“If a Republican becomes president, … say goodbye to international programs providing birth control to women in desperately poor countries such as Liberia,” senior contributing writer Michelle Goldberg writes in this Daily Beast opinion piece. Goldberg notes that birth control has become a “significant issue in the U.S. presidential campaign,” writing, “All of the Republican candidates have slammed the administration’s refusal to give religious institutions a broad exemption from the mandate that insurance cover family planning.”
Family Planning & Reproductive Health
PBS NewsHour on Monday aired the second installment in its “Food for 9 Billion” series, in which “Sam Eaton of Homelands Productions goes to the fishing village of Humay-Humay” in the Philippines and “speaks with families about their concerns that future generations won’t enjoy the same access to fish as a food staple and way of life,” the PBS NewsHour blog “The Rundown” reports. The video report looks at how “one organization is making birth control more readily accessible to those wishing to keep their families small,” according to the blog.
“After a period of substantial decline, the global abortion rate has stalled, according to new research from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO)” published in the Lancet on Wednesday, a Guttmacher press release reports. “Between 1995 and 2003, the overall number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15-44 years) dropped from 35 to 29” but, “according to the new study, the global abortion rate in 2008 was virtually unchanged, at 28 per 1,000,” the press release states. “This plateau coincides with a slowdown, documented by the United Nations, in contraceptive uptake, which has been especially marked in developing countries,” according to the press release. “The researchers also found that nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, … almost all unsafe abortions occur in the developing world,” and “restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower rates of abortion,” the press release adds (1/18).
A U.S. Embassy statement on Saturday said the U.S. would provide nearly $1 billion to Bangladesh over the next five years “towards alleviating poverty and malnutrition, as well as family planning and the fight against infectious diseases,” Reuters reports. “The funds will also be used to support research in improving farm productivity and deal with the impact of climate change,” the news service writes, adding, “As of 2011, the U.S. government has provided over $5.7 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh” (Quadir, 1/14).
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof continue to answer readers’ questions in this second installment on Kristof’s “On the Ground” blog. Gates and Kristof answer questions about corruption and contraception in Bangladesh, where Gates recently visited, and why more efforts are not being concentrated on children in the U.S. (1/11).
Al Jazeera’s “101 East” reports on how, “[a]s China faces social dilemmas such as a widening gender imbalance, it is considering loosening its [so-called] one-child policy.” According to the 25-minute video program, “China’s fertility rate is below the replacement level, providing fewer workers to support a rapidly growing elderly population,” and “with a cultural preference for boys, China faces an alarming gender imbalance with projections of 30 million more men than women by 2020” (Nettleton, 1/5).
In this video clip from NBC’s Today show, contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager reports on a recent family trip to Africa to visit PEPFAR-funded programs and to announce a new initiative by the George W. Bush Institute to fight cervical cancer. In the video, the Bushes travel to Tanzania, where they visit a PEPFAR-funded program called Jipende!, which trains hairstylists as health educators in 70 salons throughout the country, and to Zambia, where they visit the Ocean Road Cancer Institute and discuss a new initiative for cervical cancer testing, treatment and vaccination (12/22).
ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday examined maternal health and mortality worldwide in a program titled “Giving Life: A Risky Proposition.” The show was a sort of “sequel” to a series launched last year called “Be the Change: Save a Life,” host Diane Sawyer said (12/16). ABC News also posted a list of statistics related to maternal health (Jester, 12/17).
The Washington Post examines how “Pakistan’s family planning efforts have lagged far behind those of other large Muslim-majority nations,” despite rising population numbers. “In fits and starts, public and private agencies in Pakistan are advocating contraception to curb the country’s surging population, prevent deaths during childbirth and help provide better lives for those who are born. But in this deeply conservative society, women themselves are often the least able to decide, and the people who can — husbands, mullahs, mothers-in-law — still prize many children, particularly boys,” the newspaper writes. “The sixth most populous country …, Pakistan has South Asia’s highest fertility rate, at about four children per woman,” but “[t]oday, just one in five Pakistani women ages 15 to 49 uses modern birth control,” the newspaper notes (Brulliard, 12/14).
“In Pakistan, where the powerful military consumes a large chunk of the budget and development spending has stagnated, family-planning efforts have consistently fallen victim to tumultuous and weak governance,” the newspaper notes, adding, “The bigger cultural hurdles, the workers say, are husbands and mothers-in-law, as well as the inability of many women to make decisions for themselves.” It concludes, “Amid massive electricity shortfalls, failing schools, high unemployment and rising Islamist militancy, many here say the booming population is a ticking time bomb” (Brulliard, 12/14).
In this Knowledge for Health (K4Health) blog post, Elsie Mwaniki, a communication specialist at K4Health, reflects on the integration of family planning and HIV services, writing, “Many HIV-positive women have an unmet need for family planning (FP) services,” so providing these services together (FP/HIV integration) “makes sense.” She recaps a panel discussion…