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Expert Panel Discusses Family Planning Issues In Guardian Podcast

In this global development podcast, the Guardian’s Annie Kelly is joined by Julia Bunting, head of the U.K. Department for International Development’s reproductive health team; Yasmin Ahmed, senior regional director for Asia at Marie Stopes International; Neil Datta, coordinator of the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development; and Gita Sen, professor at the Centre for Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management, for a discussion about family planning ahead of the July 11 London Summit on Family Planning. According to the Guardian, they examine “how and why such a controversial issue has become a worldwide priority,” and ask, “[W]hat are the political and practical challenges and what is at stake in such debates?” The podcast also includes comments from “Sarah Boseley, the Guardian’s health editor, Carmen Barrosso, western hemisphere director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Ney Costa, from the Brazilian NGO Bemfam, and from readers who commented on our talk point,” the newspaper adds (Kelly, 7/2).

Philippines To Spend Nearly $12M On Contraceptives To Bolster Family Planning, Reduce Maternal Mortality Rate

The government of the Philippines plans to spend nearly $12 million on contraceptives this year in an effort to “save its ‘failed’ family planning program and drastically cut maternal deaths,” according to the Department of Health, IRIN reports. However, “[i]t is a controversial decision that even public health officials and family planning advocates admit may not be carried out by local officials wary of angering the [Catholic] Church or losing the votes of Catholic supporters,” the news service writes. In addition to purchasing and distributing condoms, intra-uterine devices (IUDs), birth control pills, and other contraceptives “on a large scale for the first time in largely underfunded community centers across the country,” health officials say the plan “is aimed at cutting maternal mortality rates, which went from just 162 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006 to 221 in 2011 — a rise [of] 35 percent — according to the government’s 2011 Family Health Survey,” IRIN notes.

Working To Reduce Adolescent Pregnancy In Zimbabwe

As part of a monthly series of posts guest edited by FHI 360 on behalf of USAID’S Interagency Youth Working Group (IYWG), this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog by Primrose Nanchani Manyalo, a field officer at Restless Development, discusses how “adolescent pregnancy is a harsh reality that many young girls encounter.” Manyalo talks about her work with young women in Zimbabwe, and says everyone has a role to play in helping to prevent adolescent pregnancy. She concludes, “Young women need increased access to equal opportunities, education in sexual and reproductive health, youth-friendly services, social support, education, employment, and empowering life skills, so that unplanned childbearing does not hinder the achievement of their dreams at a young age” (6/29).

London Summit On Family Planning Poised To Provide 'Staggering' Results

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).

Melinda Gates Discusses Access To Contraceptives On 'The Colbert Report'

“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).

Recognizing The Role Of The Health Care Worker In Providing Family Planning Services

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…

Health Worker Training Programs Working To Improve Women's Health In Afghanistan

“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.

Can London Summit Broaden Discussion Of Family Planning To Include Needs Of Young Women?

“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.