Time examines the issue of maternal mortality in Afghanistan, where the Health Ministry says “about 18,000 Afghan women die during childbirth every year.” The magazine writes, “According to a recent report by the NGO Save the Children, Afghanistan ranked as the worst place to give birth, followed by Niger and Chad,” Time writes, adding that getting women in rural areas to hospitals, a lack of midwives and a stigma against pregnancy “because it’s a public acknowledgement of sex with their spouses” are all challenges to improving maternal health in Afghanistan. The magazine highlights the HHS-funded Afghan Safe Birth Project, which has “has helped reduce deaths during [caesarean] sections at [Kabul's Rabia Balkhi Hospital] by 80 percent” since 2008, according to Faizullah Kakar, an epidemiologist and special adviser on health to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Time reports. “[I]n April, the U.S. government cut the program’s $5.8 million annual funding, and Kakar says the Afghan government doesn’t have the money to keep it going,” the magazine notes (Kakissis, 10/11).
In this Washington Times Communities column, Anwaar Abdalla, a lecturer on Civilization and Cultural Affairs at Egypt’s Helwan University, writes, “While breast cancer is a global issue, in Egypt, the figure for people suffering from breast cancer is alarming,” adding, “According to official statistics of the National Cancer Institute (Cairo University), breast cancer accounts for 35.1 percent of the cases of cancer in Egypt.”
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Food Program and Engender Health have partnered with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health in “a campaign to treat and end obstetric fistula in women in Rwanda,” the New Times/AllAfrica.com reports. Through the campaign, “at least 50 women are expected to be treated by Issa Labou, a urologist from Senegal, assisted by a team of Rwandan physicians during an exercise to be held at Kibogora Hospital, Nyamasheke District, Western Province from 10-21 October 2011,” according to Anicet Nzabonimpa, the family planning and HIV integration coordinator in Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, the newspaper writes. “We commit to supporting government’s efforts to fully integrate services that are permanent for on-going, continuous and holistic care of obstetric fistula cases until we entirely end this preventable and treatable condition,’ she said,” according to the New Times (10/9).
Inter Press Service examines the issue of gender-based violence (GBV) against women as they make the journey from their homes in Somalia to Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp in search of food aid and refuge, calling it a “hidden side” of the famine crisis in the Horn of Africa. “So far, only 30 cases of rape were reported between January and July 2011 according to the UNHCR at Dadaab,” IPS writes, adding, “But medical experts at the camp say that this is a small fraction of a huge problem faced by women” because many do not report instances of rape out of fear they will be blamed by family members and rejected from the community (Esipisu, 10/5).
The Republican-led House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would prohibit the U.S. government from providing funding to the U.N. Population Fund, an organization “that helps women and children in developing countries with reproductive health and family planning,” Agence France-Presse reports (Cassata, 10/5). “House Republicans say they are pushing the legislation because the fund, known as the UNFPA, is complicit in China’s controversial one-child policy, which enforces abortion and sterilization,” the Huffington Post writes (10/5).
U.S. Government Pledges Funding For Maternal Mortality Programs In Zambia, GHI Executive Director Says
“The [U.S.] government has said it is hopeful that Zambia will be able to reduce maternal and child mortality, and has pledged to contribute” millions in funding to programs to help further that goal, the Times of Zambia reports. “Speaking during a meeting between U.S. government officials and the media, Global Health Initiative (GHI) Executive Director Lois Quam pledged her government’s commitment to partnering with the Zambian government in order to address major health concerns in the country,” the newspaper adds.
The Guardian examines a text messaging program in Tanzania initiated by Vodacom Tanzania and local NGO Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) that utilizes Africa’s mobile phone banking system, M-Pesa, to provide women suffering from obstetric fistula, caused by difficult childbirth, with the funds necessary to travel to health facilities for treatment. “CCRBT and Vodacom have now appointed a team of 60 ‘ambassadors’ to travel around the country diagnosing women with the condition. Within an hour of an ambassador finding a patient a date is set for surgery and money for transport is texted to the ambassador, who takes the patient to the bus stop,” according to the Guardian.
Use Of Injectable Hormone Contraceptive May Double Risk Of Contracting, Transmitting HIV, Study Shows
“The most popular contraceptive for women in eastern and southern Africa, a hormone shot given every three months, appears to double the risk the women will become infected with HIV,” according to a study involving 3,800 sero-discordant couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the New York Times reports. The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and published Monday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, also found that when the contraceptive was “used by HIV-positive women, their male partners are twice as likely to become infected than if the women had used no contraception,” the newspaper writes. In addition, the study “found that oral contraceptives appeared to increase risk of HIV infection and transmission, but the number of pill users in the study was too small to be considered statistically significant, the authors said,” according to the New York Times.
Isobel Coleman, senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and director of the Civil Society, Markets and Democracy Initiative at the Council On Foreign Relations, reports on the council’s website on maternal health in Afghanistan, writing that “one out of 11 Afghan women is likely to die in childbirth during her…
Inter Press Service reports on the practice of breast ironing in Cameroon, a custom carried out by one-quarter of mothers in the country that is meant to reverse female sexual development in an effort “to avoid sexual contact between young girls and boys.” The news service writes, “An estimated one in four girls suffers from the practice in their childhood. Breast ironing is a traditional ritual in which, by using heated and flat objects, a girl’s growing breasts are pressed in order to suppress and reverse their development.”