Field Notes, Update

Caring for moms, testing the tests, and delivering vaccines

The info hub for the hub of global health

Inoculation information

There are all kinds of obstacles when it comes to administering vaccines. Whether it’s building trust in the COVID-19 vaccine, delivering it to hard-to-reach communities, or meeting people where they are, these are a few WGHA members working to move the needle.

Every day is Mother’s Day 

Moms deserve the best care every day.

In the United States, Black women experience disproportionately higher prenatal and postpartum complications and increased mortality rates. Swedish is working to address these devastating disparities through its Black Birth Empowerment Initiative. This doula program centers care around the Black birth experience with culturally relevant doula care designed by and for Black women.

In Sierra Leone, women face a 1 in 20 lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth. Partners In Health and Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health & Sanitation officially broke ground on the Maternal Center of Excellence—a new state-of-the-art teaching hospital designed to support women and children’s health. The facility will host specialized training programs and house critical services such as a blood bank, ICU, surgical suite, outpatient clinic, and pharmacy.

More than skin deep

Did you know that most people have about 21 square feet of skin? And inside that skin, our microbiome analyzes bacteria from our surroundings and learns which to keep and which to fight off with the help of our immune system. But, not much is known about how it all works or why it sometimes doesn’t.

Oliver Harrison of Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason recently received a $2.9 million NIH grant to study commensal T cells in the skin, which could help doctors learn how to speed or slow immune responses to best fight off diseases. We’ve all got skin in this game.

Life-saving puppets in Yemen

At the Al-Manshar camp for displaced people in southern Yemen, children are getting fun health lessons via puppet foxes and cows. Local International Rescue Committee volunteers are using puppets to teach children how to avoid crowded places and properly wash their hands to prevent cholera, COVID-19, and other diseases. The interactive shows bring good info and a needed dose of playfulness.

Brain to body

Big news out of Northeastern University as Heather Clark, James Monaghan, and colleagues developed a DNA-based nanosensor that can image communication between the brain and the body in real time. Until recently, researchers could only try to figure out what happened based on the results afterward. They say that seeing this communication as it happens is like listening in on a phone call instead of hearing the voicemail later. The discovery could be another big step toward treating neurological diseases in the future.

Testing the tests 

In the beginning of the pandemic, scientists scrambled to create diagnostic tests in record speed. But since then, the virus has mutated, causing some people to question whether the tests are as accurate at identifying variants.

In response, PATH launched two online dashboards to monitor how certain variants might affect the accuracy of current tests. Good news so far, as tests seem to be detecting the variants, but manufacturers and regulators continue to keep an eye on the diagnostics.

Zoomin’ around town

  • May 6: Help Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth launch the Rubens–Hansen Innovation Fund to improve birth outcomes and accelerate new solutions. Join the Founders’ Celebration with special guests Anna Faris, Tom Hansen, Craig Rubens, and Brograss.
  • May 10: Join PRONTO International and Johnson & Johnson Innovation to learn how to help close the maternal mortality gap in the United States.
  • May 18: Discover new ways to leverage data and ramp up your analytical skills to make an impact in your organization at Tableau Live.
  • May 20: Attend AWARE for All – Northwest to learn about clinical trials and how they work, hosted by the Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation.


“The most rapid and effective gains in global health are earned by treating those formerly excluded from care, without restrictions or barriers.”

Dr. Paul Farmer,
Partners In Health, in “Social Medicine for a Better Future,” Noema


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