The “groundbreaking” London Summit on Family Planning, scheduled for July 11, “aims to provide an additional 120 million women … lifesaving contraceptives, information, and services by 2020,” Gary Darmstadt, who heads the Family Health Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. If that goal is reached, the health and economic benefits would be “staggering,” he says, laying out the five guiding principles to the world’s “collective efforts to revitalize family planning.” Those principles include improving “political commitment, funding, and collaboration”; promoting equal rights among women and girls; strengthening voluntary family planning programs under existing infrastructure; and holding stakeholders accountable, he writes, and concludes, “The time to come together is now. The global community has the chance to achieve transformational results that will save millions of lives” (6/28).
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
“As a young woman, I felt confident in my future because I knew I had the power to plan my family,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in this post in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “What if every girl and woman in the world, even the poorest, had the opportunity to determine her future?” she asks and provides video footage of her addressing this question on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” on Wednesday. “Surely, there’s no controversy in all of us coming together to help women and girls lead healthy and productive lives,” she writes and asks readers to “pledge [their] support around the uncontroversial idea that every girl and woman deserves the opportunity to determine her future” (6/28).
In this post in the RH Reality Check blog, Laura Hoemeke, director of communications and knowledge management at IntraHealth International, writes that it “take[s] a health worker, or more accurately millions of health workers, to meet the need that hundreds of millions of couples worldwide have for family planning,” adding, “A…
“Around the world, frontline health workers are often the first link to lifesaving care and supplies, and in some cases they are the only link for families and communities in rural and impoverished areas,” Oying Rimon, a senior program officer in family health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,…
“Women in Afghanistan are 70 times more likely to die in childbirth than from a bullet or a bomb, according to Save the Children,” CNN reports, adding that is “a grim statistic the women here are trying to change.” In the article and an accompanying video, the news service describes a midwife-training program at the Ghazanfar Institute of Health Sciences in Kabul and “a pilot program in Guldara District [that] teaches volunteers how to become community health workers.” However, “sustaining and spreading initiatives such as this one will take even more investment from the international community,” CNN writes (Jamjoom, 6/27).
Pregnancy Complications Are Leading Killer Of Teenage Girls Worldwide, Save The Children Report Says
Pregnancy is the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide, with one million girls annually dying, being injured, or contracting a disease because of pregnancy or childbirth, according to a report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children, the Daily Mail reports (6/26). “Save the Children also cited official data which revealed that nearly one million babies born to teenage mothers die each year before their first birthday,” Agence France-Presse writes. “Worldwide, one in five girls give birth before they turn 18, according to the report,” which also said that the risk of a 15-year-old dying in pregnancy or childbirth is five times higher than for a woman in her twenties, the news service notes.
“I find [a new report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children] particularly interesting because it broadens the debate” over family planning by discussing not only the logistics of providing modern contraceptives to women in need, but “the young women, sometimes no more than children themselves, who risk their lives and those of their babies if they become pregnant inside or outside of marriage,” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog.” She notes that the report says complications from pregnancy are the leading killer of women ages 15 to 19 and infants born to women under 20 are at a much greater risk of dying before their first birthday than those born to older women. Boseley writes, “The low status of girls and their power to make decisions over their own bodies is fundamental,” and family planning and education can help empower women.
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, editor Amie Newman, a communications officer at the foundation, notes that in 2007, “Kenya enacted a new constitution which … declares reproductive health care the right of all citizens,” and writes, “Kenya’s climb towards broad contraceptive coverage, and with that the hope for increased empowerment for women and girls and an improved economic situation for all, seems steep but scalable.” She discusses ongoing efforts in the country, highlights the upcoming London Family Planning Summit, and concludes, “Despite a new constitution, there’s a lot that needs to be done to meet the goal” (6/25).
UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin on Tuesday told the Associated Press that the world should focus more on family planning issues, stating that “‘family planning seems to have fallen off the radar’ in the past two decades — a victim of politics, funding shortages and focus on other priorities such as fighting AIDS,” the news service reports. According to the AP, he said “that 220 million women lack adequate information about family planning or a regular supply of contraceptives,” and he “hopes a July 11 summit in London organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the British government will increase attention to the need for better family planning in poor countries” (6/26).
In the first of a series titled “Imagine a world…,” posted on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Paula Franklin, U.K. medical director for Marie Stopes International, writes, “For the most part, only people who really need or want something care much about it being available, and that’s why it can be hard to make people in the developed world tune in to the huge unmet need for contraception globally — 222 million people who want to use contraception can’t get it, at the last count.” She says that the upcoming London Summit on Family Planning is “perhaps the world’s best opportunity to agree together what we’re going to do to rectify the situation,” and she concludes by summarizing some of the upcoming posts in the series by Marie Stopes staff (6/25).