“Supplies — the essential medicines and medical equipment frontline health workers need to successfully do their jobs — are a vital part of the solution to saving the lives of mothers and newborns,” Catharine Taylor, a maternal health expert with PATH, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, adding, “And yet, they are frequently overlooked in the ongoing conversation about how to improve maternal health in the developing world.” She continues, “All the skilled health care workers in the world can’t deliver the care women need if a clinic’s stock is empty and the next round of supplies is weeks away. Reliable availability of maternal health medicines and supplies will ultimately strengthen health care systems and make frontline health workers more effective.”
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
In the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Gary Darmstadt, Monica Kerrigan, and Wendy Prosser of the foundation discuss a new partnership announced on Wednesday at the U.N. to improve access to contraceptive implants for women in the developing world. The program, part of the FP2020 initiative to increase access to modern contraceptives, “will save the lives of hundreds of thousands of mothers and children and prevent millions of unwanted pregnancies by giving women access to information, supplies and services to delay, space and limit her births,” they write. “This new development puts the power in women’s hands with information, services and contraceptive methods they need and want,” they state, concluding, “Most importantly, though, it allows women in some of the poorest regions of the world the chance to make their own choices about how to plan their families” (9/27).
The following blog posts were published in recognition of World Contraception Day, observed annually on September 26.
The U.N. on Wednesday “presented a plan to make life-saving health supplies more accessible, while a new report found that, despite impressive reductions in maternal and child mortality in the past decade in some countries, millions of women and children still die every year from preventable causes,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “With its new plan, the U.N. Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children aims to improve access and use of essential medicines, medical devices and health supplies that effectively address causes of death during pregnancy, childbirth and into childhood,” the news service writes (9/26). “Prices for long-acting contraception will be halved for 27 million women in the developing world through [the] new partnership, former President Bill Clinton and other world leaders announced” on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, the Associated Press writes. “The deal will help avoid almost 30 million unwanted pregnancies and save an estimated $250 million in health costs, the partnership said,” according to the AP (DePasquale, 9/26).
Despite Uganda’s national HIV prevention campaign that endorses the “ABC-plus” model â€“ “which includes abstinence, being faithful and condom use, as well as measures to prevent the mother-to-child-transmission of HIV and, more recently, methods such as medical male circumcision” — many young Ugandans do not use condoms consistently during sex, “spurring new measures to promote the prophylactic,” PlusNews reports. “The country’s HIV prevention strategies have been called into question following a rise in HIV prevalence from 6.4 percent to 7.3 percent over the past five years,” the news service writes. The article discusses how many students are more fearful of pregnancy than sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and use emergency hormonal contraception on a regular basis. PlusNews also highlights peer education campaigns aimed at improving condom use rates and knowledge about HIV prevention (9/21).
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog continues its series, published in partnership with Women Deliver, to recognize World Contraception Day, observed annually on September 26. The following pieces were published recently:
The Observer on Tuesday published a series of feature articles examining family planning in Uganda. The series includes an article examining the integration of men into family planning services; an article discussing similarities between Uganda and Indonesia with respect to population growth and family planning; an interview with Health Minister Christine Ondoa regarding funding for family planning; an article examining the implications of population growth on Uganda’s resources; an article discussing family planning methods in the country; an article examining how Uganda will reach commitments to increase expenditure on family planning over the next five years; an article on the relationship between family planning and poverty; and an article highlighting family planning programs supported by FHI 360 through the PROGRESS project (Mwesigye, 9/18).
“South Africa faces significant challenges when it comes to sexual health, and with the high prevalence of rape, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases and infections, schools need to implement strong and informative programs on sexuality and contraceptive use,” Jos Dirkx, founder of Girls & Football SA, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, published in partnership with Women Deliver as part of a series on youth perspectives to recognize World Contraception Day, observed annually on September 26. She discusses some women’s personal experiences with contraception, and concludes, “Girls & Football SA strongly believes that by creating a safe space through our programming, we are able to present girls with the chance to ask questions, get accurate information and start a dialogue about their bodies, their health, and their sexuality” (9/18).
“Young or old, family planning should be a simple and personal decision made by informed individuals or couples regarding how often and when to have children,” Anne Alan Sizomu, the advocacy officer for Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung’s (DSW) Uganda country office, writes in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, published in partnership with Women Deliver as part of a series on youth perspectives to recognize World Contraception Day, observed annually on September 26. “In order to make informed decisions regarding their future, it is important for young people to have access to timely information and contraceptives,” she continues, adding, “Young people need to demand their reproductive health rights — including access to contraceptives and the ability to decide when to have children” (9/17).
As more people move into the urban slum areas surrounding Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, basic services such as water, sanitation and health care are being stretched to capacity by “[n]ew residents [who] are increasingly pushed out to the city’s fringes,” the Guardian reports. “According to health care workers, hospitals are already unable to meet the growing demand for treatment and services,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Dhaka’s largest hospital is operating at 50 percent staff capacity and trying to accommodate 3,000 patients in a facility with just 800 beds.” In addition, “no health care facilities are provided in the slums, [so] Dhaka’s newest — and poorest — residents are facing a health care black hole,” according to the Guardian. The news service says women and girls “most often fall through the cracks,” and describes one project “that aims to bridge this gap and prevent urbanization creating a free fall in maternal and infant mortality levels” (Kelly, 9/18).