for additional credibility.Begin engaging donors immediately following their donation with a thank you message on your online donation confirmation page.Invite donors to share their support on social media and join your email list.Incorporate these steps into your next acquisition campaign and see the difference for yourself. For a deeper dive into acquiring new donors, download our eGuide, New Donors: Getting the Ungettable Get.Read more on The Nonprofit Blog
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on November 28, 2016January 6, 2017By: Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The Lancet Maternal Health Series published in September 2016 contains six papers highlighting the importance of improving access to high quality maternal health care for all women across the globe. In paper 5, “Next generation maternal health: External shocks and health-system innovations,” Kruk and colleagues discuss how social, political, environmental and demographic changes will influence the future of global maternal health and highlight key health system innovations with potential for large impact.External shocksThe authors review a number of rapid societal and health system changes or “external shocks” that are anticipated over the next two decades, focusing on those that they believe will have the greatest influence on maternal health.Rise in domestic health financingIn the coming years, external donor funding and international aid for health financing is projected to decline, and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in particular will need to boost domestic financing. Despite evidence that spending on health is a wise investment, many countries lack the political will to allocate sufficient resources. The vast majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, designate less than 15% of their national budgets to health. While initiatives such as the Global Financing Facility offer hope for continued financial investment, LMICs will need to prioritize maternal health to improve access, utilization and quality of care.Shifts in governance for healthUnder the Millennium Development Goals, maternal health was a stand-alone goal. Now that the world has transitioned to the Sustainable Development Goals, maternal health is just one focus area within the broader goal to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.” Continued prioritization of maternal health is crucial given this broader framework. Furthermore, there has been a trend towards fragmentation in governance and financing related to maternal health: For example, the introduction of related initiatives focused on newborns, adolescents, family planning and nutrition, while important, may complicate priority setting and dilute funding for maternal health programs. Ensuring the synergy of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health efforts will amplify collective impact.UrbanizationAccording to the United Nations, about 66% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. Fifteen years ago, 39% of births occurred in urban areas; The authors project that in 2030, that figure will rise to 52%. Urbanization carries a number of benefits for pregnant women including reduced travel time to health facilities and a higher ratio of well-trained providers to patients. However, the rich-poor gap can be even larger in cities compared to rural areas. Additionally, many families move from rural areas to urban slums, where quality of care and people’s overall health status tend to be poor. To respond to the effects of urbanization, countries will need to strengthen their health systems and prepare for higher demand for services in cities.EmergenciesInfectious disease outbreaks, armed conflict and natural disasters due to climate change create a double burden by increasing the demand for health services and decreasing the capacity of health systems to provide those services. Pregnant women and children are disproportionately affected by such humanitarian crises. One study found that the maternal mortality ratios (MMRs) of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that recently experienced armed conflict were 45% higher than those that did not. Following the Ebola virus outbreak, maternal mortality has risen dramatically in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, whose current MMR is approximately 1,360 deaths per 100,000 live births. More recently, the Zika virus has created unique challenges related to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Health systems must become more resilient to ensure that women and children receive the care they need during emergencies.Health-system innovationsUniversal health coverageThe goal of universal health coverage (UHC) is to ensure that everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, receives essential health services without suffering financial hardship. UHC has the potential to improve maternal health by expanding coverage of maternity services, as well as access to care for chronic illnesses, non-communicable diseases and other conditions affecting women before, during and after pregnancy. Countries including Mexico and Rwanda have improved poor women’s access to health services by instituting national health insurance programs. However, the authors astutely point out that access alone will not improve outcomes: Quality of care is also critical.Behavioral economicsEvidence from behavioral economics illustrates the power of psychological factors in driving decision-making. People do not always make informed, rational decisions, especially those experiencing the daily stresses associated with poverty. Public health professionals can help address this challenge by implementing programs that encourage people to make better decisions about their health. Strategies include using a default choice, framing information differently and providing economic incentives such as cash transfers. Such programs need to be rigorously evaluated in diverse contexts.mhealthMobile health or “mhealth” is a relatively new field that leverages the growing accessibility of cell phones around the world, even in low-resource settings. Many countries, communities and health facilities have integrated mhealth into patient education interventions, data collection systems and performance-based payments for providers. Additional research evaluating the effectiveness of such programs is needed to better understand how these strategies can help improve maternal health.—Read summaries of other papers in The Lancet Maternal Health Series.Subscribe to get the MHTF blog delivered straight to your inbox.Share this:
