The Financial Times examines efforts by “Ethiopian policymakers, faced with a rapidly expanding population and rising numbers of HIV/AIDS infections,” to integrate family planning into HIV counseling and testing programs in the country. “When counseling women on reproductive health or child immunization, family planning clinics can also discuss HIV testing and prevention, particularly condom use, as well as introducing pregnant women to mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention services,” the newspaper notes.
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
“A group of 15 prominent Chinese scholars issued an open letter on Thursday calling for a rethink of [the] country’s family planning laws, arguing that the law in its present form is incompatible with China’s increasing respect for human rights and need for sustainable economic development,” according to the Wall Street Journal’s “China Real Time Report.” “‘The birth approval system built on the idea of controlling population size as emphasized in the current ‘Population and Family Planning Law’ does not accord with provisions on the protection of human rights contained in the nation’s constitution,’ the authors of Thursday’s letter wrote, adding that a rewriting of the law was ‘imperative,'” the blog adds.
Ahead of July 11, World Population Day and the date of the London Summit on Family Planning, VOA News examines family planning efforts in Uganda, where the average woman will give birth to about seven children during her lifetime. “Access to family planning is not the only problem, says [Ministry of Health official Jennifer] Wanyana, who adds that many Ugandans oppose contraception for cultural reasons or they associate family planning with promiscuity,” VOA writes, adding, “Experts say that beliefs like this might be the most difficult challenge.” The article discusses efforts by the health ministry to educate the public and provide contraceptives and health care (Heuler, 7/5).
In the third post in a series by Marie Stopes International published on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Mukanga Sindazi, the outreach team leader with Marie Stopes in Zambia, discusses his work traveling through the rural Central Province to educate women and men about family planning and provide modern contraceptives. “At the family planning summit in London next week, I hope world leaders will recognize the challenges facing rural women,” he writes, concluding, “So our hope is that we can all come together to remember the girls and women of the countryside. Our hope is that they can imagine a world where, however isolated your community, having contraception is a usual thing — and not a luxury” (7/5).
Ahead of the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, Gary Darmstadt, head of the Family Health Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examines barriers to contraceptive use in this post in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Poor collaboration in recent years means that donors have not been aligned and, as such, there has been inadequate, inconsistent and unpredictable funding for family planning programs globally,” he states, adding, “The other recurring theme of existing barriers is the lack of information at all levels — global, national, and community level — about the health benefits of planning and spacing children and the available methods to do that.” He concludes, “[U]nderstanding the problem and barriers to planning a family is the first step in establishing an ambitious yet achievable goal and mobilizing the global community behind it” (7/5).
Exclusion Of Reproductive Rights From Rio+20 Agreement 'Backslide' On Women's Rights, Former Ireland President Robinson Says
“Women’s rights are under the greatest attack for almost 20 years after a failure of world leaders to continue to support reproductive rights, according to Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland,” the Guardian reports in its series “The Politics of Family Planning.” “Robinson joined campaigners criticizing the final agreement reached between 190 countries at the Rio+20 summit,” the news service writes, adding, “The former president accused global leaders of ‘backsliding on fundamental texts’ agreed at two summits subsequently lauded for protecting women and girls: Cairo in 1994 and Beijing in 1995.”
Philippines Experiencing Increasing Number Of New HIV Cases; Leaders Say Country Should Reconsider Policies
“At a time when many countries are seeing their HIV infection rates level off or decline,” health officials in the Philippines “have seen an unexpected surge in cases in the past several years, with a more than five-fold increase between 2007 and 2011, with 2,349 new cases last year,” the Wall Street Journal’s “Southeast Asia Real Time” blog reports, noting, “The total number of cases as of April 2012 is 9,396, compared to just 3,061 in 2007.” The blog continues, “Doctors are still trying to determine the cause of the unexpected increase. Either way, domestic and international HIV experts have been warning for a while that the Philippines has all the necessary ingredients for an HIV epidemic,” including low condom use, communities where multiple sexual partners or sex workers are widespread, and workers who travel overseas, “often in jobs or in regions that have relatively high rates of infection.”
In this audio report in PRI’s “The World,” PRI anchor “Aaron Schachter talks to Agnes Odhiambo, a researcher on women’s rights in Africa for New York-based Human Rights Watch, about the terrible toll of teenage pregnancy and childbirth in Africa.” “Teenage pregnancy is an issue of pandemic proportions in Africa,” Odhiambo said, adding, “Teenage pregnancy is really an issue that has serious negative consequences for girls, for the development of communities and for the development of cultures.” She discussed progress toward reducing maternal deaths in various African countries and said that a number of factors contribute to maternal mortality, including a lack of sexual education for young girls, some traditional practices, such as early marriage, and the inadequate provision of health services (7/3).
Though Indonesia is “widely seen as a development success story — indeed, it is sometimes referred to as one of Asia’s ‘rising powers’ … in the area of maternal health, the successes have been modest and much remains to be done,” Andrew Rosser, associate director of the Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, writes in an Inside Indonesia opinion piece. “Indonesia is on track to meet many of these goals,” including those related to poverty, child nutrition and mortality, education, and tuberculosis and malaria, “[b]ut it is well off track when it comes to goals related to maternal health,” he states. The country also is “failing to meet its targets on the use of modern methods of contraception and reducing the ‘unmet need’ for family planning — that is, the proportion of couples who want to limit the number of children they have but do not have access to contraception,” Rosser notes.
In the second post in a series titled “Imagine a World…,” posted on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Faustina Fynn-Nyame, director of Marie Stopes International in Ghana, discusses reproductive health in Ghana, writing, “For some women here, choices about reproductive health are something they take for granted,” but “other women in Ghana — indeed most — are not able to do this.” She continues, “So, with our partners, we work hard to give more women equal access to contraception and sexual and reproductive health services, right here, with our own countrywomen,” and highlights several ways in which they are working to accomplish this goal (7/2).