“[T]his Valentine’s Day, perhaps it’s time to celebrate with a gift many of the world’s women desperately want and need: reproductive health,” Robert Engelman, president of the Worldwatch Institute, writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. Engelman provides global maternal mortality statistics and notes, “Access to family planning and other reproductive health services safeguard the lives of women and their children and promote families that are emotionally and economically healthy.”
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Foreign Policy examines “India’s flourishing fertility treatment business,” a multi-billion dollar industry that “has earned India the dubious reputation of being the world’s baby factory.” While “regulation has not kept pace with the proliferation of clinics” and some “facilities have been accused of a litany of shocking abuses,” “[t]he Indian government is gearing up to pass a new law to regulate the fertility business,” the magazine writes. The article focuses on “one pressing issue [that] has remained beyond the purview of regulation: How old is too old to get pregnant?” and discusses post-menopausal aged women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other fertility treatments in order to become pregnant (Chopra, 2/10).
“A group of prominent activists from around the world known as ‘The Elders’ arrived in India Thursday to take a stand against the practice of child marriage” and promote its global “Girls Not Brides” movement, VOA’s “Breaking News” blog reports (2/9). South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the group’s chair, said India’s gross domestic product growth would be much greater if “women are given their proper place,” Reuters notes. Experts say approximately 10 million girls under the age of 18 are married worldwide every year, often to an older man, without consent and before they are mentally and physically mature, according to the news service, which adds, “The practice is most prevalent in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, despite laws in most countries banning it.”
Noting the successes of the first 10 years of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as the funding challenges it faces moving forward, Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, vice president of advocacy at Population Action International, writes in an opinion piece in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog that the Fund “has always upheld the idea that their work contributes to achievement of all of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” and “always accepted and considered proposals that include reproductive, maternal, and child health interventions, when countries could demonstrate that they would have an impact on AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.”
Experts Discuss Benefits Of Combining Deworming, School Feeding Programs At Meeting With U.K. Parliament
This post in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog reports on an event held on Wednesday in London during which John Kufuor, former president of Ghana and winner of the 2011 World Food Prize, addressed the U.K. Parliament “about how school feeding programs can help millions of people currently living in poverty.” According to the blog, “In coordination with [the Partnership for Child Development (PCD)] and Deworm the World, the Global Network shared information at the event about combining deworming efforts with school feeding programs in order to strengthen agriculture, health and education programs,” noting, “Parasitic worm infections often undermine existing school feeding programs by causing malnutrition and anemia even in children who are well-fed” (2/9).
“Mozambique’s legislature is expected to pass a bill to legalize abortions in March in an effort to reduce the country’s high rate of unsafe … abortions,” the Christian Science Monitor reports, noting under current law, abortion remains illegal in the country under any circumstances. The bill “would revise the country’s … abortion law and legalize voluntary abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy,” making Mozambique “the ninth African country to liberalize its abortion policy in the last decade,” according to the newspaper.
“Malaria is killing more people worldwide than previously thought, but the number of deaths has fallen rapidly as efforts to combat the disease have ramped up, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington” published in the Lancet on Thursday, an IHME press release reports. “More than 1.2 million people died from malaria worldwide in 2010, nearly twice the number found in the most recent comprehensive study of the disease,” the press release states (2/2). The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “used new data and new computer modeling to build a historical database for malaria between 1980 and 2010,” BBC News notes (Bowdler, 2/2).
An Indian girl between the ages of one and five years old is 75 percent more likely to die than an Indian boy, giving the country the worst gender differential in child mortality in the world, according to new data released by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Times of India reports. The “data for 150 countries over 40 years show that India and China are the only two countries in the world where female infant mortality is higher than male infant mortality in the 2000s,” the newspaper writes (Shrinivasan, 2/1). In India, for every 100 deaths among females one to five years old, 56 males of the same age group die, whereas the global average is 111 male child deaths to every 100 female children, India Today notes. “Higher mortality among girls is a powerful warning that differential treatment or access to resources is putting girls at a disadvantage,” the report said, according to the news service (2/1).
In this Global Health and Diplomacy opinion piece, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete examines efforts to meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on maternal and child mortality in Africa, noting, “Although Africa has just 12 percent of the global population, it accounts for half of all maternal deaths and half the deaths of children under five.” He writes, “Though global maternal deaths are in decline and women’s health has at last become a global priority, our goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent in 2015 is still a long way off. … It is unacceptable to allow mothers and children to die when we have the knowledge and resources to save them.”
“Poor-quality emergency immunization campaigns and low routine polio immunization coverage are helping the polio virus to spread in Chad, with 132 cases reported in 2011 — five times the number in 2010,” IRIN reports. “More commitment is needed across the board, especially from local health authorities, to try to get immunizations right, say aid agencies,” the news service adds.