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Increase In Number Of Women With Access To Modern Contraception Has Stalled, Report Says

“Progress in ensuring that women in poor countries have access to modern methods of contraception has stalled,” according to a new report (.pdf) by the United Nations Population Fund and the Guttmacher Institute, BMJ reports. The study “found that this year 645 million women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years) are using modern methods of contraception in the developing world, 42 million more than in 2008,” but “this rise is less than half the increase of 100 million between 2003 and 2008,” the journal writes.

U.S. Secretary Of State Clinton Defends Women's Reproductive Rights At Conclusion Of Rio+20 Conference

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “took a stand for women’s reproductive rights during the Rio+20 United Nations conference on Friday, saying ‘women must be empowered to make decisions on whether and when to have children’ if the world is to attain agreed-upon sustainable development goals,” the Associated Press/ABC News reports. Clinton “spoke during the conference’s last day, applauding the final document’s endorsement of women’s sexual and reproductive health but making it clear that she objected to the omission of specific language on reproductive rights,” the news service writes. “‘While I am very pleased that this year’s outcome document endorses sexual and reproductive health and universal access to family planning, to reach our goals in sustainable development we also have to ensure women’s reproductive rights,’ Clinton said,” according to the AP (Barbassa, 6/22).

No Definitive Link Between Hormonal Contraceptives And Increased Link Of HIV Infection Among Women, CDC Says

“There is no clear link between the use of contraceptives such as the birth control pill or Depo-Provera shots and an increased risk that a woman will contract HIV, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday,” Reuters reports, noting that the WHO came to the same conclusion in February. Following a review of recent studies suggesting women taking hormonal contraceptives might be at an increased risk of HIV infection, “the Atlanta-based CDC said, ‘the evidence does not suggest’ a link between oral contraceptives such as the birth control pill and increased HIV risk,” the news agency writes. CDC officials said though the evidence for injectable contraceptives is inconclusive, they too are safe, according to Reuters. “Women at risk for HIV infection or who already have the virus ‘can continue to use all hormonal contraceptive methods without restriction,’ the CDC said,” the news agency writes. However, “the CDC also said it was ‘strongly’ encouraging the use of condoms as a precaution against the virus that causes AIDS,” Reuters notes (Beasley, 6/21).

Women Discuss Intersection Of Sustainability, Environment And Empowerment, Reproductive Health At Rio+20 Side Event

In this post on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Vicky Markham, founding director of the Center for Environment and Population (CEP), summarizes a Rio+20 side event that took place on Thursday, titled “Rio+20 and Women’s Lives: A Cross-General Dialogue.” The event, co-organized by Climate Wise Women, CEP, and Columbia University’s Coalition for Sustainable Development, “featured six outstanding global women activists of different generations (from Uganda, Nigeria, Cook Islands, Mississippi/U.S., Philippines, and Brazil) who shared their colorful personal narratives to help us understand the cross-cutting impacts of climate change and other environmental issues on their lives” and “discussed the importance of women’s empowerment and reproductive health, and new, innovative connections among women of all ages for practical implementation of the Rio+20 outcome and beyond,” she writes (6/21).

Examining The 'Domino Effect' Of Family Planning

In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Megan Averill and Tricia Petruney, senior technical officers with FHI 360’s Global Health, Population and Nutrition Group, and Ward Cates, president emeritus at FHI 360, discuss the “domino effect” of family planning. “We’ll begin with a simple and intuitive causal relationship: voluntary use of contraception prevents unintended pregnancies,” they write, and highlight a number of benefits they say stem from this relationship. They conclude, “Until now, too few people have been aware and too few leaders willing to acknowledge the essential role that family planning plays in achieving sustainable development. Rio+20 is our chance to tip this pivotal domino piece forward, and witness the measurable cascade of progress it evokes” (6/18).

Reproductive Health Advocates React To Rio+20 Draft Document In Opinion Piece, Blog

Representatives meeting at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Tuesday “announced that they have reached an agreement [.pdf] on the outcome document,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The agreed outcome document spells out action points such as the need to establish sustainable development goals and mobilize financing for sustainable development, as well as the promotion of sustainable consumption and production,” according to the news service (6/19). The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” notes that “paragraph 145 reads: ‘We emphasize the need for the provision of universal access to reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health and the integration of reproductive health, in national strategies and programs'” (Ford, 6/20). The following summarizes an opinion piece and blog post addressing the outcome document.

Guardian Blog Profiles Work Of Brazilian Family Planning Organization

“In the 1990s, when the U.S. shifted its aid policy away from family planning, and from Latin America, the Brazilian NGO Bemfam found itself with a yearly funding hole of $2 million,” the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” reports in a profile of the NGO and family planning in Brazil. But the organization, which focuses on family planning and sexual and reproductive health, used $3 million in drawback funding from USAID to “set up a not-for-profit condom and lubricant business, Prosex,” the newspaper writes. The company “has proved so successful that it generates around $4 million a year for the NGO — about 40 percent of its funding — and is the fifth most popular condom brand in Brazil,” according to the newspaper. Bemfam “provides sex education to young people, promotes sexual and reproductive rights, and provides family planning services and counseling,” the Guardian writes (Ford, 6/20).

London Family Planning Summit 'Must Be About Enabling Women To Choose'

“As the London family planning summit looms closer, the debate begins over how much money is needed, what it should pay for and whether the fundamentally important issues of women’s reproductive rights will be addressed,” Sarah Boseley, health editor of the Guardian, writes in her “Global Health Blog.” Highlighting a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, which “assesses the scale of the unmet need for contraception,” she writes, “This report puts numbers and dollars into the frame ahead of the summit where the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation], [Department for International Development (DfID)], and others will be hoping big fat money pledges will be made, in the same way that the vaccines summit in London attracted massive donations — more money was raised than was hoped for.”

Family Planning Summit Offers Opportunity To Integrate Reproductive Services With HIV, Other Health Initiatives

Noting that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. government will co-host an international family planning summit in London in July, Gavin Yamey of the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco; Craig Cohen, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services at the University of California; and Elizabeth Bukusi, chief research officer and deputy director of research and training at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, write in a BMJ commentary, “More than 120 million women worldwide aged 15-49 years have an unmet need for family planning, which is due a renaissance after years of neglect.”

Saving Mothers, Giving Life Initiative Aims To Reduce Maternal Mortality

In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog, Deputy Editor Tom Murphy discusses the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative, which “support[s] the aggressive reduction of maternal mortality in countries with the highest mortality rates.” He notes that the “founding partners include the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI), Merck for Mothers, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), Every Mother Counts (EMC), and the Government of Norway,” and that they have pledged $200 million over five years. Murphy outlines the objectives of the initiative and highlights some of the comments made at its launch last week during the Child Survival Call to Action summit (6/19).