Morocco2% (1992)16% (2011) Dominican Republic20% (1991)56.4% (2013) 4. Iran: 47.9% (2009)4. Timor-Leste: 1.7% (2009) 10. Italy: 38.1% (2011)10. Gambia: 2.5% (2010) 1. Dominican Republic: 56.4% (2013)1. Niger: 1.4% (2012) Egypt4.6% (1992)51.8% (2014) Posted on January 25, 2017January 30, 2017By: Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Read Part 1 here.Trends over timeIn 1990, roughly one in 15 babies on the planet was born via cesarean section surgery. In 2014, one in five babies was born via cesarean. The rates have increased dramatically over the past few decades in most regions, with the fastest growth taking place in North Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. There is substantial variation within regions, with certain countries experiencing more rapid increases than others. Highest National Cesarean RatesLowest National Cesarean Rates ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Romania7.2% (1992)36.3% (2011) 7. Colombia: 43.4% (2012)7. Nigeria: 2% (2013) Considering data and measurement limitations is important when interpreting trends. Currently, there is no standard, internationally-accepted classification system to measure and monitor cesarean rates, which presents challenges when attempting to make comparisons between locations or time periods. Despite this limitation, though, available data illustrate a clear upward trend in most parts of the world.Wide geographic variationThe highest cesarean rates are mostly found in middle-income countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia, while the lowest rates are found in sub-Saharan Africa. National cesarean section rates vary widely, ranging from less than 2% of births in Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Niger and Timor-Leste—where many women do not have access to safe cesareans when they need them—to greater than 40% in Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Iran, Maldives, Mexico and Turkey. CountryPrevious Cesarean Rate (Year)Current Cesarean Rate (Year) 5. Turkey: 47.5% (2011)5. Burkina Faso: 1.9% (2010) There is also wide variation within countries depending on location. For example, in the United States, facility-level cesarean rates ranged from 7.1% to 69.9% in 2009. Similarly, cesarean rates in China ranged from 4% to 62.5% in 2014 across provinces.Read Part 3 here.Graphs and adapted tables from Betrán et al. The increasing trend in caesarean section rates: Global, regional and national estimates: 1990-2014. PLOS One 2016; 11 (2): e0148343.—Read a statement about the prevention of primary cesareans from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.Share this: 8. Maldives: 41.1% (2011)8. Guinea-Bissau: 2.3% (2010) China4.4% (1990)36.2% (2011) 3. Egypt: 51.8% (2014)3. Ethiopia: 1.5% (2011) 6. Mexico: 45.2% (2012)6. Madagascar: 1.9% (2013) Mexico12.4% (1987)45.2% (2012) Colombia16% (1990)43.4% (2012) Georgia3.8% (1990)36.7% (2012) Turkey8% (1993)47.5% (2011) 2. Brazil: 55.6% (2012)2. Chad: 1.5% (2010) 9. Uruguay: 39.9% (2012)9. Guinea: 2.4% (2012)
Photo: Midwife Zainab Manserray, who runs a clinic in Sierra Leone. Courtesy of Abbie Traylor/H6 Partners.“Midwives play a vital role in the health care of mothers and babies,” said Samara Ferrara, a midwife from Mexico, at the Wilson Center on February 27. But in many parts of the world they face a confluence of stressors that make working conditions miserable: low and irregular pay; harassment and disrespect from both patients and doctors; and little supplies, training or say in the policy dialogue about maternal health.While there is never any excuse for abusing patients, such conditions can lead to poor quality of care for mothers and newborns, as well as burn out among midwives themselves.Starting in 2014, the World Health Organization, International Confederation of Midwives and White Ribbon Alliance, with support from USAID, began a first-of-its-kind global survey of midwives to gain a greater appreciation of the challenges they face.After surveying 2,470 midwives from 93 countries, they published the results in Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Realties. In total, more than a third of those interviewed said they experienced harassment, lack of security or fear of violence. Fifty eight percent felt they were treated with respect, said Mary-Ellen Stanton, senior maternal health advisor at USAID’s Bureau for Global Health.“This report is not just about problems; the midwives have identified solutions, and we need to look at them carefully and see what can be implemented,” said Stanton.Burnout and over-medicalizationIt’s hard to overstate the importance of midwives to maternal health outcomes, said Frances Day-Stirk, president of the International Confederation of Midwives. According to the UNFPA’s 2014 State of the World’s Midwifery Report, out of the 73 countries that account for 96 percent of maternal deaths worldwide, only 4 had the potential midwifery workforce to deliver essential interventions.There is growing evidence that midwives help reduce maternal mortality rates in a number of ways, including by assisting with family planning and distributing reproductive health services, providing prenatal consults and attending births and leading community-based interventions to educate women about normal birth processes and prevent complications. Some call this the “midwife effect.” Investing in midwifery and listening to midwives can result in a 16-fold return on investment, according to the World Health Organization.But not every health system is embracing midwives. Twenty years ago, almost half of all births in Mexico were attended by midwives; now the rate is down to two percent, said Ferrara. Most births are now attended by physicians in private clinics and “over-medicalization” is the challenge. From 2006 to 2012, almost 50 percent of births in Mexico were planned or emergency cesarean births, a high rate for such a major surgery than can have significant effects on the mother and newborn.In Malawi, Nancy Kamwendo, a national coordinator for White Ribbon Alliance with more than 10 years of experience working in the midwifery field, said the problem is not enough midwives to meet demand. Even in the best districts, the ratio of childbearing women to midwives may be more than 800 to 1 (the World Health Organization recommends a ratio of 175 to 1). In addition, midwives work on average more than 58 hours a week, Kamwendo said, go months without being paid and operate in unsafe conditions that require them to travel long distances.“You can find one midwife at a health center,” Kamwendo said. “This one midwife will have to provide family planning care, antenatal care, labor delivery, postnatal care, neonatal care – one person, 24 hours.”A matter of voiceThe report emphasizes that when midwifery is sidelined as “women’s work,” its value is diminished, midwives face moral distress and burn out and the quality of their care declines.Some two-thirds of the global health workforce are made up of women, and on a certain level the challenges facing midwifery – professional, socio-cultural, economic – are deeply rooted in gender inequality, said Fran McConville, technical officer of midwifery for the World Health Organization.