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Misconception That Syphilis Has ‘Disappeared’ Presents Major Impediment To Preventing Infant Deaths

In this Globe and Mail opinion piece, columnist Andre Picard examines the efforts of a new group, the Global Congenital Syphilis Partnership — which includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Save The Children, the CDC, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the WHO — to “make screening for syphilis a routine part of pregnancy care with the goal of eliminating congenital syphilis.” Picard writes, “According to the World Health Organization, some 2.1 million women with syphilis give birth every year,” and notes, “Almost 70 percent of their babies are stillborn, and many of the rest suffer from low birth weight (putting them at great risk for a host of illnesses), hearing loss, vision loss and facial deformities.”

World Bank Should Re-Evaluate Programs To Reduce Maternal Mortality

“The World Bank boasts that it has positioned itself as a ‘global leader’ in reproductive health, especially for youth and the poor,” but in 2011, it dedicated “just 0.2 percent of its $43 billion budget” to reproductive health projects, and much of that money was provided as loans, which can “leave poor countries indebted and threaten to divert domestic spending away from vital public health services,” Elizabeth Arend, program coordinator at Gender Action, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” In addition, “[t]here is a striking mismatch between countries’ maternal mortality rates and the bank’s spending on reproductive health,” Arend states, citing the examples of Sierra Leone, where the lifetime average risk of dying from pregnancy or childbirth is one in 35 and the World Bank provides $7.43 per person, versus Niger, Liberia, or Somalia, where women “face an average lifetime one in 17 risk of maternal death, yet these countries receive no reproductive health funding from the bank at all.”

Congress Must Protect International Family Planning Funding

“Opponents of birth control don’t just want to limit access in the U.S., they want to slash U.S. support for international family planning programs. It’s a perennial debate, and it’s about to start all over again,” Chloe Cooney, director of global advocacy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, writes in an RH Reality Check blog post. President Obama’s FY 2013 budget “demonstrates the value the administration places on family planning,” as “funding for international family planning programs is preserved,” she writes, noting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent testimony to Congress about the budget proposal, in which “she consistently reiterated the importance of development as a key pillar of our foreign policy and national security strategy” and “the administration’s focus on women and girls as central to these goals.” Cooney concludes, “The president’s budget protects U.S. investments in family planning programs around the world. Now it’s up to Congress to make sure those funds remain intact” (3/5).

PLoS Articles Examine Connection Between Climate Change, Public Health

“Top-down advocacy on health and climate at the U.N. level needs to be mirrored by bottom-up public health actions that bring health and climate co-benefits,” public health experts from institutions in Sweden, Germany and South Africa write in an article published in PLoS Medicine on Tuesday, a PLoS press release reports. “[T]here seems…

Amending U.S. Farm Bill Could Save Money, Help Food Aid Reach Millions More

In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Kelly Hauser, agriculture policy manager at ONE, writes that an amendment to the U.S. farm bill “could save money and lives in Africa.” “The farm bill is an unwieldy five-year bill dedicated to shaping the U.S. government’s policies and spending on energy, farm subsidies, food stamps, conservation policies, and international agricultural trade, which includes the largest donor food aid program in the world, known as ‘Food for Peace,’” she writes, adding, “By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, Congress has the opportunity to make changes to the farm bill that would allow U.S. food assistance to reach six million more people with the same amount of funding.”

Recognizing The Role Of The Health Care Worker In Providing Family Planning Services

In this post in the RH Reality Check blog, Laura Hoemeke, director of communications and knowledge management at IntraHealth International, writes that it “take[s] a health worker, or more accurately millions of health workers, to meet the need that hundreds of millions of couples worldwide have for family planning,” adding, “A…

Censoring 'Dual-Use' Scientific Research Not An Effective Strategy To Mitigate Security Risks

“It’s easy to get the impression that [recent controversy over research into mutated versions of the H5N1 flu virus] has created a clear split between a scientific community that wants the research to proceed and the results to be published and a biosecurity community that doesn’t,” biological-weapons expert Tim Trevan writes in this Nature opinion piece. But “[a]s a member of this biosecurity community for more than 30 years — I was special adviser to the chairman of the United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq and covered chemical and biological disarmament with the U.K. Foreign Office in both London and Geneva, Switzerland — I believe this to be a false dichotomy,” he states.

Opinion Pieces Published In Advance Of 'Child Survival Call To Action' Event To Take Place In Washington

The following are summaries of several opinion pieces published in anticipation of the Child Survival Call to Action event to be held on June 14-15 in Washington, D.C. Convened by the governments of the United States, Ethiopia and India, and organized in close collaboration with UNICEF, the event will focus on ending preventable child death through the survival of newborns, children and mothers and will convene 700 prominent leaders from government, the private sector, faith-based organizations and civil society to kick off a long-term, focused effort to save children’s lives.

Myanmar Government Should Shift Funding Away From Military Into Health Care

Burma, also known as Myanmar, “seems to be making the difficult and fragile transition from military dictatorship to fledgling democracy,” but the country has “some of the worst health indicators in the world,” a Lancet editorial states. “[T]he military retains a strong presence in regions of ethnic tension, and health and human rights abuses are certain to continue without adequate monitoring,” it continues.

OAS Members Must Assist U.S. Efforts To Ensure Food Security In Americas

“Together with international partners, the United States has launched an unprecedented effort over the past three years to reverse a decades-long decline in agricultural investments,” with a goal of “alleviat[ing] the chronic hunger that afflicts nearly one billion people around the world, including an estimated 53 million in Latin America and the Caribbean,” a VOA editorial states. “In the Americas, Feed the Future invests in rural areas of three focus countries: Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti,” the editorial continues, noting, “Over five years, investments and programs involving the entire agricultural value chain from seeds to farms to markets will assist one million vulnerable women, children and family members, mostly smallholder farmers, to escape hunger and poverty in these countries.” The editorial states, “By working together, the United States believes [Organization of American States (OAS)] members can contribute collectively to food security at both the hemispheric and global levels. To achieve that goal, OAS members must safeguard the political and economic progress that has been made to date” (6/12).