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Family Planning & Reproductive Health

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‘Fresh Efforts’ Needed To Understand, Deliver Family Planning In Order To Curb Birth Rates In Developing Countries

In this Financial Times opinion piece, journalist Andrew Jack examines the challenges of family planning in some poorer countries, where public health programs “risk adding to population pressures and inadvertently setting back development,” writing, “In a number of countries, notably in central and western Africa, health programs have contributed to cutting infant mortality rates, but birth rates have continued to remain stubbornly high. The unintended consequence is a fast-growing population that adds further pressure on poor families and fragile environments.”

Prioritizing The Family Planning Needs Of Young Women

The world reached a population milestone in October, but “[i]n the many discussions that have sprung up around the seven billion benchmark — all of them important and illuminating — I don’t hear enough about our world’s most vulnerable: our youth,” Jill Sheffield, founder and president of Women Deliver, writes in this Huffington Post opinion piece. “Nearly half of the world’s seven billion inhabitants is under the age of 25,” she notes, adding “when it comes to sexual and reproductive health, young women and girls around the world face tremendous challenges — which demand tremendous solutions.”

Study Examines Abortion Services For Women Living With HIV In Brazil, Namibia, S. Africa

In this paper published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, researchers from South Africa, Namibia, Brazil, and the U.S. “explore the existing evidence related to global and country-specific barriers to safe abortion for all women, with an emphasis on research gaps around the right of women living with HIV…

Problems In India’s Public Health Care System Lead To Growth Of Private Medicine

Toronto’s Star reports on how problems within India’s health care system — such as absent doctors and nurses, a lack of necessary equipment, corruption and one of the lowest health budgets in the world — has led to the mistrust of the public system and has paved the way for private medicine in the country. According to the newspaper, “In a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology survey in India, 79 percent said they opted for private doctors or traditional healers rather than government-run hospitals,” and that “they spent an average seven percent of their monthly income on health care.”

Reuters Examines Reproductive Health Issues In Russia

Reuters examines abortion, contraception and sex education in Russia, where, “[t]wo decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, wider availability of contraception and a resurgence of religion have reduced the numbers of abortions overall, but termination remains the top method of birth control in Russia.”

Education For Women, Girls A More Effective Strategy Than Family Planning To Solve Global Problems

In a post in the National Review’s “The Corner,” Christopher White, international director of operations for the World Youth Alliance, responds to a New York Times opinion piece published Wednesday in which columnist Nicholas Kristof hailed family planning as a solution to “many of the global problems that confront us.” White writes, “Somewhere along [Kristof's] many trips around the globe … he’s failed to realize the ineffectiveness of contraception and see the real needs of poor populations — particularly mothers and girls.”

Media Coverage Of Potential Link Between Hormonal Contraception, HIV Risk Needed More ‘Critical Thinking’

In a Nature News opinion piece, James Shelton, science adviser for USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, discusses media coverage of recent findings from the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases showing that women’s use of hormonal contraception (HC) may increase the risk of HIV acquisition or transmission. “Whether HC influences HIV risk is a serious concern, and has been the subject of numerous studies. But these studies have been observational and not randomized, and thus potentially biased by who chooses to use HC,” Shelton writes. He uses “causality criteria laid down by British epidemiologist Austin Bradford Hill” to analyze the results, adding, “I find the evidence far from persuasive.”

Family Planning A Cost-Effective Strategy To Reduce Poverty, Conflict And Environmental Damage

In his New York Times column, Nicholas Kristof writes that family planning is “a solution to many of the global problems that confront us, from climate change to poverty to civil wars,” but that it “has been a victim of America’s religious wars” and is “starved of resources.” Kristof discusses the potential impacts of overpopulation as the global population surpasses seven billion and adds, “What’s needed isn’t just birth control pills or IUDs. It’s also girls’ education and women’s rights — starting with an end to child marriages — for educated women mostly have fewer children.” He concludes, “We should all be able to agree on voluntary family planning as a cost-effective strategy to reduce poverty, conflict and environmental damage. If you think family planning is expensive, you haven’t priced babies” (11/2).

Nicaragua’s Abortion Law Becomes Issue In Presidential Election

“Nicaragua is heading for presidential elections, and among the issues dividing people in this mostly Catholic country is abortion,” with advocates marching in the streets of the capital Managua to show support for overturning a ban on therapeutic abortions that was instituted five years ago, Al Jazeera reports. “With one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Latin America, Nicaragua is one of the few countries in the world that bans therapeutic abortions,” the news agency notes (Newman, 11/2).