As part of its monthly series Stories Behind the Statistics, “guest edited by FHI 360 on behalf of USAID’S IYWG, which provides technical leadership to improve the reproductive and sexual health of young people,” the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog features a story by Gaj Bahadur Gurung, program coordinator for the National Federation of Women Living with HIV and AIDS in Nepal, who discusses the impact of adolescent pregnancy on girls and young women in South Asia. He writes, “Policies and programs must both help prevent early and unintended pregnancy (for married and unmarried women) and mitigate the negative consequences for girls who do become pregnant. Programs should provide young women access to, control over, and informed choice of their sexual and maternal health services” (8/3).
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
“Women in Afghanistan are 70 times more likely to die in childbirth than from a bullet or a bomb, according to Save the Children,” CNN reports, adding that is “a grim statistic the women here are trying to change.” In the article and an accompanying video, the news service describes a midwife-training program at the Ghazanfar Institute of Health Sciences in Kabul and “a pilot program in Guldara District [that] teaches volunteers how to become community health workers.” However, “sustaining and spreading initiatives such as this one will take even more investment from the international community,” CNN writes (Jamjoom, 6/27).
“Around the world, frontline health workers are often the first link to lifesaving care and supplies, and in some cases they are the only link for families and communities in rural and impoverished areas,” Oying Rimon, a senior program officer in family health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,…
In this post in the RH Reality Check blog, Laura Hoemeke, director of communications and knowledge management at IntraHealth International, writes that it “take[s] a health worker, or more accurately millions of health workers, to meet the need that hundreds of millions of couples worldwide have for family planning,” adding, “A…
Pregnancy Complications Are Leading Killer Of Teenage Girls Worldwide, Save The Children Report Says
Pregnancy is the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide, with one million girls annually dying, being injured, or contracting a disease because of pregnancy or childbirth, according to a report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children, the Daily Mail reports (6/26). “Save the Children also cited official data which revealed that nearly one million babies born to teenage mothers die each year before their first birthday,” Agence France-Presse writes. “Worldwide, one in five girls give birth before they turn 18, according to the report,” which also said that the risk of a 15-year-old dying in pregnancy or childbirth is five times higher than for a woman in her twenties, the news service notes.
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, editor Amie Newman, a communications officer at the foundation, notes that in 2007, “Kenya enacted a new constitution which … declares reproductive health care the right of all citizens,” and writes, “Kenya’s climb towards broad contraceptive coverage, and with that the hope for increased empowerment for women and girls and an improved economic situation for all, seems steep but scalable.” She discusses ongoing efforts in the country, highlights the upcoming London Family Planning Summit, and concludes, “Despite a new constitution, there’s a lot that needs to be done to meet the goal” (6/25).
“I find [a new report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children] particularly interesting because it broadens the debate” over family planning by discussing not only the logistics of providing modern contraceptives to women in need, but “the young women, sometimes no more than children themselves, who risk their lives and those of their babies if they become pregnant inside or outside of marriage,” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog.” She notes that the report says complications from pregnancy are the leading killer of women ages 15 to 19 and infants born to women under 20 are at a much greater risk of dying before their first birthday than those born to older women. Boseley writes, “The low status of girls and their power to make decisions over their own bodies is fundamental,” and family planning and education can help empower women.
UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin on Tuesday told the Associated Press that the world should focus more on family planning issues, stating that “‘family planning seems to have fallen off the radar’ in the past two decades — a victim of politics, funding shortages and focus on other priorities such as fighting AIDS,” the news service reports. According to the AP, he said “that 220 million women lack adequate information about family planning or a regular supply of contraceptives,” and he “hopes a July 11 summit in London organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the British government will increase attention to the need for better family planning in poor countries” (6/26).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Megan Averill and Tricia Petruney, senior technical officers with FHI 360’s Global Health, Population and Nutrition Group, and Ward Cates, president emeritus at FHI 360, discuss the “domino effect” of family planning. “We’ll begin with a simple and intuitive causal relationship: voluntary use of contraception prevents unintended pregnancies,” they write, and highlight a number of benefits they say stem from this relationship. They conclude, “Until now, too few people have been aware and too few leaders willing to acknowledge the essential role that family planning plays in achieving sustainable development. Rio+20 is our chance to tip this pivotal domino piece forward, and witness the measurable cascade of progress it evokes” (6/18).
No Definitive Link Between Hormonal Contraceptives And Increased Link Of HIV Infection Among Women, CDC Says
“There is no clear link between the use of contraceptives such as the birth control pill or Depo-Provera shots and an increased risk that a woman will contract HIV, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday,” Reuters reports, noting that the WHO came to the same conclusion in February. Following a review of recent studies suggesting women taking hormonal contraceptives might be at an increased risk of HIV infection, “the Atlanta-based CDC said, ‘the evidence does not suggest’ a link between oral contraceptives such as the birth control pill and increased HIV risk,” the news agency writes. CDC officials said though the evidence for injectable contraceptives is inconclusive, they too are safe, according to Reuters. “Women at risk for HIV infection or who already have the virus ‘can continue to use all hormonal contraceptive methods without restriction,’ the CDC said,” the news agency writes. However, “the CDC also said it was ‘strongly’ encouraging the use of condoms as a precaution against the virus that causes AIDS,” Reuters notes (Beasley, 6/21).