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.
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
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.”
Participants Of 5th International Parliamentarian Conference On Population, Development Reiterate Commitment To 1994 Program Of Action
“Participants at the Fifth International Parliamentarians’ Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) ended [a two-day meeting in Istanbul, Turkey] Friday with a joint pledge to advocate for increased funding for full implementation of the decades-old ICPD Programme of Action,” Inter Press Service reports. According to the news service, “about 300 members of parliament from 110 countries issued the Istanbul Statement of Commitment, reiterating their commitment to achieve the goals laid out in the ICPD Programme of Action adopted in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.” “According to the statement, implementation of the programme is ‘essential for countries to reduce poverty and social and economic inequality, improve the lives of their people and safeguard the health and rights of women, including sexual and reproductive health rights,'” IPS writes.
Inter Press Service reports on the Fifth International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) program of action, taking place in Istanbul, Turkey. “According to a preliminary draft Istanbul Declaration issued by conference participants, the world’s parliamentarians are determined to play their role in mobilizing the necessary resources for the ICPD agenda, as well as strengthening parliamentary oversight in ensuring its implementation,” IPS writes, adding, “In the draft declaration, to be finalized and adopted Friday, parliamentarians committed to looking ahead to ensure that future priorities are included in the goals and targets being developed through the post-2015 development agenda processes.” The news service also notes that “one of the outcomes of this meeting will be a call for governments to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets to ICPD programs” (Atarah, 5/25).
UNAIDS and PEPFAR recently brought together the ministers of health and representatives of the 22 countries with the most new HIV cases among children to discuss progress on the Global Plan towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive agreed to at the 2011 U.N. High-Level Meeting on AIDS, according to a UNAIDS press release. Though “great strides have been made in reducing HIV infections among women of reproductive age and expanding access to antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women living with HIV, … progress is not being scaled up as quickly on meeting the family planning needs of women living with HIV, preventing maternal mortality and ensuring that all children living with HIV have access to antiretroviral therapy,” according to UNAIDS. “The meeting was the first annual face-to-face gathering of representatives from the 22 focus countries since the launch of the Global Plan,” the press release notes (5/23).
“[E]vidence shows that family planning prevents the needless deaths of women worldwide,” which should “be cause to sustain or even increase U.S. investments in these programs,” Chloe Cooney, director of global advocacy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), writes in this RH Reality Check blog post. “Yet, once again, the House Appropriations Committee voted to let politics interfere with life-saving health care for women,” she continues, adding, “Last week, the House Appropriations Committee proposed to cut funding for international family planning programs and impose harmful restrictions on women’s access to essential health care.” Cooney notes that the Senate version of the bill “increases support for international family planning without attaching restrictions that would undercut these efforts.” She cites a recent U.N. report that “confirms that birth control and reproductive health services are essential to saving women’s lives,” and concludes, “The impact of the decisions made by this Congress will be felt in the lives of women and families around the world” (5/22).