GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog features an interview with Ellen Starbird, deputy director of the Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID, and Judy Manning, health development officer in USAID’s Research, Technology and Utilization Division, who discuss “family planning and reproductive health issues, including new innovations and promising technologies still in the research stage.” Starbird says that funding for family planning programs is critical for “making possible for women in the developing world the kinds of choices that women all over the developed world have” (Donnelly, 8/1).
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
U.N. agencies “are shying away from the politically volatile topic [of abortion], despite mounting evidence that restricted abortion access contributes to maternal deaths and constitutes a violation of a woman’s human rights,” Women’s eNews reports.
UNICEF on Tuesday “appeal[ed] to the air transport sector to provide free and discounted cargo space to bring emergency food supplies into the region,” the U.N. News Centre reports (8/2). UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, warned in its latest situation report that “[c]hild mortality rates among Somali refugees in Kenya are on the rise and there are ‘alarmingly high rates’ of malnutrition,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (8/3).
“In recent years, nearly every demographic study has painted a dire picture of the world’s changing demographics. Yet when the U.N. issued its latest report this past May, it seemed almost sunny,” Jonathan Last, senior writer at the Weekly Standard, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. He says that “[t]he catch is that it may not be true” because “the U.N. has had to make one very big assumption: Starting tomorrow, every country in the world with fertility below the replacement rate of 2.10 will increase its fertility. And this rise will continue unabated, year after year, until every First World country has a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) near replacement.”
NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Wednesday examined how Islam influences health and family planning decisions in Pakistan, one of Asia’s fastest-growing populations. In Pakistan, mullahs generally regard contraception as sin, a high rate of illiteracy among women undermines family planning and a lack of access to adequate health care contributes to a high maternal mortality rate, according to the piece, which profiles a mufti, a physician and two families making very different decisions about the size of their families (McCarthy, 8/10).
Cassandra Clifford, founder and executive director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, calls for safer birth practices in Timor-Leste in this Aid Netherlands blog post. Clifford says that unsafe traditional birth practices, “the countryâ€™s history and lack of infrastructure, especially regarding healthcare,” and “a lack of education and understanding on maternal health, safe birth practices, and family planning” are contributing to a high maternal mortality rate and health complications among newborns. She says birth spacing, the “training of midwives, [and] training [in] hygiene methods for at-home deliveries is a must to bridge the gaps to safer birth practices” (8/15).
Authorities in China “have begun a national campaign to crack down on procedures used to determine a fetus’ sex for anything other than medical purposes and abortions performed because a fetus is of a certain sex” in an effort to curb the country’s growing gender ratio imbalance, China Daily reports (Juan, 8/17). During the campaign, which will run until March 2012, “efforts will be made to raise awareness of gender equality, to severely punish those involved in cases of non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions, and to strengthen monitoring,” according to Xinhua.
The annual GBCHealth Conference began in New York on Thursday, and “the conference is specifically addressing the need to work harder to reach the difficult health-related goals concerning reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis,” Thomson Reuters Foundation reports. “[F]or the first…
“The most visible event last year for the family planning team here at the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation], and for all of our family health team was the London Summit on Family Planning,” Gary Darmstadt, head of the family health division of the foundation; Shannon Harris, a research analyst…
“Health workers are awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing, which will decide if the Philippines can finally implement comprehensive reproductive health services,” The Lancet reports. The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RHA) was signed by President Bebigno Aquino last December, the journal notes. “[T]he passage…