Describing a maternal health program that promotes family planning in the rural village of Bweremana in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Michael Gerson writes in his Washington Post column that “[t]he very words ‘family planning’ light up the limbic centers of American politics.” But “in places such as Bweremana, family planning is undeniably pro-life,” Gerson says, noting that “[w]hen contraceptive prevalence is low, about 70 percent of all births involve serious risk. When prevalence is high, the figure is 35 percent.”
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Russia “is in a demographic crisis, shedding 2.2 million people (or 1.6 percent of the population) since 2002, and the government is trying to encourage more women to bring Russian citizens into the world,” journalist Natalia Antonova writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, in which she describes her experience with the Russian medical system after “unexpectedly” becoming pregnant shortly after receiving her visa to work in Moscow.
“Giving vitamin A supplements to children under the age of five in developing countries could save 600,000 lives a year, researchers claim” in a paper published Thursday in the British Medical Journal, BBC News reports. “UK and Pakistani experts assessed 43 studies involving 200,000 children, and found deaths were cut by 24 percent if children were given the vitamin … And they say taking it would also cut rates of measles and diarrhea,” the news agency writes.
“The rotavirus vaccine introduced in Mexico in 2007 still appears to be preventing diarrhea-related deaths in children, despite speculation that years later the vaccine may not be as effective,” according to the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog. “In a letter released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers report that the vaccine still seems to be successful in reducing mortality rates among children,” the blog writes, adding that rotavirus “is responsible for 527,000 childhood deaths per year” worldwide.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced this week “that it is accepting proposals for Round 8 of its Grand Challenges Explorations, a $100 million grant initiative to encourage innovation in global health and development research,” according to a Gates Foundation press release. Topics include areas of agriculture, nutrition, immunization…
GlobalPost Examines Whether U.S. Policy Prohibiting Funding For Abortion Services Hurting GHI Efforts In Nepal
GlobalPost reports on President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) in Nepal, one of eight GHI focus countries, and examines whether “a long-standing U.S. law” that “prohibits U.S. funds from being used for abortion services overseas for the purpose of family planning … is hurting its efforts to improve health care” in the country.
In a Huffington Post opinion piece, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes about the Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge in Development competition, which “called for groundbreaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant mothers and newborns around the time of birth in rural settings.”
“[M]alnutrition, one of the leading killers of children under five in the Central American nation [of Guatemala], is receiving scant attention on the campaign trail” ahead of the country’s presidential elections scheduled for September, AlertNet reports. “Organized crime and rising drug-fuelled violence” are overshadowing many issues, according to the news service.
South African Health Minister Promotes Exclusive Breastfeeding To Fight Rising Infant Mortality Rate
Speaking at a breastfeeding conference on Tuesday in Johannesburg, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that “reducing child mortality is one of the most important priorities in our country and central to this is breastfeeding as a child survival strategy,” Agence France-Presse reports.
“Dominican hospitals and clinics are being overwhelmed by Haitian women â€¦ who make up roughly half of the patients giving birth in Dominican hospitals, officials here say,” the Washington Post reports. “They come because they don’t have access to health care in Haiti, especially since last year’s earthquake. They come because they can get free health care in the Dominican Republic each year, and so that they can have their babies in hospitals instead of on the floors of their homes,” the newspaper writes.