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Gender Inequality Must Be Addressed To ‘Get To Zero’ In AIDS Epidemic

“What does it take to get to zero? While reflecting on the theme of this past World AIDS Day (Getting to zero, Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, Zero deaths), I asked myself this question,” Lisa MacDonald, project manager at HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, writes in a Huffington Post Canada opinion piece. “The truth is that it takes a combined effort across multiple sectors, using multiple strategies and targeting multiple audiences,” she states. However, “one issue that cuts across all sectors is that of gender inequity and its role in shaping sexual relations and in determining life choices,” she continues.

Aidspan Publishes New Issue Of ‘Global Fund Observer’

Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Friday published Issue 206 of its “Global Fund Observer.” Among other articles, the issue features an article on an Aidspan analysis of pledges and contributions to the Global Fund; an article examining a Global Fund Board decision to request the Indian government provide more funding for antiretroviral treatment as a condition of grant renewal; and a commentary on gender transformative programs and the Global Fund (12/7).

BBC News Examines HIV Microbicide Research

BBC News examines ongoing efforts to develop a female-controlled microbicide to prevent HIV infection. But so far, “efforts … have presented a great deal of frustration in the fight against this global epidemic,” the news service writes, detailing the history of some failed experiments. “According to the Microbicide Trials Network, there are currently nine different microbicide products in clinical trials,” BBC notes. Angela Obasi of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said, “In many parts of the world — especially in the parts of the world where HIV is most prevalent — there are gender status issues that make it very tricky for a woman to control the circumstances under which she is exposed to HIV. … So methods that are controlled by women give them a critically important power over the safety of their own bodies,” according to the news service (Gill, 12/8).

IRIN Examines Efforts To Ban, Reduce Incidence Of FGM/C In Sierra Leone

“Campaigns to lower the rate of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Sierra Leone are having some impact, but efforts to ban the practice have failed thus far, and despite a push to communicate its health risks, many still believe FGM/C promotes good health and hygiene,” IRIN reports in an article examining political efforts to ban or discourage the practice. In October 2012, eight of the country’s 14 districts signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) criminalizing FGM/C among children, but “[w]hile the new government hails the MOU as a milestone achievement, critics argue that it has not achieved much,” according to the news service, which also examines the impact of health education campaigns. “‘The issue of FGM/C is sensitive. If those advocating against FGM/C win, we will join them later. But if they lose, we will support our people. We cannot afford to lose our ballots because of putting a ban on FGM/C of the girl child,’ said a leading politician from the ruling All People’s Congress party,” IRIN writes (12/17).

Lancet Examines Indonesia’s Efforts To Reduce Maternal Mortality

The Lancet examines Indonesia’s efforts to reduce maternal mortality, one of the Millennium Development Goals President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has identified as a national priority. Indonesia’s risk of maternal death is one in 150, compared with one in 4,000 in developed nations, and the government has set a goal of reducing mortality to 102 for every 100,000 live births by 2015, one-quarter of the rate in 1990, according to the journal. Gita Maya Koemara Sakti, recently appointed as director of maternal health, explained the Ministry of Health “has adopted a four-step plan that starts with bolstered family planning campaigns,” the Lancet writes. Other efforts include providing free maternal health care through the national social assistance system, improving the national midwifery program, and providing more funding to rural health clinics, the journal notes. The Lancet includes quotes from other government officials and non-governmental organization representatives regarding these efforts and the challenges faced (Webster, 12/8).

Efforts To Prevent, Treat Cervical Cancer Increasing In Africa

The Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” examines efforts to prevent and treat cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa, where “cervical cancer kills large numbers of women, many of whom are never diagnosed because local hospitals do not recognize the disease until it is too late.” However, “[a] very simple and cheap form of screening has begun to be introduced — and now there is the possibility of a vaccination program against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes most cervical cancers,” the blog writes, noting a recent announcement by the GAVI Alliance that it plans to fund HPV immunization programs in several countries. According to the blog, “15 countries [are] asking to be considered,” and “Uganda and Rwanda have already been approved, although some ‘clarifications’ are required from the governments on how their programs will run.” The blog continues, “No one believes it will be easy to introduce the HPV vaccination in Africa, and there may be problems,” including issues with efficacy and cost (Boseley, 12/14).

Opinions: Kangaroo Care; NTDs, Women’s Health

Kangaroo Care Could Help Mothers In Poor Settings To Save Their Babies New York Times contributing writer Tina Rosen, on the newspaper’s “Opinionator” blog, examines the success of a system known as kangaroo care, which has helped to improve the survival rates of premature infants by using skin-to-skin contact with…

Also In Global Health News: Clinical Trial Participants Abroad; PMTCT Project In Malawi; Congo Polio Outbreak; Global Fund Zambia Grant; Women, Girls In Afghanistan

Lancet World Report Examines Protections In Place For Clinical Trial Participants Abroad Lancet World Report, in a follow-up on the revelations over the U.S.’s role in medical experiments conducted on Guatemalan prisoners in the 1940s writes: “A thorough review of the safeguards in place to protect modern human trial participants…

Recent Releases In Global Health

‘Complacency Is Dangerous’ In Global HIV/AIDS Fight: A Lancet Editorial is critical of UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe’s statement in the annual UNAIDS report that “We have halted and begun to reverse the epidemic.” The editorial states, “These words, from the head of a U.N. agency, are reckless and premature, and…

U.N. Says PMTCT Of HIV Is Achievable, Efforts Must Target Millions Currently ‘Falling Through The Cracks’

“A generation of babies could be born free of AIDS if the international community stepped up efforts to provide universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and social protection, the United Nations said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. The declaration came on the eve of World AIDS Day, as U.N. leaders released a new report (.pdf), which found “millions of women and children, particularly in poor countries, fall through the cracks of HIV services either due to their gender, social or economic status, location or education,” according to the news service (Kelland, 11/30).