As part of its “Young people’s sexual health matters” series, the Guardian reports on a recent roundtable discussion hosted by the newspaper, in association with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), during which experts discussed key family planning issues ahead of the July 11 London Summit. “There was widespread agreement around the table that while increasing the physical supply of contraceptives to women in the developing world was crucial, it had to go hand-in-hand with better education about sex and relationships and a focus on rights,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Family planning — an unfortunate, old-fashioned term, some said — has long suffered from being associated by critics with population control” (Williams, 7/10).
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
Gates Foundation, U.K. Government Expected To Announce Additional Funding For Family Planning At London Summit
The U.K. Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with UNFPA and other partners on Wednesday, July 11, are hosting the London Summit on Family Planning, which aims “to raise $4 billion to expand access to contraception for 120 million women in the developing world by 2020,” according to Reuters. At the summit, the Gates Foundation “is set to unveil funding a sum in the hundreds of millions of dollars for a campaign to improve access to contraception in the developing world,” the news service notes (Wickham, 7/10). In addition, the U.K. government will “pledge to donate more than one billion pounds [$1.6 billion] to help family planning services in the developing world,” the Independent writes (Pickover, 7/11). The WHO “committed to fast-track its assessment of new and existing quality contraceptives so more women in low- and middle-income countries can obtain and use a broader range of safe and effective contraceptive products,” the agency reports in a media note (7/11).
African Leaders Should 'Take Action' To Implement Human-Rights Based Laws, Policies To Enhance HIV Response
Noting the release of a report (.pdf) from the Global Commission on HIV and the Law showing that “punitive laws are standing in the way of effective AIDS responses,” Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana, and Stephen Lewis, co-director and co-founder of AIDS-Free World, both members of the commission, write in a health-e opinion piece, “We cannot hope for an HIV-free generation when we have laws that marginalize and punish those most vulnerable to the disease.” They state that certain laws and customs in Africa “undermine the ability of women to protect themselves” and marginalize sex workers and men who have sex with men (MSM).
Leading up to the London Summit on Family Planning taking place July 11, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog published several posts addressing family planning issues. The following summarizes some of these posts.
On World Population Day, observed on Wednesday, the U.K. Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will host the London Summit on Family Planning. The following are summaries of opinion pieces published ahead of the conference.
A Lancet series on family planning, published Tuesday, “reviews the evidence for the effects of population and family planning on people’s well-being and the environment,” according to the series’ executive summary (7/10). One study in the series, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, “shows that fulfilling unmet contraception demand by women in developing countries could reduce global maternal mortality by nearly a third, a potentially great improvement for one of the world’s most vulnerable populations,” the New York Times reports (Tavernise, 7/9). A second study, led by John Cleland, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found “[c]ontraceptive use saves the lives of more than a quarter of million women each year, either from death in childbirth or unsafe abortions,” according to Agence France-Presse (7/10).
In a Guardian opinion piece, part of the series “The politics of family planning,” columnist Zoe Williams examines family planning Nepal. Noting her trip to the country with Save the Children, Williams discusses a number of barriers to family planning for Nepalese women — including the practice of child marriage, stigma surrounding menstruation, and cultural beliefs about contraception — and writes, “In Nepal, opportunities for women are not all they should be, and child pregnancy is a big issue.” However, she adds, “Nepalese women are far from subservient, and are learning to take control of their lives” (7/6). The column is accompanied by a photo slideshow (Lee, 7/6).
With the closure of the Global Health Initiative office and the establishment of the Office of Global Health Diplomacy within the State Department last week, “[t]he Obama administration made some quiet changes … that strengthen one of its most significant policy shifts: that global health and foreign assistance are critical components of diplomacy,” Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. The new office “will implement the principles of the Global Health Initiative that make economic and humanitarian sense, namely a woman-centered approach, country ownership, and health sector integration,” she writes, adding, “The GHI’s principles have the potential to make real progress against the world’s greatest health challenges, and we have to pay meticulous attention to ensuring they are put into action.”
With the London Summit on Family Planning scheduled to take place this week, Melinda Gates writes in a post on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog that family planning “can mean everything to so many of the women and families I meet.” She continues, “Providing family planning information and services to millions of women and girls in the poorest countries in the world gives them the opportunity to determine their own futures, and the best future for their children. As a woman and a mother, I can’t imagine anything more important.” Gates asks readers to watch and comment on a short video on the site (7/6).
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “tried to deflect controversy” surrounding the London Summit on Family Planning to take place this week, stating that “giving women better access to contraception had become her lifetime’s work,” the Guardian reports (McVeigh, 7/7). “On Wednesday, the Gates Foundation and the British government will convene a summit of world leaders in London with the goal of raising $4 billion to make contraceptives available to an additional 120 million women in the poorest countries,” the Seattle Times notes, adding, “The move puts the Gates Foundation on a collision course with the Catholic Church and elements of the religious right” (Doughton, 7/7). U.K. Minister for International Development Andrew Mitchell supported Gates, saying, “We have to focus on what we know there is widespread support for,” according to the Guardian.