“It has to do with women’s status in society,” she said. “We have, frankly, a very big job to do around gender, power, politics and money and how those…things come together and link to undermine the health and wellbeing of women and newborns, as well as the midwives who are caring for them.”With this context in mind, one of the major goals of the survey was to give voice to midwives, tabulating their perspectives on issues such as vulnerability to physical and sexual assault, infrequent and inadequate wages and hierarchies of power in which midwives are not respected by senior medical staff. The sheer number of respondents is proof of a clear desire to share their stories, said Day-Stirk.Midwives have frontline experience that should be incorporated into the policymaking process, said McConville. “It strikes me that in all of these organizations, maternal and newborn health has been huge for decades, but the people doing the talking are not actually the people caring for women and newborns in the normal sense.”Ferrara said that as a midwife, the experiences shared in the survey rang true to her. “That’s the way we feel, and it has not been expressed in an official way before,” she said. “I think that’s a very big step to come forward and to listen to midwives’ voices.”Getting to appreciation and leadershipGetting more midwives into decision-making positions is the ultimate solution to the disconnect between demand and action, said McConville. Providing better education and training would attract talented and ambitious young people. Strengthening communication networks between midwives, meanwhile, would amplify feedback from young midwives so concerns can be taken up by senior midwives.McConville also recommended government and non-government organizations working in maternal health address at least two of the overlapping professional, sociocultural and economic barriers identified in the survey.Organizations like the World Health Organization have become more sensitive to the challenges around midwifery, balancing concerns about quality of care for patients and quality of life for midwives. And reports like Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Realities and The Lancet Maternal Health Series have helped people understand how to talk about it.In some middle and high income countries where over-medicalization is a problem, Ferrara said the challenge is helping people understand the added value of having a midwife present over a surgical or non-attended birth. “We have come to a point that we realize that it’s not enough to survive birth,” she said. “We want the best experience for mothers and babies, and we know that midwives can provide the kind of care that we want for future generations.”“My hope is that the midwifery profession will receive as much respect as possible, commensurate with what they are providing for women and their families,” said Stanton, “that we will raise the attention of the professionalism of midwifery to get the positive appreciation from women, from communities, from their employers and from policymakers.”Event Resources:Photo GalleryVideo This post originally appeared on New Security Beat.–Read a summary of the “Midwives’ Voices, Midwives’ Realities” report on the MHTF blog.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on March 16, 2017June 21, 2017By: Nancy Chong, Intern, Maternal Health InitiativeClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)
Posted on October 25, 2017October 25, 2017By: Catharine H. Taylor, Vice President, Health Programs Group, Management Sciences for Health; Dai Hozumi, Senior Director, Health Technologies, Management Sciences for Health; JoAnn Paradis, Strategic Communications Advisor, Management Sciences for HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Advances in health technologies have reshaped the lives of communities, families and individuals, undoubtedly contributing to better health outcomes around the world. For the most vulnerable populations, technology may significantly improve access to preventive, diagnostic and treatment services and help increase demand for greater quality care. Yet, despite their potential, new technologies can also add new challenges, risking potential gains in quality, safety or cost. Particularly in settings where health systems are weak, the introduction of technological interventions requires thoughtful execution.Take the case of ultrasound technology. Used during routine antenatal visits, ultrasound scans have the potential to change the scenario for many pregnant women who face complications. If combined with proper skills, knowledge and quality-assurance, this technology could help identify high risk pregnancies and establish an accurate gestational age in order to improve obstetric care. Many low- and middle-income countries are seeing a rapid introduction of this technology into their health systems, accelerated by a dramatic rise in demand that has been driven in part by medical staff, local advertising, falling prices and a greater availability and range of ultrasound devices.Yet ultrasounds are not proven to lead to better outcomes for women and newborns in low-income countries, and without the proper focus on their introduction and use, we risk the efficiency and effectiveness of health systems and expose women and newborns to unnecessary technological interventions. That’s why, just last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued recommendations on antenatal care endorsing one scan in early pregnancy in low-income countries alongside guidance for staff training and proper use of this technology.The realities on the groundWe recently visited a health center in the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, which had just introduced an ultrasound machine for antenatal care. Like many others, the doctor at this health center was looking to take advantage of this imaging technology to provide better care to his patients. Despite the guidelines calling for only one ultrasound scan in early pregnancy, a woman we met proudly shared with us four photographs she obtained through repeated scans, even though there were no abnormalities or issues identified throughout her pregnancy. We’ve encountered instances like these in several countries, bringing into question essential governance aspects including the right policies, oversight and mechanisms for evidence-based decision-making, and highlighting potential ethical issues around the use of this technology. Was the doctor equipped with the right skills or understanding behind the proper use of ultrasound? Were there additional unnecessary costs and burdens for the woman and her family, who may have been lulled into a false sense of security that repeated scans would ensure a better outcome for mother and baby?Given the WHO recommendation and the ubiquity of ultrasound devices, the real question becomes: How do we ensure health systems are robust enough to effectively and safely take advantage of this technology?There appear to