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Family Planning Efforts In Pakistan Lag Despite Rising Population, Washington Post Reports

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).

Integration Of Family Planning, HIV Programs ‘Makes Sense’

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…

Family Planning Spending Cuts Will Lead To ‘More Unwanted’ Pregnancies, ‘Unsafe Abortions’

“Unwanted babies and unsafe abortion are major problems in the developing world, yet funding for contraception is limited because of attitudes to sex and abortion in donor countries,” the Guardian’s Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog.” She reflects on her time spent in Dakar, Senegal, last week for the 2nd International Conference on Family Planning, and writes that, “in francophone Africa …, only 10 percent of women have access to what are called modern methods of family planning,” such as hormonal contraceptive injections or pills.

Reuters Examines Role Of Family Planning At Durban Climate Change Talks

“[W]ith studies suggesting that 215 million women around the world want — but cannot get — effective contraception, making sure birth control methods are available to those who want them could be one of the cheapest, fastest and most effective ways of addressing climate change, experts said at the U.N. climate conference in Durban” this week, AlertNet reports. “But getting U.N. climate negotiators to even mention the controversial issue is nearly as difficult as getting them to agree on a long-delayed new global climate treaty,” the news agency adds.

2nd International Conference On Family Planning Concludes in Senegal

The 2nd International Conference on Family Planning ended on Friday in Dakar, Senegal, Ghana Business News reports, noting that more than 2,200 people attended the conference to “shar[e] research, best practices, and progress on national strategies to deliver family planning services, with the ultimate goal being universal access to family planning.” The news service notes that UNFPA requested an “acceleration in funding for [family planning] activities to make decisive progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goal 5” (12/3). In related news, the Guardian examines family planning in Dakar, which was chosen to host the conference “because this is what one conference participant called ‘the wild, wild west of family planning,'” according to the newspaper (Boseley, 12/2).

December Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

The December issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on effective aid in complex settings; a public health round-up; an article on the “One World” approach to global health; a research paper on U.S. aid policy and induced abortion in sub-Saharan Africa; and a policy article on lay health worker attrition (December 2011).

‘Simple Solutions’ Available To Improve Family Health

“Although advances in vaccines, nutrition and family health have dramatically reduced the number of child deaths in the past 50 years, nearly eight million children younger than five still die every year,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in this CNN opinion piece. She adds, “To me, this number is unacceptable, because most of these deaths could be avoided” by providing antibiotics, sterile medical supplies, or education on breastfeeding, as well by improving access to nutrient-rich foods and effective contraceptives.

Thousands Gather In Senegal For Second International Conference On Family Planning

“Thousands gathered in Senegal [Tuesday] for the opening of the second International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), the largest meeting of its kind, which will run until December 2, 2011,” the Foreign Policy Association blog reports (Clifford, 11/29). The meeting “will aim to push forward an agenda for broad family planning access and support around the world,” according to the Accra Mail (11/29). “The historic four-day conference features more than 140 plenaries, sessions and panels that will share latest research, proven strategies, and lessons learned in addressing the massive need for contraception worldwide,” the Foreign Policy Association blog writes, adding, “Participants will seek to galvanize greater political and financial support, hold governments accountable for their commitments, and champion contraceptive innovation and access” (11/29).