As the international community on Monday marked the ninth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), the U.N. and international and human rights organizations called for an end to FGM/C and are appealing for tougher legislation to halt the practice that has affected up to 140 million girls and women worldwide, according to WHO statistics, VOA News reports (Schlein, 2/6). “The United States stands in consensus with women, governments, and donors around the world in a commitment to provide the energy and resources necessary to end this harmful traditional practice that violates girls’ right to bodily integrity, harms their health, and reduces their status in society,” USAID writes on its website (2/6).
AllAfrica.com examines efforts by African researchers to develop a female-controlled HIV prevention method, writing, “[S]cientists searching for a gel or vaccine that can prevent HIV infection ride a rollercoaster of hope and disappointment.” The article profiles efforts by researchers from the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (Caprisa) to find a microbicide gel to protect women from HIV infection.
“If a Republican becomes president, … say goodbye to international programs providing birth control to women in desperately poor countries such as Liberia,” senior contributing writer Michelle Goldberg writes in this Daily Beast opinion piece. Goldberg notes that birth control has become a “significant issue in the U.S. presidential campaign,” writing, “All of the Republican candidates have slammed the administration’s refusal to give religious institutions a broad exemption from the mandate that insurance cover family planning.”
Speaking at an event organized by the Every Woman Every Child initiative on Thursday, “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [called on] business leaders attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, to increase their investment in women’s education and health to ensure their well-being and encourage their participation in the world economy,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘The business community can help. Your partnership is crucial in preventing unnecessary suffering for women and girls everywhere,’ Mr. Ban said, adding that despite recent progress, much remains to be done,” the news service notes.
IRIN reports that Cote d’Ivoire is abandoning its free health care for all scheme after a period of nine months, noting, “Theft, poor management and rising costs have made the service — introduced by President Alassane Ouattara’s government at the end of civil conflict to ease a dire public health situation — unaffordable.” According to the news service, “As of February, the free service will only be available to mothers and their children,” meaning “free care for deliveries and free treatment for diseases affecting children under six years old.”
The U.S. Army news service reports on a five-day Medical Civil Action Program, or MEDCAP, in Tanzania, during which “Tanzanian medical providers working in partnership with U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa provided medical care to more than 2,100 Tanzanian women and children.” According to the news service, “The program supported the Tanzanian Health Initiative, a program that seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to health for the Tanzanian people and parallels the U.S. government’s Global Health Initiative.”
“The astounding thing about the global abortion debate is not that some people have deeply held views about what a pregnancy is and when a human existence begins” but that “policymakers continue to ignore carefully amassed information about the actual outcome of programs and laws related to sexuality and reproduction,” Marianne MÃ¸llmann, senior policy adviser with Amnesty International’s International Secretariat, writes in this Guardian opinion piece. MÃ¸llmann cites an analysis by the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute, published in the Lancet last week, which she says has two main conclusions: “first, when governments fail to provide contraception for those who want it, abortion figures stay the same; and second, where abortion is illegal, the procedure is predominantly unsafe.”
Sharon D’Agostino, vice president of worldwide corporate contributions and community relations at Johnson & Johnson, writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece about the launch of the Global Motherhood partnership between Johnson & Johnson and the Huffington Post. “The Huffington Post and Johnson & Johnson have collaborated to create this forum focused on global motherhood, a place to share ideas and experiences for improving maternal and child health,” she writes, adding, “We hope that the Global Motherhood section will give voice to the people and organizations that are making a difference and inspire others to join in this effort” (1/18).
“After a period of substantial decline, the global abortion rate has stalled, according to new research from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization (WHO)” published in the Lancet on Wednesday, a Guttmacher press release reports. “Between 1995 and 2003, the overall number of abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15-44 years) dropped from 35 to 29” but, “according to the new study, the global abortion rate in 2008 was virtually unchanged, at 28 per 1,000,” the press release states. “This plateau coincides with a slowdown, documented by the United Nations, in contraceptive uptake, which has been especially marked in developing countries,” according to the press release. “The researchers also found that nearly half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe, … almost all unsafe abortions occur in the developing world,” and “restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower rates of abortion,” the press release adds (1/18).
Noting that the “fifth Millennium Development Goal target for 90 percent of births in low- and middle-income countries to have a skilled birth attendant (SBA) by 2015 will not be met,” researchers from University College London estimate “that there will be between 130 and 180 million non-SBA births in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa from 2011 to 2015 (90 percent of these in rural areas)” in this BioMed Central Pregnancy & Childbirth article. They conclude, “Efforts to improve access to skilled attendance should be accompanied by interventions to improve the safety of non-attended deliveries” (1/17).