be major gaps in policies, planning and oversight to support the introduction of ultrasound technology, especially outside the more specialized hospital setting. At Management Sciences for Health we support governments in their efforts to build strong adaptive systems that meet the needs of the populations they serve. The case of antenatal ultrasound highlights three specific issues:Adequate procurement and a strong supply chain: Our experiences in helping governments improve procurement and supply chain management highlight critical issues that affect how technology takes root and delivers on its potential. Ultrasound technology has advanced to allow for different types of imaging and functionalities, ranging in price from USD $2,000 to $15,000. Determining which one meets the specific needs of a local health system requires thoughtful procurement policies and effective distribution and placement. In addition to regular supplies such as jelly, paper towels, printers, etc., the processes and costs required to maintain the accuracy and sensitivity of the ultrasound equipment, including servicing malfunctioning machines, must be carefully considered within health systems – and these are influenced by the machine specifications. Of course, power supply requirements are also important considerations for health centers that frequently experience electricity outages and voltage fluctuations.A well-functioning referral mechanism: Because the effectiveness of this intervention relies on the ability of screened women to seek care depending on the screening results, it is also essential for a functional referral system to be in place. Health workers and sonographers must be able to support informed decision-making, and women with high risk pregnancies must be able to reach the referral hospital – one which must be equipped to handle the level of care that screening indicates, including emergency obstetric and newborn care. The value of the ultrasound screening is diminished when this is not in place, or when women are unable to cover the additional costs of transportation and hospital care and treatment. As illustrated in a study published recently on the implementation of ultrasound technologies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these challenges represent enormous barriers for the most vulnerable populations.Strong governance for health: As a screening tool, the ultrasound depends on a process or a decision-making algorithm that allows health workers to adequately act on the information gathered. Nurses and midwives – the cadres who might typically perform this intervention at health centers – must have the policies, consistent training and ongoing supervision to use the technology, analyze the results and take appropriate actions. These elements, and a sound system of quality assurance and data management, will protect the health of women and newborns and prevent health workers from misdiagnosing patients.Above all, to realize the power of technology in any setting, but most importantly in low-resource countries, we must understand their specific circumstances, and support governments to establish appropriate policies, good governance and ethical standards as a foundation for appropriate use of technology. This requires structural changes within the health system and partnership with businesses involved in the manufacturing and selling of ultrasound devices. Only then can we ensure that ultrasound technology – or any technology – delivers on its promise.This post originally appeared on Next Billion Health Care as “The Complex Truth of Health Tech: Why Greater Ultrasound Availability Doesn’t Always Benefit Patients.”Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:  Are men ready to use thermal male contraception? Acceptability in two French populations: New fathers and new providers Male Contraceptive Development: Update on Novel Hormonal and Nonhormonal Methods Modeling the impact of novel male contraceptive methods on reductions in unintended pregnancies in Nigeria, South Africa, and the United States Potential impact of hormonal male contraception: cross-cultural implications for development of novel preparations Update on male hormonal contraception Beyond the Condom: Frontiers in Male Contraception RISUG: An instravasal injectable male contraceptive https://www.parsemus.org/projects/vasalgel/ Why We Still Don’t Have Birth Control Drugs for Men Stealthing: What You Need to Knowhttps://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03452111 Efficacy and Safety of an Injectable Combination Hormonal Contraceptive for Men https://arstechnica.com/features/2018/02/more-than-half-a-century-later-wheres-the-male-pill/ Dundee University researchers start work on male pill Male contraception: Another holy grail https://www.packard.org/grants-and-investments/grants-database/parsemus-foundation/ Reproductive Motivation and Family-Size Preferences among Nigerian Men ‘Rape-Adjacent’: Imagining Legal Responses to Nonconsensual Condom RemovalShare this: Posted on October 18, 2019October 18, 2019By: Emily Gerson, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Disclaimer: While we recognize that not all people with male sex organs identify as men, we will be using the terms “men/male” to refer to people with penises and “women/female” to refer to people with uteri. We apologize for the cis- and heteronormativity that this promotes.Although it is impossible to become pregnant without contribution from a man, the contraception industry has virtually ignored their role in procreation, leaving their options stagnant in condom use, vasectomies, and the withdrawal method. Men who have female partners are frequently involved in conversations regarding birth control, but a man educating himself and encouraging his partner’s usage is wildly different from actual willingness to subject himself to the arduous administration methods and unpredictable side effects that come to be expected with contraceptives.Research has demonstrated that men are not opposed to using contraception if it means safer sex and a shared burden between partners. Male contraception could revolutionize family planning; combining it with female contraception could relieve worry from partners where a woman uses the pill, or similar contraceptives with high user error rates. Still, a lack of knowledge and research holds back progress, and attitudes towards male contraception vary based on location and contraceptive. For instance, 44% of men in Hong Kong expressed willingness to try a male pill compared to 83% of white men in Cape Town, and 32% of men in Edinburgh expressed willingness to try an injectable compared with 62% of white men in Cape Town.This is not to say that research has not been done on this regard. In fact, international research into the idea of male contraception began in the 1970s, and there are numerous male contraception options in very early stages of development, with several