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NPR’s Morning Edition Examines Global Health Initiative

NPR’s Morning Edition examines the Obama administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) and efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. The $63 billion dollar “initiative preserves the Bush AIDS relief plan,” known as PEPFAR, and aims “to allow patients to get care at one location rather than having to seek care at different places. For example, family planning at one facility and HIV care at another,” NPR notes.

Women Deliver Conference Concludes

The Women Deliver conference concluded on Wednesday, as attendees “celebrated benchmark achievements in reducing maternal and infant mortality and faced stubborn failures at the same time,” Womens eNews reports. Advocates were “able to savor success stories in countries such as Sri Lanka and Malawi … But the Women Deliver conference also offered a forum for tales of women still dying [from] preventable childbirth deaths and of inadequate access to family planning services for 215 million women worldwide,” the news service writes (Kramer, 6/10).

Recent Releases In Global Health

Women’s Rights Essential To Improving Maternal Mortality The U.N.’s plan to improve maternal health is lacking “the one element that will make it work. Human rights,” according to blog post on Huffington Post. “Medical causes of maternal death – hemorrhage, sepsis, hypertension, unsafe abortion, HIV and AIDS – are inextricably linked…

China Considering Changes To ‘One-Child’ Family Planning Policy

Chinese officials are considering changing the country’s so-called “one-child policy,” according to a former family planning official, “with government advisory bodies drafting proposals in the face of a rapidly aging society in the world’s most populous nation,” Reuters reports. “Proposed changes would allow for urban couples to have a second child, even if one of the parents is themselves not an only child, the China Daily cited Zhang Weiqing, the former head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, as saying on Wednesday,” according to Reuters, which adds, “Zhang said the commission and other population research institutes have submitted policy recommendations to the government.”

Demand Growing For Female Condoms Despite Myths

Mary Beth Hastings, vice president of the Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE), writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog that despite “the pervasive myth that no one wants female condoms,” “[d]emand is increasing because female condoms provide men and women with something they want: more options when it comes to protecting themselves.” USAID officials “were surprised to hear evidence of an unmet demand for female condoms,” Hastings says, adding, “[W]hen presented with evidence to the contrary, USAID started talking with different institutions about meeting the demand.” She continues, “To its credit, the U.S. government is a global leader on female condoms. But there is still room for improvement.”

IPS Examines PEPFAR Guidance On Family Planning In Light Of New AIDS Blueprint

Noting the U.S. government on Thursday “unveiled a major new strategy for pushing towards achieving an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” Inter Press Service writes, “The far-reaching new blueprint for what’s known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is being widely lauded, yet little attention has been given to a document, published in October, that stipulates how new PEPFAR funding can be used.” The news service notes, “[a]ccording to that guidance, ‘PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities.'” “The language in the guidance was put there to make clear what exactly (PEPFAR) could and couldn’t pay for — that’s problematic,’ Mary Beth Hastings with the Center for Health and Gender Equity, a Washington advocacy group, told IPS,” the news service writes. An unnamed spokesperson from PEPFAR “told IPS … that ‘there are other entities, particularly USAID, that meet that need [for family planning]. We’re very interested in integrating our services,'” the news service writes (Biron, 11/29).

Keep Momentum Going To Pursue Innovation In Contraceptive Options

“[I]t has been a banner year for media attention, political will and global resources on family planning and women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment,” Ward Cates, president emeritus of FHI 360; Laneta Dorflinger, a scientist with FHI 360; and Kirsten Vogelsong, a senior program officer with the family planning division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, write in the Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog, noting the London Summit on Family Planning, World Contraception Day, and the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child. “To achieve the ambitious goals set forth by these international initiatives, however, the global health and development community must act on the current political momentum and not lose sight of the challenges that remain,” they state. Though there are “many contraceptive choices available to prevent unintended pregnancy,” access to contraception is limited for many women and “the currently available methods do not always meet their needs, preferences or budgets,” they write.

Women Need Access To Family Planning Methods That Work For Them

“I spent most of my time this year advocating for better access to family planning around the world,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a Foreign Policy 2012 Global Thinker, writes in this Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Early on, I told everybody who would listen that I wanted to help put contraceptives back on top of the global health and development agenda,” she states, adding, “Visiting women in developing countries, however, I realized that this framing didn’t quite capture my message. … What was missing were human beings, the women across the world who have told me over and over again that having access to birth control methods that work for them would change their futures.”