Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof continue to answer readers’ questions in this second installment on Kristof’s “On the Ground” blog. Gates and Kristof answer questions about corruption and contraception in Bangladesh, where Gates recently visited, and why more efforts are not being concentrated on children in the U.S. (1/11).
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
Al Jazeera’s “101 East” reports on how, “[a]s China faces social dilemmas such as a widening gender imbalance, it is considering loosening its [so-called] one-child policy.” According to the 25-minute video program, “China’s fertility rate is below the replacement level, providing fewer workers to support a rapidly growing elderly population,” and “with a cultural preference for boys, China faces an alarming gender imbalance with projections of 30 million more men than women by 2020” (Nettleton, 1/5).
In this video clip from NBC’s Today show, contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager reports on a recent family trip to Africa to visit PEPFAR-funded programs and to announce a new initiative by the George W. Bush Institute to fight cervical cancer. In the video, the Bushes travel to Tanzania, where they visit a PEPFAR-funded program called Jipende!, which trains hairstylists as health educators in 70 salons throughout the country, and to Zambia, where they visit the Ocean Road Cancer Institute and discuss a new initiative for cervical cancer testing, treatment and vaccination (12/22).
ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday examined maternal health and mortality worldwide in a program titled “Giving Life: A Risky Proposition.” The show was a sort of “sequel” to a series launched last year called “Be the Change: Save a Life,” host Diane Sawyer said (12/16). ABC News also posted a list of statistics related to maternal health (Jester, 12/17).
The Washington Post examines how “Pakistan’s family planning efforts have lagged far behind those of other large Muslim-majority nations,” despite rising population numbers. “In fits and starts, public and private agencies in Pakistan are advocating contraception to curb the country’s surging population, prevent deaths during childbirth and help provide better lives for those who are born. But in this deeply conservative society, women themselves are often the least able to decide, and the people who can — husbands, mullahs, mothers-in-law — still prize many children, particularly boys,” the newspaper writes. “The sixth most populous country …, Pakistan has South Asia’s highest fertility rate, at about four children per woman,” but “[t]oday, just one in five Pakistani women ages 15 to 49 uses modern birth control,” the newspaper notes (Brulliard, 12/14).
“In Pakistan, where the powerful military consumes a large chunk of the budget and development spending has stagnated, family-planning efforts have consistently fallen victim to tumultuous and weak governance,” the newspaper notes, adding, “The bigger cultural hurdles, the workers say, are husbands and mothers-in-law, as well as the inability of many women to make decisions for themselves.” It concludes, “Amid massive electricity shortfalls, failing schools, high unemployment and rising Islamist militancy, many here say the booming population is a ticking time bomb” (Brulliard, 12/14).
In this Knowledge for Health (K4Health) blog post, Elsie Mwaniki, a communication specialist at K4Health, reflects on the integration of family planning and HIV services, writing, “Many HIV-positive women have an unmet need for family planning (FP) services,” so providing these services together (FP/HIV integration) “makes sense.” She recaps a panel discussion…
“Unwanted babies and unsafe abortion are major problems in the developing world, yet funding for contraception is limited because of attitudes to sex and abortion in donor countries,” the Guardian’s Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog.” She reflects on her time spent in Dakar, Senegal, last week for the 2nd International Conference on Family Planning, and writes that, “in francophone Africa …, only 10 percent of women have access to what are called modern methods of family planning,” such as hormonal contraceptive injections or pills.
“[W]ith studies suggesting that 215 million women around the world want — but cannot get — effective contraception, making sure birth control methods are available to those who want them could be one of the cheapest, fastest and most effective ways of addressing climate change, experts said at the U.N. climate conference in Durban” this week, AlertNet reports. “But getting U.N. climate negotiators to even mention the controversial issue is nearly as difficult as getting them to agree on a long-delayed new global climate treaty,” the news agency adds.
The 2nd International Conference on Family Planning ended on Friday in Dakar, Senegal, Ghana Business News reports, noting that more than 2,200 people attended the conference to “shar[e] research, best practices, and progress on national strategies to deliver family planning services, with the ultimate goal being universal access to family planning.” The news service notes that UNFPA requested an “acceleration in funding for [family planning] activities to make decisive progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goal 5” (12/3). In related news, the Guardian examines family planning in Dakar, which was chosen to host the conference “because this is what one conference participant called ‘the wild, wild west of family planning,'” according to the newspaper (Boseley, 12/2).
The December issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on effective aid in complex settings; a public health round-up; an article on the “One World” approach to global health; a research paper on U.S. aid policy and induced abortion in sub-Saharan Africa; and a policy article on lay health worker attrition (December 2011).