drawing more attention than others.So, what are some of the products being tested? From injectables to thermal underwear, methods with varying amounts of hormones (as well as non-hormonal methods) have demonstrated effectiveness, with the drawbacks mainly being unpleasant side effects and demanding means of execution.Hormonal methods Male hormonal contraceptives work by suppressing gonadotropins (hormones which stimulate the activity of the gonads) release from the pituitary, inducing the suppression of spermatogenesis (the development of mature sperm cells). Thousands of healthy men have enrolled in clinical trials of male hormonal contraceptives with a nearly universal return of steroid production and spermatogenesis function once the contraceptives are stopped.Large, international studies have demonstrated testosterone’s efficiency in suppressing sperm concentrations, while further research has found that testosterone alone is not as efficient as testosterone plus a progestin, both in the rate and extent of suppression of spermatogenesis.Testosterone clears quickly from the system when taken orally, and multiple doses per day is impractical, thus rendering the implementation of a male pill improbable. Hormonal injections are among the most widely researched male contraceptive options, and have been found to be extremely effective, with sperm function returning to normal after discontinuation. In a trial evaluating a testosterone injectable, 61% of the 44 participants who completed the 1-year exposure period rated the injectable as excellent or good and 79% indicated that they would use it if it were available.The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Contraceptive Research And Development Program (CONRAD) analyzed testosterone undecanoate (TU) and norethisterone enanthate (NETE) in a large efficacy study, however after mild to moderate mood changes were noted in some of the participants, an external safety review committee recommended stopping further injections before the planned end of the study. The most common mood change, found in 16.9% of participants, was categorized as “emotional disorder,” with 63 participants ranking the disorder as “mild,” two ranking it as “moderate” and zero as “severe.” The next most common mood change was mood swings, found in 4.7% of participants, with 16 participants ranking the mood swings as “mild,” three ranking them as “moderate” and zero as “severe.”  Although the side effects seem tame when quantified like this, one participant is thought to have taken their own life and another attempted to do so during the trial. WHO and CONRAD will not be moving forward in clinical trials, as there is no more funding available to retest another formulation.Other methods of delivery are also being tested. Nestorone, a transdermal testosterone gel, showed effective suppression of gonadotropins when used for 20 days. With no injections necessary, the gel would be widely accepted, and an encouraging trial showed that most failure was due to inconsistent or nonuse of products, not failure of product’s effectiveness. Nestorone is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials.Non-hormonal methods Perhaps the most recognizable non-hormonal method is RISUG, an injectable form of long acting reversible contraception (LARC) that began development in India in the early 1980s. RISUG has been in clinical trials for decades, with Phase 1 and Phase 2 published in 1993 and 1997, and Phase 3 in 2003. The longest duration of the RISUG bearer was over 13 years.Intellectual property rights to RISUG were acquired by NGO Parsemus Foundation in 2010. Parsemus used the RISUG technology to create Vasalgel, which claims to have a different polymer and formulation than RISUG. Parsemus has performed preclinical studies in rabbits and monkeys, and intends to begin trials in humans in 2020, although human trial start dates had previously been projected for 2018 and 2019. According to the Parsemus website, “The procedure is similar to a no-scalpel vasectomy, except a gel is injected into the vas deferens (the tube the sperm swim through), rather than cutting the vas (as is done in vasectomy). If a man wishes to restore flow of sperm, whether after months or years, the polymer would be dissolved and flushed out.” However, until drug companies choose to allocate funds to and put priority on testing Vasalgel, progress will be extremely difficult.Another fascinating non-hormonal option is thermal contraception. This is based on the notion that in human males, testicular temperature is 2-5 degrees Celsius lower than core body temperature, so when testicular temperature is increased, sperm output is reduced. Specific thermal underwear lifts testes closer to the body and warms them by 2 degrees Celsius. A French study found that males enjoyed that the underwear was natural and non-invasive but expressed concern over the need to wear it continuously.So, what’s stopping progress?Researchers have been playing around with the idea of male contraception for decades, but a lack of urgency surrounds the issue. Regardless of ample enthusiasm for the idea, the fact remains that pursuing male contraceptives like the ones described above would involve significant effort on the part of both male volunteers and the male-led pharmaceutical industry. Myriad hormonal and non-hormonal methods have been studied at least partially, but these studies receive little funding and almost no media attention, and abandonment and incompletion are rampant. Public access to male contraception requires completed and successful clinical trials, which in turn require significant funds and far more participants. Pharmaceutical companies have expressed little interest in male contraception, presumably because the complex drug would not become profitable for many years.Clinical trials that managed to amass the funding and subjects have been cut short due to side effects, such as mood swings, that are frequently associated with female hormonal contraception methods that millions use every day. Should men have to deal with the same side effects women do for the sake of family planning? Well, the flaws in female contraception, despite their use as an argument for leniency in male contraception development, also detract from funding towards male birth control, as better, more effective female contraception is also a public health goal. Sure, women endure severe adverse effects in the name of family planning, but they also have far more at stake, leaving them more likely to deem the side effects worth the risk.Organizations that fund contraception research and promotion are unlikely to divert all of their focus away from women’s health and onto men’s when there is still so much work to be done in achieving access to the family planning options already on the market. Yet, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation have both directed funds towards male contraception research. It’s