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Less Expensive ARV Combination Just As Effective For Women In Developing Countries As Costlier ARVs, Study Shows

A new study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston shows that the less-expensive antiretroviral nevirapine, when used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), is as effective as a more expensive combination among women in developing countries, VOA News reports. While the nevirapine-containing combination was not as effective as some ARV combinations available in the U.S., “about 83 percent of women were able to suppress their virus and stay alive and well after starting the nevirapine-based regimen,” according to lead author Shahin Lockman, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, who looked at the combinations among 500 African women with late-stage HIV infection, according to the news service.

Large-Scale Trial Of Vaginal Ring That Releases Anti-HIV Drug Announced At Health Summit In London

“This week, at the Pacific Health Summit in London, the final large-scale trial was officially launched of a vaginal ring which women can wear and forget about — at least for a month at a time — while it releases an HIV virus-killing drug called dapivirine,” the Guardian reports. “If successful, it could also be combined with hormonal contraception,” the newspaper notes. The phase III clinical trial, “launched by the International Partnership for Microbicides, is already recruiting women in South Africa, Rwanda and Malawi” and “will involve 1,650 women — enough to prove definitively whether it works,” according to the newspaper (Boseley, 6/13).

Ugandan Civil Organizations Ask Supreme Court To Declare Death During Childbirth Violates Women's Rights

In an effort to lower the maternal mortality rate in Uganda, activists from more than 50 civil service organizations on Tuesday asked the country’s Supreme Court “to declare that women’s rights are violated when they die in childbirth,” which could help make the government put more resources toward maternal health care and lower the rate of maternal deaths, currently about 100 per week, the Associated Press/Fox News reports. “All we want is a declaration that when women die during childbirth it is a violation of their rights,” Noor Musisi of the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development in Kampala said, according to the news agency.

Cervical Cancer Vaccine, Increased Awareness Could Help Lower Disease Rate In Kenya

AllAfrica.com/Guardian examine efforts to prevent and treat cervical cancer among women in Kenya, where an estimated 3,400 women die of the disease each year and only five percent receive screening. “Kenya’s national reproductive health strategic plan has addressed cervical cancer largely through the roll-out of a low-cost screening tool known as VIA (visual inspection of the cervix using ascetic acid),” but experts agree that more widespread use of cervical cancer vaccines and public education campaigns about the disease would be more effective at preventing and catching cases earlier, the news service reports. “Once the public owns this problem and pushes for it, … then the government would be forced to implement [a vaccine] strategy in full,” Lucy Muchiri, a pathologist specializing in cervical cancer at Kenyatta National Hospital and the University of Nairobi, said, the news service notes (Njoroge, 6/12).

Countdown To 2015 Initiative Releases Report Detailing Progress On Maternal, Newborn, Child Health

“Progress on maternal, newborn and child health, in the 75 highest-burden countries, most in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where more than 95 percent of all maternal and child deaths occur, has been laid out in a new 220-page report, ‘Building a Future for Women and Children,’ which is published by the Countdown to 2015 initiative,” a Countdown to 2015 press release reports. “Since 1990, annual maternal deaths have declined by almost one half and the deaths of young children have declined from 12 million to 7.6 million in 2010,” the press release states. It details a number of the key findings from the report and notes that the report’s release “coincides with a two-day [Child Survival Call to Action] forum to chart a course toward the end of preventable child deaths, taking place June 14-15 in Washington, D.C.” (6/13).

Learning From Successful Women's Health Initiatives In India

“With almost 200 million people living in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, a state more populous than the entire country of Brazil, the sheer breadth of exciting, new ways to improve maternal and child health is enormous,” Gary Darmstadt, head of the Family Health Division of the foundation, and Wendy Prosser, a research analyst with the division, write in this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. They conclude, “Our partners in Uttar Pradesh are asking for inventive ways to share knowledge to scale successful interventions which have a positive, lasting impact on women’s and children’s health. And we’re working to address this need, given the tremendous potential to increase our collective ability for impact when it comes to maternal, newborn, and child health in India — and to disseminate this learning from India for benefit throughout the world” (6/7).

Political Will, Health Concerns, Increased Funding Driving Family Planning In Africa, Report Says

The Nairobi-based African Institute for Development Policy on Tuesday presented a report called “Africa on the Move!” at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, VOA News reports, noting the report “says that in some African countries, political will, maternal and child health concerns as well as more and more funding are helping to develop effective family planning.” According to VOA, “Steve McDonald, the host of the event and Africa director at the Wilson Center, said partnerships between governments and religious organizations, which sometimes provide the bulk of health services in remote areas, are also crucial.”

U.N. Women Becomes 11th Member Of UNAIDS Partnership

“The U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (U.N. Women) [on Tuesday] became the 11th member of the Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), a partnership that focuses on achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support,” the U.N. News Centre reports, adding, “UNAIDS and U.N.…

'Saving Mothers' Initiative 'First Concrete Expression' Of How GHI Can Change The Way The U.S. Operates In Global Health Arena

In this post in the Global Post’s “Global Pulse” blog, Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the Global Health Policy Center of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), reports on the “Saving Mothers, Giving Life” initiative, launched by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday. She describes the project as “an ambitious, dynamic effort by the U.S. government to increase efficiency, spur innovation, and ensure impact in a fundamental area of global health” and writes, “If successful, ‘Saving Mothers’ will be an important dimension of Clinton’s legacy as Secretary, lifting the lives of women, families, and communities around the world.”

U.S., Norway Announce New Public-Private Initiative To Improve Maternal Health In Developing Countries

Speaking at a health conference in Norway on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. would provide $75 million toward a new public-private effort, dubbed “Saving Mothers, Giving Life,” which aims “to improve the health of mothers and their babies in developing countries,” Agence France-Presse reports (Mannion, 6/2). “At the same conference, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr said Norway would devote up to about $80 million to the effort, whose partners include drug maker Merck & Co. and nonprofit Every Mother Counts,” Reuters writes (Mohammed, 6/1). “Starting in Uganda and Zambia, [the initiative] is focusing on helping mothers during labor, delivery, and during the first 24 hours after a birth, when two of every three maternal deaths occur and 45 percent of newborn deaths occur,” VOA News reports (Stearns, 6/1).