“Tens of thousands of women in Haiti have severely limited access to reproductive and maternal healthcare, many are compelled to trade sex for food and most are vulnerable to rape, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C reports (8/30). The report said “[d]espite a mammoth humanitarian-care push in the wake of the Jan. 12, 2010 quake that killed as many as 300,000 people, serious gaps exist in the healthcare that women and girls are receiving,” the Los Angeles Times writes.
“Mexico plans to administer the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, to all girls beginning next year, the country’s health ministry said Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova “said while deaths from cervical cancer had fallen 47 percent in the country over the past two decades, there were still 13.4 cases for every 100,000 women last year,” AFP writes, adding, “Cervical cancer kills about 4,200 women in Mexico each year” (8/30).
In the refugee camps in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince nearly two years after a devastating earthquake, “health and human rights officials warn of another crisis: an explosion of tent babies,” the Miami Herald reports. “Haiti’s tent baby phenomenon comes as the country continues to struggle to rebuild, and as the nearly 600,000 Haitians still living in hundreds of squalid camps in quake-ravaged communities see the avalanche of medical assistance from foreign doctors and nongovernmental organizations disappear,” primarily because of a lack of funding, the newspaper writes.
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.”
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.
HIV-positive women across Africa are facing discrimination, with many “say[ing] they have been pressured â€“ even forced â€“ not to have children because people assume they will infect their babies,” PRI’s The World reports. “Across the continent, there have been organized efforts to prevent HIV-positive women from having children,” The World writes, referencing family planning programs aimed at HIV-positive women in Kenya, Namibia and Uganda.
“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.
“If the moral test for a society is the way in which it treats its most vulnerable citizens, then the release of a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) marks a sad day for South Africa,” a Lancet editorial states.
“Ten Somali children under the age of five are dying every day of hunger-related causes in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, according to the U.N. refugee agency,” the Guardian reports (Rice, 8/16). UNHCR “said high child mortality levels had been compounded by a suspected measles outbreak at the 25,000-capacity Kobe camp,” but children are now receiving vaccinations, according to BBC News (8/16).
Referring to a Maternal Health Task Force infographic depicting maternal mortality worldwide, Jen Quraishi, editorial coordinator for Mother Jones, writes in a post on Mother Jones’ “Blue Marble” blog that “there are lots of ways to juggle [maternal mortality] numbers, and ultimately I find the death rate per capita more useful than the total number of deaths â€¦ Charts like these obscure the point that the relative wealth and size of a country do have an effect on its maternal mortality, but they’re not everything.” She goes on to state, “At the end of the day, I find it disheartening that a rich country like the U.S., which prides itself on its treatment of women, has the same maternal mortality rate as a country that doesn’t let women drive (Saudi Arabia) and a worse rate than countries with a fraction of its GDP per capita” (8/15).