important to note, though, that female contraception and its role in empowering women from low resource areas continues to be of higher priority.Further, male contraception would not eliminate, or even necessarily reduce, the need for female contraception. Even in a hypothetical near future where male birth control is cheap, safe, and accessible, for men to become the sole bearer of contraceptive responsibility the hypothetical future would also need to be one where women can trust the intentions of all men that they are sexually intimate with. Unfortunately, the latter concept proves to be elusive. It is impossible to tell if a potential partner has a long acting reversible contraceptive (LARC), like Vasalgel, and a pill would be easy to lie about having taken. With their bodies, finances, and futures on the line, women might not trust that men are telling the truth. With the prevalence of “stealthing,” the act of secretly removing the condom without the knowledge of the partner, this is not an unfounded fear. Research has shown that men generally desire larger families than women do, and in many cultures women are left out of reproductive decisions. “Stealthing” is rooted in the patriarchal notion that man’s pleasure and his “right” to extend his bloodline justify violating a woman’s bodily autonomy. Covert male contraception could make the abusive behavior even easier. Men are not the only perpetrators of reproductive manipulation, however. Male contraception would grant agency to men who fear being coerced into fatherhood by a deceptive partner. They would not have to carry the child, but fatherhood is itself far too heavy of a responsibility to risk if one is not fully prepared.Though male birth control would not replace its female counterpart, significant interest has been gauged due to the anticipated benefits. While male contraception is unlikely to be publicly available any time soon, it is not yet a lost cause. Nestorone transdermal gel’s clinical trial is estimated to complete by 2021, and Parsemus is currently accepting donations to fund its research. Very recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation allotted a grant of about $900,000 (£716,670) to Dundee University in Scotland for research into a male pill. The progress may be slow, but the science is there, and it is promising.
Advertisement Every year when I get ready to go to Montreal I wonder how long it is that I’ve been going. This year I found actual proof that I’ve been going for more than 25 years because I actually found my “VIP” pass from 1992, and I know it wasn’t the first year I went. The festival was only 10 years old and the pass was laminated but my name was written in marker and the pass was on a string. A plain white string. I brought it with me to show Paul Ronca, whose official title reads, “Director of Industry and Special Events Programming”. He’s the guy who works tirelessly to make sure that everything comes off right.So during the festival I get into the elevator and who’s in there but Maureen Taran, currently an executive with truTV, just upped to the position of VP of Talent, but in those days was working at the festival in logistics. I show her the pass and she’s like, “Jeffrey, that’s my handwriting. I wrote out that pass for you in 1992, 25 years ago.” And she couldn’t believe it was on a string and that “Victor” the JFL gremlin’s logo was colored in green on my pass which meant something special. She actually remembered doing it but she couldn’t recall what it was. It was really amazing that of all people I happened to show it to her and she remembered writing it so long ago.Since that time literally millions of jokes have been told at JFL, and I was there to hear a lot of them. This festival was the 35th and somehow magically seems to get bigger every year. My main focus besides seeing as many shows as I could, was covering the two main red carpet events, one for Kevin Hart’s LOL Network, where I hoped to interview Kevin, and the other was the JFL Awards honoring Trevor Noah as the Comedy Person of the Year, Kenya Barris as the Comedy Writer of the Year, Ali Wong as the Breakout Comedy Star of the Year, Mike Birbiglia as the Stand-Up Comedian of the Year, Craig Ferguson getting the Alumni Tribute an award created just for him, and to me the biggest was Jim Carrey receiving the Generation Award being presented to him by no less than Judd Apatow, now not only the King of Hollywood but also the King of cable TV. Twitter LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Advertisement Login/Register With: Advertisement It would be impossible to describe my time there in chronological order so I’m going to present some of the highlights in no particular order. It starts at the airport coming and going. Going up was with the APA team and Rick Glassman. Coming home it was Corinne Fisher, and Krystyna Hutchinson, New Face star Blair Socci, and Nathan Macintosh with Aaron Berg. Funny story about Aaron. I’m just about to sign in for the Kevin Hart red carpet. The woman asks me my name and before I get a chance to answer, literally at that very second, Aaron comes down the street with Annie Lederman yelling out at the top of his voice, “Is that Jeffrey Gurian? Look Annie it’s Jeffrey Gurian!” and the woman from the PR company says, “Well I guess you’re Jeffrey Gurian,” and signs me right in. The timing couldn’t have been better!”It was the David Spade Gala watching Godfrey, Sarah Tiana, the Lucas Brothers and Jeffrey Ross kill it for the cameras. Then it was the Colin Jost/Michael Che Gala for TV where they came out to a high-energy standing ovation which seemed to shock them both by its intensity. It’s obvious they have so much fun performing together and evidenced by their opening. They not only co-host Weekend Update but are also really good friends, and we all hung out to celebrate at the hotel lobby bar afterwards long into the night. Phil Hanley crushed on that show as did Lil Rel, Jim Norton and Steve Byrne who Colin said was the first comic to ever take him on the road and to whom he was very grateful.I was hanging with Big Jay Oakerson at his What’s Your Fucking Deal show, and seeing Kevin Hart hold court at a security sectioned-off site in the lobby with Russell Peters, Bryan Callen, Sherrod Small, Tony Rock, and whoever else was let past the watchful eye of Kevin’s security. He’s always well protected wherever he goes, and before I even saw Kevin just seeing a section of the lobby cordoned off I kind of knew it would be Kevin. When he came over to greet me I told him I’d be seeing him the next day on the red carpet.I attended the press junket for CNN’s History of Comedy docu-series which is a gift to all true fans of comedy and got to videotape an interview with W. Kamau Bell a frequent guest on the show along with Mark Herzog one of the Executive Producers.It was Andy Kindler’s annual State of the Industry speech which he told me he’s been doing for 22 