Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 17:20 EDT

JSI Statement on Russia’s Decision to Remove USAID

September 26, 2012

BOSTON, Sept. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — JSI is deeply disappointed by the decision of the Russian Federation to reject assistance from USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development. For two decades, since the opening of Russia to the West, JSI has partnered with USAID to improve health across the vast nation, resulting in a dramatic change in women’s lives. One of our proudest achievements is the significant decrease in abortion used as contraception.

USAID-supported maternal health initiatives in Russia have contributed to huge leaps in the quality of care and services, and have precipitated a significant shift in national health care policy. Outdated, rigid, and highly medicalized health care has been replaced by modern evidence-based and integrated approaches that are responsive to women and families, achieve better health outcomes, and reduce costs.

JSI began working with health care providers and the government in 1999. Since then, JSI has seen changes that have resulted in substantial reductions in abortion, maternal deaths from hemorrhage, and neonatal deaths from hypothermia and asphyxiation. Furthermore, JSI has helped to empower women, families, health care providers, and administrators within the health care system.

For decades, abortion was the primary means of family planning in Russia and a cultural norm, widely available and financially accessible. JSI helped doctors recognize the value of family planning even when abortion was more profitable. One JSI project showed a 40 percent decline in the abortion rate within the project regions over three years.

Childbirth practices have also undergone a huge shift. Where once childbirth was a highly medicalized process, JSI’s USAID-funded work has helped Russian maternity hospitals apply international evidence-based practices that have transformed the atmosphere in maternity hospitals to one that prioritizes mother and child. Institutional delivery halls have been replaced with comfortable birthing rooms. Medical interventions are limited. Fathers and partners, once banned, are now active participants.

Newborn care has also been transformed and breastfeeding is emphasized. Newborns were once immediately removed from mothers, but health care workers now recognize the value of skin-to-skin contact between parent and newborn to promote bonding and to keep infants warm. Babies were routinely fed infant formula in central nurseries, following official norms; today they are breastfed whenever possible.

In May 2012, USAID and JSI sponsored a conference that brought together 250 participants including senior officials from Russia’s Ministry of Health and physicians from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The meeting, regarded as a great success, explored new practices and results on Institutionalizing Best Practices in Maternal and Child Health.

The benefit to Russian families as a result of USAID’s health programs has been far reaching. It is our hope that the Russian Federation will continue to build upon these advances, even without USAID’s support, to ensure the best health outcomes for women, children, and families.

JSI is a health care research and consulting organization committed to improving the health of individuals and communities worldwide. JSI operates from 8 U.S. and 65 international offices.

Contact: Penelope Riseborough: 617.482.9485

SOURCE John Snow, Inc.

Source: PR Newswire