The current issue of Science magazine features a special section that explores issues surrounding population growth, “many of which continue to split demographers,” according to the section’s introduction. “Debate continues over â€¦ whether rapid population growth is best dealt with by expanding family planning programs or implementing policies that will improve livelihoods and increase the education of girls and young women â€“ or both. Still, many experts remain optimistic that with the right mix of policies, countries can harness the opportunities for economic growth and development offered by a young and educated workforce, congregating in dense, networked urban environments,” Science reports (Chin/Marathe/Roberts, 7/29).
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
In a guest post on the GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, describes the Malawian government’s “plans to launch a ‘test and treat’ program in which all HIV-infected pregnant women will immediately be put on antiretroviral treatment (ART) drugs for life.” But she adds that “[t]he growing political and economic crisis in Malawi, highlighted by the government’s use of force against peaceful demonstrators last week, could also imperil the groundbreaking expansion of Malawi’s national HIV/AIDS program.”
“When women are healthy and empowered, they can spark a ripple effect in their families, communities and nations that can lead to lower rates of poverty and stronger economic growth and productivity,” Tamara Kreinin, executive director of women and population at the United Nations Foundation, writes in a “RH Reality Check” blog post. “By voting to reduce funding for international reproductive health and family planning activities, eliminate funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), and reinstate the Global Gag Rule, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs threatens to turn back the clock on women’s health and has taken its disturbing war on women to a global stage,” she writes, referring to the House FY12 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (7/27).
The contentious nature of abortion in American politics is “distracting U.S. policymakers from what should be the real conversation in a country that leads the world in human reproductive technology: whether to allow parents to use a growing range of methods to select for characteristics like sex (or diseases that come on late in life and, perhaps one day, IQ) in their children. Because sex selection is not just a developing world problem â€“ it’s an American problem, too,” Mara Hvistendahl, a Beijing-based correspondent with Science magazine, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday released the FY12 Foreign Relations Authorization Act “that slashes State Department funding and foreign aid,” The Hill’s “On The Money” blog reports (Wasson, 7/26).
Following a House Foreign Affairs Committee vote last week to reinstate and expand the “global gag rule” in the FY12 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (HR 2583), GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog features an interview with “Craig Lasher, theÂ director of U.S. government relations at Population Action International, about the global gag rule,…
The New York Times on Saturday examined research into several different methods of male contraception. “Male contraceptives are attracting growing interest from scientists, who believe they hold promise for being safe, effective and, also important, reversible,” the newspaper writes. “Prompted by women’s organizations, global health groups and surveys indicating that men are receptive, federal agencies are financing research. Some methods will be presented at an October conference sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” according to the newspaper (Belluck, 7/23).
“Chinese officials are fiercely attached to the one-child policy. They attribute to it almost every drop in fertility and every averted birth: some 400m more people, they claim, would have been born without it,” an Economist editorial states, adding, “This is patent nonsense. Chinese fertility was falling for decades before the one-child policy took effect in 1979.”
“Demography is like a supertanker; it takes decades to turn around. It will pose some of China’s biggest problems. The old leadership is wedded to the one-child policy, but the new leadership, which is due to take over next year, can think afresh. It should end this abomination as soon as it takes power,” the Economist writes (7/21).
The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday voted to “reinstate a ban on providing foreign aid to groups that perform abortions or provide advice about the procedure,” The Hill’s “HealthWatch” blog reports on the “so-called ‘global gag rule'” (Baker, 7/21).
PBS Newshour’s global health unit on Monday began a four-part series examining major health challenges in Indonesia, which “sheds light on the diverse nation’s changing political landscape, deplorable conditions for people there with severe mental illness, the effect of rising food prices and research into a plant that could be used as a male contraceptive,” the Newshour’s “The Rundown” blog states. The blog links to other video, photo and written reports from the team, including a piece on an Indonesian law that encourages breastfeeding (Miller, 7/14).