years, which followed directly after the JFL Awards show and the Guys We Fucked Live Experience with my girls Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson who had a sold out show at the Maison Theatre, which had to have held at least 500 people. In their prank call section of the show, they called a guy who does gay porn for money but claims to be straight, to get even with him for breaking up with a girl who had sex with him raw, and after offering him a gay porn gig got him to admit he was gay on the phone. In the airport on the way home, the girls told me they thought it was their best prank call ever.It was Comedy 101’s late night show sponsored by The Interrobang hosted by Ron Bennington and Gail Bennington with judges Jim Norton, Jimmy Schubert, and Dan Soder plus surprise judge Tommy Johnagin. Comedy 101’s been killing it at shows in NY, and it’s basically new comics coming up and being judged kindly and sometimes not so kindly by highly experienced comics.It was the Comedy Central party in the hotel lobby that went on till about 4 A.M. and unlike me I stayed till the end, and it was also the exclusive Funny or Die party in what they call “The Esplanade” of the Place Des Artes, a HUGE space that was taken up by thousands of comedians and their guests eating poutine and drinking their heads off while dancing to really cool music provided by a D.J. who was spinning till 3 A.M., at which time I left with Annie Lederman and Jeffrey Ross to head over to the after-party. On the way over we had a conversation about energy, healing, and TMJ problems, and Jeffrey told me about his next special he just shot for Comedy Central on immigration. Annie, who often opens for Jim Norton, told me about her first feature film coming out soon called “The Long Dumb Road” in which she plays Ron “Office Space” Livingston’s wife. Jason Mantzoukas is also in it and it was written by her friend Hanna Fidell. When I finally dragged myself out at 4:30 A.M. it was still going strong with Yamaneika Saunders and Calise Hawkins holding it down on the dance floor. It wasn’t till I got home and looked at my photos that I saw that the photo I took with Annie was photo bombed by Michael Che.It was the Superior Donuts cast panel in the Grand Salon room of the Hyatt, where I got to congratulate my old friend Jermaine Fowler on not only co-starring in his role as Franco, but also on being an Executive Producer of the show. Seeing Judd Hirsch and Katey Sagal there was also very special as was Judd’s take on working with Andy Kaufman, who he said was very hard to get to know. He showed up for a few days as Tony Clifton, and was late and uncooperative to the point where they had to fire Tony Clifton and someone had to call Andy to tell Tony he was being fired. Judd also told of the first time he met Jermaine at a table read and had to ask, “ Who the heck are you?” Jermaine is always, and has always been very humble and seems to be handling his stardom very well.I was hanging out with Noam Dworman and George Buchalter, partners in The Comedy Cellar when I felt someone come up behind me and embrace me, and it turned out to be Paul Provenzawho was up there doing both of his shows Set List and The Green Room. Paul and I got to spend some meaningful time together on our way home from Comedy 101 and while sharing a donut and ice tea, ( his treat!), he said I was probably one of his oldest friends in comedy. We met on a radio show hosted by Jackie Mason back in the early 80’s. Jackie was filling in for Bob Grant and Paul was starring in a play called “Only Kidding” at the time. Paul had chipped a tooth on stage and Jackie suggested he come to me to get it fixed. Paul said, “Why would I go to a comedy writer to get my tooth fixed” and after I fixed it for him he understood why, and went back on stage with a perfectly bonded tooth!It was the Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here panel the night before the JFL Awards red carpet where I went specifically to see Jim Carrey and the other stars of the show. It’s very rare to see a star of Jim Carrey’s caliber anywhere but JFL gets them the way it did this year with Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Hart. But I’ve been watching and enjoying the show and wanted to see Michael Angarano, Erik Griffin and Andrew Santino all of whom I had the chance to meet and talk to at the Funny or Die party. That was really a highlight for me. There’s something special about watching someone on TV and feeling you know them and like them and then getting to meet them in person.Andrew Santino and I discussed how hard it is for him to play Bill Hobbs, such a detestable character on the show and how he has to work hard not to bring that energy home with him to his wife at the end of the day. He said he learned for the first time how hard it is to not take home work, and that he had to learn to center himself to get rid of that negative energy. It’s a true testament to his talent that he can play someone so unlike himself. It was very special for me to have such an in depth conversation with someone in the midst of a crazy party. That doesn’t happen often. He’s a really spiritual guy! Very special!And Erik Griffin who plays Ralph, is such a strong presence on the show and told me about his new special “The Ugly Truth” which debuted on July 7th and was the highest rated special on Showtime. And Michael Angarano who plays new comic Eddie Zeidel told me about his friendship with his on-screen pal Clark Duke who plays Ron Shack. He said his part felt comfortable from the very beginning and that he and Clark were best friends when they were 7 years old. Then they hadn’t seen each other for a long time, and then just by coincidence both were cast in the show and met up again at a table read. Michael’s been acting since he was 6 and did a pilot with co-star Ari Graynor when they were both 9 years old. He also did a film with Melissa Leo when he was 15 and another one in which she “roofied” him and seduced him.During the panel Jim discussed going on stage for the first time at 15 at Yuk Yuks and tried imitating people on the Carol Burnett Show, bombing so badly he didn’t try again for two years. he said when he came back at 17 he did much better and when he went home where he lived with his parents he started getting perfumed letters from fans with lipstick on them and then his parents understood why he said he had such a good time. He made a lot of crazy Jim Carrey faces and was very physical in his answers. He told some really fun stories about sharing a joint with Richard Pryor, and his interactions with a young Sam Kinison.I was at the HBO’s Vice Principals cast moderated by the never tired Ron Bennington, with Danny McBride, Walton Goggins, Georgia King, Edi Patterson, and Kimberly Hebert Gregoryalong with the producers. I’m a fan of Walton’s and Danny from his Eastbound and Down days, but had never seen the show. The panel was so interesting that