Though demographers do not know exactly when the world’s population will hit seven billion, the U.N. symbolically marked the day on Monday with celebrations and warnings about safety, health and sustainability. The following is a summary of several opinion pieces published in recognition of the day.
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
Exclusion Of Family Planning, HIV Prevention From Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Partnership Is ‘Counter-Intuitive’
In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, examines the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partnership, which was launched last month by PEPFAR in conjunction with the George W. Bush Institute, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and UNAIDS with the aim of “integrat[ing] cervical and breast cancer education, screening, and treatment with HIV services.” She continues, “Given that women living with HIV are at an increased risk of developing cervical cancer, it makes sense. It’s a logical and critical part of what PEPFAR is calling care and support services.” But while the initiative “has the potential to reduce the number of cancer deaths among women living with HIV and improve their overall health,” the fact “that planning a family and preventing further HIV transmission is not part of what PEPFAR is calling care and support” is “counter-intuitive and counter-productive,” Sippel writes.
The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” examines how religious leaders on the island of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, are using the Qur’an to shift attitudes about the issues of sex, contraception, and HIV/AIDS in an effort to reduce HIV infection, improve maternal health and curb rapid population growth. “Their aim is to shift deep-rooted views in their devout Islamic society that contraception is a sin,” according to the blog. “Compared with the Tanzanian mainland, Zanzibar has half the rate of use of contraception — just 13 percent in fertile women in 2011 — and more than double the proportion of Muslims, at 95 percent,” the blog notes, adding that imams’ work to educate the population is working, as “contraceptive use has crept up from nine percent to 13 percent in the past four years” (Carrington, 10/31).
As part of a special report called “Child Brides,” GlobalPost features a two-part series looking at child marriage in Nepal. “The practice carries with it devastating consequences for young girls’ health and wellbeing, child advocates say, and yet the social, economic and cultural pressures associated with the tradition make it difficult to end. Officially, it is against the law to marry under the age of 20, but these laws go ignored, particularly in remote areas. The child marriage rate is dropping in Nepal, yet the practice is still common among poor, rural families,” according to the first article (Win, 10/30). The second article looks at how Nepalese women who marry young have reduced opportunities to receive a formal education (Win, 10/30).
This report, titled “Improving Women’s Heath in South Africa: Opportunities for PEPFAR,” by Janet Fleischman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that with “major change … unfolding in health and HIV services in South Africa,” “[t]he United States can find feasible, flexible ways to support” the decentralization…
Global Post Interviews Former U.N. General Assembly President On Role Of Water, Sanitation In Family Planning
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog interviewed Ambassador Jan Eliasson, former president of the U.N. General Assembly and Sweden’s former minister for foreign affairs, on how water and sanitation play a part in family planning, as the world’s population approaches seven billion. Eliasson discusses his interest in women’s reproductive health issues, strategies for increasing attention on these issues, and difficulties faced by policymakers on the issues surrounding family planning, among other topics. “We don’t realize when you look at the issues of child mortality, women’s health, or education, all the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) are affected by water and sanitation. I see a real need for a horizontal approach to health. Population issues and family planning are an integrated part of solving that problem,” he said (Donnelly, 10/26).
“Instead of worrying about sheer numbers when the world’s population hits seven billion next week, we should think about how to make the planet a better place for people to live in, the United Nations said” in its report, “The State of World Population 2011,” released Wednesday, Reuters reports (Ormsby, 10/26). “The world must seize the opportunity to invest in the health and education of its youth to reap the full benefits of future economic development or else face a continuation of the sorry state of disparities in which hundreds of millions of people in developing nations lack the most basic ingredients for a decent life, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said in the foreword of the study,” the U.N. News Centre writes.
Disconnecting Global AIDS From Reproductive Health Stalled Efforts to Expand Family Planning Services, UNFPA Head Says
Babatunde Osotimehin, the executive director of the U.N. Population Fund (UNPFA), said in an interview with the Guardian that “efforts to expand family planning services in the developing world stalled for a decade while global health organizations turned their energies to fighting HIV/AIDS. ‘We made a mistake. We disconnected HIV from reproductive health. We should never have done that because it is part and parcel,’ he said.” The newspaper adds, “Osotimehin said the international community was regaining momentum in its efforts to make family planning services available to women in all countries” and “argued it was crucial for developing countries to devote a larger share of their own resources to family planning and health.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights has released its online World’s Abortion Laws map for 2011. The center has produced the map since 1998 “to visually compare the legal status of induced abortion in different countries — and to advocate for greater progress in ensuring access to safe and legal abortion services…
The Guardian examines China’s one-child policy and its impact. The newspaper writes that “the description of the system as a ‘one-child policy’ is misleading. Most married women in China have the chance to bear two offspring, but the entitlement to breed beyond a solitary child is determined by a complex set of rules” and factors. In fact, the policy’s “countless adjustments over the past 30 years have created a mind-bogglingly complex system that touches on everything from contraception and sterilization to pensions and tax incentives,” according to the Guardian. The newspaper notes that “across all of China, the government claims there would be more than 300 million more children without the family planning policy” and that “the nation’s population is forecast to peak around 2030,” leading “many [to] say the family planning policy had outlived its usefulness.” It also describes the policy’s effects in Henan Province, which “claims some of the greatest successes in taming demographic growth through its family planning policies” (Watts 10/25).