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Women's Rights To Family Planning Should Not Be Controversial

“There should be #NoControversy about a woman’s right to plan when and how many children to have, to have the opportunity to improve her own health and that of her children, to educate her children and to grow her family’s economic productivity,” Gary Darmstadt, head of the family health division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wendy Prosser, a research analyst with the family health division, write in this post in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. The authors highlight a recent TEDxChange talk by Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, in which “she addresses the issues surrounding birth control and how it is literally life-saving for millions of women and children around the world.” They continue, “But of course, any time politics, religion, and sex are intertwined, controversy tends to emerge,” and discuss several viewpoints that have emerged in media coverage of the issue (5/14).

International Community Should Unite To Ensure Adequate Family Planning Services For Women In West Africa, Globally

“For many years, in large parts of West Africa, the percentage of women who use contraception has stalled at less than 10 percent, leading many to declare that there is very little or no demand for family planning (FP) in the region. This couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Catharine McKaig, project director of family planning at the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), the USAID Bureau for Global Health’s flagship maternal, neonatal and child health program, writes in a post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “Among women — young and old, those who have had many children and those who have had few or none — there is a sea-change happening. These women are expressing their desire for family planning methods, and our approach towards integrating maternal and child health care services with FP is producing results,” she writes, concluding, “It is an optimal moment to unite as a community supporting women’s health worldwide to ensure adequate supply and minimal cost for family planning services to the hundreds of thousands of women in West Africa who are seeking care” (5/10).

Gates Foundation Announces New Grants For Global Health Development Proposals Through Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, through its Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, [on Wednesday] announced over 100 new grants of $100,000 each to support innovative global health and development proposals that have the potential to unlock transformative, life-saving solutions in the developing world,” a foundation press release reports. “Additionally, the Gates Foundation announced additional funding of up to $1 million each for six existing Grand Challenges Explorations projects to enable grantees to continue to advance their ideas towards global impact,” the press release adds (5/9).

Newsweek Examines Melinda Gates’ Focus On Family Planning Issues

“[I]n an exclusive interview with Newsweek,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discussed how “she has decided to make family planning her signature issue and primary public health a priority.” Gates said, “My goal is to get this back on the global agenda,” the news service writes. “Gates believes that by focusing on the lives of women and children, and by making it clear that the agenda is neither coercive population control nor abortion, the controversy over international family planning programs can be defused,” according to Newsweek.

Gates Answers Questions Regarding Speech Delivered At Stanford University Last Month

PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog provides a video of Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaking at Stanford University on innovation in poverty alleviation last month. The blog notes, “People had the opportunity to ask further questions via Twitter,” and provides a link to the Gates Notes blog,…

Global Fund Completes Reorganization Of Workforce, Tightens Focus To 20 ‘High-Impact Countries’

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria “is cutting its workforce and tightening its focus on 20 countries hardest hit by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” Reuters reports. Gabriel Jaramillo, who took over as general manager of the fund in February, “said in a statement that the fund had completed a reorganization that would rebalance its workforce with 39 percent more people managing grants and 38 percent fewer in support roles,” the news service notes.

‘Taboo’ Surrounding Toilets, Sanitation Hindering Progress Toward Improved Access

“Governments are failing to fund projects to improve access to toilets and other sanitation services in poor countries because the subject remains ‘taboo,’ a director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Monday,” Reuters reports. “About 1.1 billion people across the world still defecate in the open because they have no toilets, according to the United Nations,” Reuters writes. “It’s the last big taboo and as a result more than one million kids die every year. Diarrhea is the second largest cause of death after respiratory infections in young children,” Frank Rijsberman, director of water, sanitation and hygiene at the foundation, said at the Global Water Summit 2012 conference in Rome, the news service notes.

Melinda Gates Discusses Inclusion Of Contraception In Global Health Agenda

In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, discusses including contraception on the global health agenda. “I have learned a lot from following the reaction to the talk I gave at TEDxChange two weeks ago,” she writes, adding, “Because I’m so passionate about the issue, I’m excited to see so many people talking about it online. The more people talk, I think, the more they’ll realize how much agreement there is around the basic argument that birth control saves lives and helps families build a better future.” She concludes, “I believe in giving women the methods they want to use so they can do what’s best for themselves and their families. … I hope we can agree that there really is no controversy around this idea” (4/26).

Blog Posts Report On International Treatment As Prevention Conference In Vancouver

Two separate posts in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog report on the International Treatment as Prevention conference in Vancouver. The first post recaps an update from Stephen Becker of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday “about the Foundation’s treatment optimization activities,” writing, “According to Becker, the Foundation acknowledges that treatment will be at the center of HIV prevention efforts, but ‘no amount of treatment will obviate the need for primary prevention modalities'” (Lubinski, 4/24). The second post reports that, “[d]espite its status as one of the poorest countries in Africa and its failed effort to garner a Round 10 grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — Malawi is moving forward to implement ‘Option B+’ for pregnant women,” meaning “pregnant and lactating women are enrolled in antiretroviral therapy (ART) programs for life, regardless of CD4 count” (Lubinski, 4/24).