“[I]n the developing world, an estimated 215 million women who want to delay or avoid their next pregnancy cannot exercise this right as they lack modern contraceptives, resulting in unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and more than 100,000 maternal deaths,” UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post. He says that “[t]he United Kingdom government of David Cameron and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced plans for a summit in London in July to raise funds for voluntary family planning” and notes that “UNFPA … fully supports and is a partner in this historic initiative on an often-overlooked human right.”
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
Survey Shows Majority Of Americans Support Women’s Right To Access Maternal, Reproductive Health Care
In September 2010, “91 percent of Americans surveyed say they support the right for all women to have access to quality maternal and reproductive health care,” PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog reports. The blog contains a Population Action International infographic depicting the data and writes, “While support is slightly stronger in some parties, the consensus is hard to ignore” (4/9).
Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation writes in an opinion piece in Nigeria’s Vanguard, “My top priority as a co-chair of the foundation I run with my husband is making sure that all families have access to safe and effective contraception tools that empower them to make a decision about what’s best for them and their family. And that means encouraging aid donors and governments here in Nigeria and across Africa to make family planning a priority.” Improved access to modern methods of contraception and child spacing would save millions of lives, “[b]ut family planning doesn’t just save lives; it also makes life better for families and communities, becoming a key driver of economic development,” Gates continues.
In remarks to the U.N. Commission on Population and Development, which on Monday opened a week-long session in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “stressed the need to provide reproductive health care for young people, as well as give them access to the necessary information and the means to protect themselves from sexual abuse and violence,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Ban “underlined the importance of combating HIV/AIDS among youth, lowering the rates of teenage pregnancies, and protecting children from early marriage” the news service writes (4/23). “In order to empower the youth of the world, said Ban, the international community must ensure that they have jobs and resources, including reproductive health care,” Xinhua/Mysinchew.com notes (4/23).
Politico Pro examines the reaction to a speech delivered by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at a TEDxChange conference in Berlin on April 5. “Gates’s speech was primarily focused on explaining why family planning is important in the developing world,” according to the news service. Gates said lack of access to modern contraceptives is “a life and death crisis” because with family planning, the lives of hundreds of thousands of women and children could be saved annually, the news service notes. “But multiple global health experts heard her comments as an intentional effort to push back on the politicization of birth control in the United States following the Obama administration’s new contraception coverage policy, which they fear could spill over into global health policy,” the news service writes. However, “Gates Foundation spokesman Chris Williams said Gates was simply reiterating her long-standing support for family planning and that viewing these remarks in light of domestic politics would be ‘using the wrong lens,'” the article notes.
In the Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH) “Global Health Impact” blog, Barbara Ayotte, director of strategic communications at MSH, reports on a luncheon discussion on the London Summit on Family Planning, held in Boston in November. She notes, “Boston-area international health and development groups — MSH, Pathfinder International, John Snow, Inc. (JSI), Ibis Reproductive Health, and the Women and Health Initiative at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) — came together” for the event, and she quotes several speakers (12/11).
The Financial Times’ Andrew Jack analyzes the debate over different approaches to family planning worldwide. According to Jack, there is a “growing worry that some developing countries have failed to follow the broader ‘demographic transition’ to lower fertility levels that has occurred in past decades in the western world and more recently across Latin America and much of Asia. …”
McClatchy published a three-part series examining the “population boom” in Africa. Summaries appear below. One article looks at the relationship between Africa’s rising population and poverty. “Although it’s frequently portrayed as a continent decimated by epidemics, starvation and war, Africa is gripped by one of the greatest population explosions ever…
Washington Post Editorial Examines Future Of PEPFAR A Washington Post editorial examines the future of PEPFAR under the Obama administration, as outlined in a five-year strategy released earlier this month. Though “[m]any organizations, including Doctors Without Borders, continue to worry that Mr. Obama is ‘flat-lining’ funding for the vital program,”…
Scientific American Examines Neglected Tropical Diseases A Scientific American article examines recent efforts to tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The author writes “NTDs have plagued humankind for thousands of years. â€¦ What is new, however, is that donors, drugmakers, health ministries in low- and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization…