This week, the [Results for Development Institute](http://www.resultsfordevelopment.org/) launched [UHC Forward](http://uhcforward.org/), a new website that serves as a one-stop portal for news, events, and publications related to the global universal health coverage (UHC) movement. [UHC](http://uhcforward.org/about/universal-health-coverage) refers to ‘fairer, more efficient health financing that pools risk and shares healthcare costs equitably across the population’, and many developing countries in recent years have worked to reform their healthcare systems and make UHC a reality for their people. Congratulations to our R4D colleagues on the launch of this exciting and comprehensive new initiative!
Yesterday, the [Global Health Council’s](http://www.globalhealth.org/) [Blog 4 Global Health]( http://blog4globalhealth.wordpress.com/) [posted some key take-away’s](http://blog4globalhealth.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/questions-on-the-futur...) from a recent [Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation](http://www.healthmetricsandevaluation.org/) publication titled [Financing Global Health 2011: Continued growth as MDG deadline approaches](http://www.healthmetricsandevaluation.org/publications/policy-report/fin...). Among them is the observation that though the overall amount of development assistance spending on health is increasing, it is increasing at a slower rate than in the previous decade.
Recent results from an mHealth pilot project demonstrated that ‘SMS-based messages can improve training retention for health workers’. The pilot project, called [Mobiles for Quality Improvement (m4QI)](http://gbiportal.net/2012/01/18/mobile-technology-improves-health-worker...), looked at the use of mobile technologies (specifically [FrontlineSMS:Learn](http://learn.frontlinesms.com/)) to reinforce in-person training for health workers and was conducted by [FrontlineSMS](http://www.frontlinesms.com/).
In 2010, Sierra Leone introduced their free healthcare initiative that provides free support and healthcare to pregnant women that give birth in a hospital or clinic and subsequently banned [traditional birth attendants (TBAs)](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_birth_attendant), who usually assist with births in the home, from assisting with births. [This post](http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/jan/17...) on [The Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog](http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters) looks at the double-edged sword inherent in this policy. The policy in theory prevents TBAs who are often poorly trained from potentially harming their patients and provides free healthcare instead, but in doing so delegitimizes the form of birth assistance accessed by nearly 70% of the country’s women – many of whom have no other realistic options, due to the isolated nature of many villages and their reliance on trusted individuals within their communities to help them through birth.
In [this post](http://globalhealthdelivery.org/2011/12/smiletrain-cofounder-highlights-...) on the Global Health Delivery Blog, [SmileTrain](http://www.smiletrain.org/) co-founder [Brian Mullaney](http://support.smiletrain.org/site/PageServer?pagename=brian_mullaney_bio) attributed a significant portion of the success of SmileTrain, an organization that provides low-cost surgeries to correct cleft palates, to their ‘decision to invest heavily in information technology as a means to scale up while keeping costs down’. SmileTrain digitized training materials and [videos](http://medpro.smiletrain.org/medpro/training/training_cds.htm) and created an online training library that allows local surgeons to be involved in their efforts in a sustainable way.