when I got home from Montreal last night as tired as I was I watched two episodes. Can’t wait to watch the rest.I was at the outdoor presentation of Josh Adam Meyers’ Goddamn Comedy Jam. I don’t know how he keeps his voice intact with all the yelling he does on stage but he’s amazing. They did the show in a few different venues but I wanted to see it on the outdoor stage which was incredible. Great performances by Dulce Sloan, Sasheer Zamata, Big Jay Oakerson, Adam Ray and Erik Griffin, and then me and the Bennington crew hung out in the street just chilling till late. They said they saw me at Godamn Comedy Jam and tried to call out to me but I didn’t hear them over the noise.It was running into Kurt Braunohler and his wife Lauren Cook in the elevator on their way to do their podcast Wedlock, which they just started in April available on Audible, and it was running into Donnell Rawlings just after he crushed on Jane Krakowski’s gala who told me he’ll be opening for Dave Chappelle in 10 out of his 15 shows at Radio City starting August 1.I’d have to say the most special part to me was the JFL Awards red carpet and show that followed where I got to interview just about all the award recipients and the presenters. Natasha Leggeropresented to Kenya Barris and was followed on the red carpet by her husband Moshe Kasher, Alonzo Bodden who was the host kept up a running gag throughout the show asking each person to keep him in mind if they needed a character to play a security guard, and he made it work, Jay Baruchel who presented the award to Craig Ferguson and who told me he gave himself the mohawk haircut he was sporting, W. Kamau Bell who presented to Ali Wong, Jimmy Carr who presented to Mike Birbiglia, Jeff Ross who presented to Trevor Noah, and Judd Apatow who presented to Jim Carrey.Mike Birbiglia said of Jimmy Carr, “he always looks like he’s dressed to give an award.” and then said he was always promised a TV deal which he never got, and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him.Judd Apatow had great stories in his intro of Jim Carrey. As a young comedy writer he used to write sketches for Jim for “In Living Color” in hopes of Jim getting more screen time and although he wasn’t considered part of the show Jim paid him 5G’s out of his own pocket to write for him. Judd introduced Jim to his fiirst manager Jimmy Miller, and told the story of Jim being bumped at The Store by Sam Kinison and Dice and then stayed on stage for two hours improvising where he created the character of Fire Marshal Bill. When Ace Ventura was about to come out, Judd asked Jim if there were any scenes grounded in reality and Jim said there weren’t. He said, “I will either be the biggest star in the world or I will never work again.” It was a great intro.In Trevor Noah’s acceptance speech he referenced Jim Carrey and thanked him for talking about Depression. He said “ Comedians don’t win unless you get to the end without comitting suicide.” Trevor is so grateful for his success and reminisced about growing up so poor he didn’t even have a flushing toilet. He gave me a wonderful personal interview on the red carpet.So the next day, it was literally thrilling for me to have the opportunity to interview Jim Carrey on the red carpet. The night before during the Showtime panel someone asked him if he would ever return to doing stand-up, and he said something to the effect of “No, not for now. There’s no more Jim Carrey to sell. I don’t really think of myself as a person!” and he left it at that. It really struck me and I made a note to ask him about that if I got to speak to him on the red carpet. So on the red carpet, I saw him coming towards me and felt really excited, remembering iconic performances in things likeThe Mask and Man In The Moon where he played Andy Kaufman. He was very gracious with everyone he spoke to on the red carpet. Many times stars of his magnitude skip the carpet but with Jim I think he did it out of kindness but also out of respect for his cast on the show. When he got to me, we talked about comedy in the 70’s and 80’s when he started and he told me he had actually performed in the NY clubs as well in The Improv, at Catch and The Comic Strip. And when I asked him about there being no more Jim Carrey to sell he explained in in existential terms. He said ,” we spend our whole lives trying to invent ourselves and figure out what this is, and it’s just a collection of abstract ideas, your ethnicity, your nationality, … all that stuff are just ideas”, and I totaly got what he meant. I said to him, “ You mean the only reason you’re Jim Carrey is because your parents told you you were. Like my parents told me I’m Jeffrey Gurian and I believed them.” And that’s when he said to me, “ “ Right, and Jeffrey means ‘Go eat ‘em up’, … ‘Jeffrey means, “Make us look good!” He may never remember it, but It was truly a special moment for me. You’ll be able to see it all very soon on my Comedy Matters TV You TUbe channel!And on that note, … I’m OUT!!!Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, Comedy Matters TV.
ORANGEVILLE, ON – Jim Cuddy has written many of the songs that have become indelible in the soundtrack of Canadian lives. To celebrate the release of his fifth solo album, Countrywide Soul, Jim – along with fiddler Anne Lindsay and guitarist Colin Cripps – will be performing for audiences across Ontario this fall. Tickets go on sale on Thursday August 29 at 10:00am ESTTOUR SCHEDULEOctober 1st – Orangeville, ON – Orangeville Town Hall Opera HouseOctober 19th – Wingham, ON – Wingham Town Hall TheatreOctober 24th – Lindsay, ON – The Academy TheatreOctober 26th – Meaford, ON – Meaford HallOctober 27th – Walkerton, ON – Victoria Jubilee HallNovember 3rd – Collingwood, ON – The Historic Gayety TheatreAbout Jim Cuddy: Over the course of five solo albums and fifteen studio recordings with Blue Rodeo, Jim has established himself as one of Canada’s most respected artists. Among his accolades, Jim has received 15 JUNO Awards, The Order of Canada and, along with bandmates Blue Rodeo, has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, received the Governor General Performing Arts Award and a Star on the Walk of Fame. Twitter Jim’s latest release, Countrywide Soul, is a celebration of music and the musicians who join him on stage each night.To achieve his goal on Countrywide Soul, Jim re-worked a number of songs previously recorded for his solo career and with Blue Rodeo. To round out the record, he wrote two new songs and included a couple of favourite cover songs.For more information on Jim Cuddy, visit www.jimcuddy.com. Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Login/Register With: Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement To celebrate the release of his fifth solo album, Countrywide Soul, Jim Cuddy – along with fiddler Anne Lindsay and guitarist Colin Cripps – will be performing for audiences across Ontario this fall. (CNW Group/UP Next PR)