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PLoS Blog Responds To U.N.'s Newly Released Maternal Mortality Estimates

Newly released “estimates of maternal mortality from the United Nations’ Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG) are good news — but not good enough,” Peter Byass, professor of global health at Umea University in Sweden and director of the Umea Centre for Global Health Research, writes in this post in the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog. He briefly discusses the pros and cons of using “estimates” for maternal mortality data, and he concludes, “There is a risk involved for every woman who gets pregnant. But the global community has the knowledge and resources to manage those risks and minimize adverse consequences. Why can’t we stop mothers dying?” (5/16).

Maternal Deaths Drop By Nearly Half Worldwide Over 20 Years; Greater Progress Still Needed, U.N. Reports

“The number of women dying of pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications has almost halved in 20 years, according to new estimates released [on Wednesday] by the United Nations, which stressed that greater progress is still needed in significantly reducing maternal deaths,” the U.N. News Centre reports (5/16). “The report, ‘Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010,’ shows that from 1990 to 2010, the annual number of maternal deaths dropped from more than 543,000 to 287,000 — a decline of 47 percent,” a UNFPA press release states (5/16). However, “[w]hile substantial progress has been achieved in almost all regions, many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will fail to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing maternal death by 75 percent through 2015,” Inter Press Service writes (Deen, 5/16). “Countries in Eastern Asia have made [the] most progress on improving the health of expectant and new mothers, said the report,” Agence France-Presse adds (5/16).

IPS Reports On Upcoming 5th International Parliamentarians' Conference On Population, Development

Inter Press Service reports on the Fifth International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) program of action, taking place May 24-25 in Istanbul, Turkey. According to the news service, about 300 parliamentarians from six continents will meet to “discuss ‘the progress the world’s governments are making in their efforts to protect and empower women in their reproductive health and rights: a promise they made at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994 in Cairo,’ says the European Parliamentary Forum (EPF), which is co-organizing the event.”

Focusing Attention On Population, Reproductive Health Issues

“As representatives of the World Health Organization Member States arrive in Geneva this week for the 65th World Health Assembly, I feel a cautious optimism about the future, and the future health of Africa,” Joy Phumaphi, co-chair of the Aspen Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, writes in this post in the Huffington Post Blog. “With two female heads of state in Africa – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia and Joyce Banda in Malawi – women’s health and gender equality are no longer marginalized, they have become central to a nation’s potential for development and prosperity,” she continues, adding the two “share a vision and passionate resolve to improve the lives of women in Africa — and like me they are founding members of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health.”

KFF Issues New Brief On Statutory Requirements & Policies Governing U.S. Global Family Planning And Reproductive Health Efforts

The Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday released a new issue brief that “provides a summary of the major policies and statutory requirements governing U.S. participation in international family planning and reproductive health efforts,” according to the website. “These laws and policies collectively direct how funds are spent, which organizations receive funds and generally shape U.S. family planning and reproductive health activities around the world,” the website adds (5/3).

Copenhagen Consensus Report Argues For Expanding Family Planning Programs In ‘High-Fertility’ Countries

As part of a series of Slate articles highlighting issues being examined by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Bjorn Lomborg, director of the center, examines the implications of population growth on development indicators. In a research paper released on Thursday “for Copenhagen Consensus 2012, Hans-Peter Kohler of the University of Pennsylvania looks at sub-Saharan African nations that, among high-fertility countries, make the dominant contribution to world population growth,” he notes, adding, “‘High-fertility’ countries today account for about 38 percent of the 78 million people that are added annually to the world population, despite the fact that they are home to only 18 percent of the population.”

Republican Win In 2012 Election Could Spell End Of International Family Planning Programs

“If a Republican becomes president, … say goodbye to international programs providing birth control to women in desperately poor countries such as Liberia,” senior contributing writer Michelle Goldberg writes in this Daily Beast opinion piece. Goldberg notes that birth control has become a “significant issue in the U.S. presidential campaign,” writing, “All of the Republican candidates have slammed the administration’s refusal to give religious institutions a broad exemption from the mandate that insurance cover family planning.”

Study Shows Incorrect Condom Use Common Worldwide

According to an analysis published in the journal of Sexual Health, the incorrect use of male condoms has become a concern for public health officials worldwide, CBS News reports (DyBuncio, 2/24). Researchers from the Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team (CURT) reviewed 50 articles from 14 countries and found “errors in condom use — such as putting it on too late, or not using condoms throughout sex, or not leaving space at the tip — are common worldwide,” according to WebMD Health News.

Many Women ‘Want And Need’ Gift Of Reproductive Health This Valentine’s Day

“[T]his Valentine’s Day, perhaps it’s time to celebrate with a gift many of the world’s women desperately want and need: reproductive health,” Robert Engelman, president of the Worldwatch Institute, writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. Engelman provides global maternal mortality statistics and notes, “Access to family planning and other reproductive health services safeguard the lives of women and their children and promote families that are emotionally and economically healthy.”

Understanding The Economic Impact Of The ‘Girl Effect’

In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Jill Sheffield, founder and President of Women Deliver, responds to an opinion piece published in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” on Friday in which Ofra Koffman — a Leverhulme postdoctoral fellow in the department for culture, media and creative industries at King’s College London — “questions the contributions that girls and young women can make to economies when they delay childbirth,” and argues “that the so-called ‘Girl Effect’ of delaying childbirth does not necessarily ‘stop poverty before it starts,’ as the Department for International Development (DFID) claims.” Sheffield writes, “The ability to choose if and when to have children is a huge piece of the puzzle to the ‘Girl Effect,’ but it is not the only piece. … The ‘Girl Effect’ is an amalgamation of exactly these three components: security, health, and power” (2/15).