More than 100 world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, are meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this week for Rio+20, the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, to address ways to reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection. The following blog post, opinion piece, and press release address health aspects of the conference.
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
GlobalPost Blog Examines Large-Scale Public Sector Condom Distribution Campaigns In U.S. Versus Abroad
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog profiles Washington, D.C.’s public condom distribution campaign, the Rubber Revolution Campaign, one of only a handful of large-scale public sector condom distribution campaigns in the U.S., and examines why public sector condom campaigns are more common outside of the U.S. “In other parts of the world, public sector condom campaigns are standard, [according to Michael Kharfen, bureau chief of partnerships and community outreach at the D.C. Department of Health], while in the United States they are primarily run through non-profit organizations,” the blog writes, noting, “Kharfen added that there is a lesson to be learned from other countries’ efforts to promote condom use through social marketing and public education.”
“As members of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, we call on the negotiators at the Rio+20 conference to ensure that reproductive health and voluntary family planning have a central role in any comprehensive strategy for sustainable development,” Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil; Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice; Joy Phumaphi, former minister of health for Botswana and former vice-president of human development at the World Bank; Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and former director-general of the World Health Organization; Fred Sai, former president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and former director of Population at the World Bank; and Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, former deputy president of South Africa; and Jenny Shipley, former prime minister of New Zealand and vice-president of the Club of Madrid, write in a letter published in the Guardian on Friday.
The Guardian reports on a “major summit” to be held in London on July 11, which “aims to provide access to family planning to 120 million women at an estimated cost of $4 billion.” According to the newspaper, the summit “is being organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the British government’s department for international development (DFID),” and “[b]etween 20 and 25 countries are scheduled to attend, including the U.S., India, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.”
In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin discusses a family planning summit to be held in London next month, writing the UNFPA “is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.” He writes, “More than 200 million women, largely in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can’t access them,” and continues, “Enabling women to control the number and spacing of their children is essential to reducing maternal deaths.” The summit, co-hosted by the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “will be launched to meet this unfilled need for modern family planning in developing countries by tackling the estimated $3.6 billion (Â£2.3 billion) annual shortfall in investment (.pdf),” he adds.
The Nairobi-based African Institute for Development Policy on Tuesday presented a report called “Africa on the Move!” at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, VOA News reports, noting the report “says that in some African countries, political will, maternal and child health concerns as well as more and more funding are helping to develop effective family planning.” According to VOA, “Steve McDonald, the host of the event and Africa director at the Wilson Center, said partnerships between governments and religious organizations, which sometimes provide the bulk of health services in remote areas, are also crucial.”
Agence France-Presse examines the abortion debate in Morocco, where “voices calling for a repeal of the [country’s] ban on abortion are growing louder,” according to the news service. “The debate over abortion is just the latest front of an ongoing conflict between conservative supporters of traditional values and more liberal, reform-minded campaigners,” the news service writes. “‘We are going in all directions. It is difficult to move forward with a conservative government,’ [Fauzia Assouli, president of the Federation of the Democratic League of Women’s Rights] told AFP,” the news service notes. “But at the same time, she said, there was a growing sense of awareness, a sense of momentum among activists,” AFP writes. The news service adds, “A national congress will be held on June 12 in Rabat, under the auspices of the Moroccan Association for the Fight against Clandestine Abortion, headed by Professor Chafik Chraibi,” a renowned gynecologist in the country (Mamarbachi, 6/4).
Inter Press Service reports on the outcome of the 2012 International Parliamentarians Conference on Implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) program of action that took place in Istanbul, Turkey, last week, writing, “The debate on the final text of the declaration was reportedly a heated one,” with representative…
Inter Press Service examines the relationship between climate change and family planning in least-developed countries (LDCs), writing the “double challenge of mitigating climate change and combating crushing poverty makes improving reproductive rights and promoting gender equality imperatives that can no longer be delayed, according to several recent reports and agreements.” IPS highlights several reports and agreements, including an agreement between U.N. Women and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) that “aims at tackling gender inequality in the 75 OIF member states, most of which are also LDCs”; an agreement between U.N. Women and the European Union “to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations in their work on gender equality”; and the Royal Society of London’s People and the Planet report, “which focuses on reproductive rights and social justice as cornerstones of global economic sustainability” (Godoy, 5/30).
Citing a U.N. report released in May, titled “Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010,” which shows “the number of women worldwide dying of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications has almost halved in the last 20 years,” Agnes Odhiambo, a researcher for women in Africa at Human Rights Watch, writes in this Inter Press Service opinion piece, “Although there was a 41 percent reduction in sub-Saharan Africa, the progress is slow and uneven. â€¦ Greater effort is urgently needed to save pregnant women.” She continues, “African governments need to invest in strong health care systems and to ensure that there are enough health care facilities that can provide emergency obstetric care, equitably dispense suitable drugs and supplies, and employ a sufficient number of adequately trained health professionals, including those with midwifery skills.”