“A group of 15 prominent Chinese scholars issued an open letter on Thursday calling for a rethink of [the] country’s family planning laws, arguing that the law in its present form is incompatible with China’s increasing respect for human rights and need for sustainable economic development,” according to the Wall Street Journal’s “China Real Time Report.” “‘The birth approval system built on the idea of controlling population size as emphasized in the current ‘Population and Family Planning Law’ does not accord with provisions on the protection of human rights contained in the nation’s constitution,’ the authors of Thursday’s letter wrote, adding that a rewriting of the law was ‘imperative,'” the blog adds.
Ahead of July 11, World Population Day and the date of the London Summit on Family Planning, VOA News examines family planning efforts in Uganda, where the average woman will give birth to about seven children during her lifetime. “Access to family planning is not the only problem, says [Ministry of Health official Jennifer] Wanyana, who adds that many Ugandans oppose contraception for cultural reasons or they associate family planning with promiscuity,” VOA writes, adding, “Experts say that beliefs like this might be the most difficult challenge.” The article discusses efforts by the health ministry to educate the public and provide contraceptives and health care (Heuler, 7/5).
Exclusion Of Reproductive Rights From Rio+20 Agreement 'Backslide' On Women's Rights, Former Ireland President Robinson Says
“Women’s rights are under the greatest attack for almost 20 years after a failure of world leaders to continue to support reproductive rights, according to Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland,” the Guardian reports in its series “The Politics of Family Planning.” “Robinson joined campaigners criticizing the final agreement reached between 190 countries at the Rio+20 summit,” the news service writes, adding, “The former president accused global leaders of ‘backsliding on fundamental texts’ agreed at two summits subsequently lauded for protecting women and girls: Cairo in 1994 and Beijing in 1995.”
Former President Bush In Zambia, Botswana To Promote Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Initiative To Fight Cervical Cancer
Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush are traveling in Zambia and Botswana this week to promote “the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative spearheaded by his foundation that seeks to expand cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa,” CNN reports. In Kabwe, Zambia, Bush helped “refurbish a clinic used to screen, diagnose and treat cervical cancer,” and in the capital of Lusaka, he dedicated a cancer center at a university teaching hospital and met with government and health care leaders, according to the news service. On Wednesday, Bush will launch a similar clinic in Botswana, CNN notes (7/1). While in Kabwe, Bush told journalists that concerted efforts should be made to address cervical cancer, in a way similar to how HIV/AIDS is being addressed, the Times of Zambia reports (Namaiko, 7/3).
Though Indonesia is “widely seen as a development success story — indeed, it is sometimes referred to as one of Asia’s ‘rising powers’ … in the area of maternal health, the successes have been modest and much remains to be done,” Andrew Rosser, associate director of the Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, writes in an Inside Indonesia opinion piece. “Indonesia is on track to meet many of these goals,” including those related to poverty, child nutrition and mortality, education, and tuberculosis and malaria, “[b]ut it is well off track when it comes to goals related to maternal health,” he states. The country also is “failing to meet its targets on the use of modern methods of contraception and reducing the ‘unmet need’ for family planning — that is, the proportion of couples who want to limit the number of children they have but do not have access to contraception,” Rosser notes.
The London Summit on Family Planning, co-sponsored by the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with support from UNFPA and other partners, is scheduled to take place next week. The following blog posts address the summit and the issue of family planning.
Advocates Leave Rio+20 'More Determined Than Ever' To Secure Access To Reproductive Rights For All Women
“There is a direct correlation between access to voluntary family planning, women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability,” author Diane MacEachern writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, adding, “And though the official delegates to last week’s ‘Earth Summit’ tried to water it down, thousands of grassroots activists made it one of the biggest issues to rock Rio+20, as the event was also called.” She continues, “Women took these issues to Rio because more than 200 million women in the U.S. and around the world cannot choose whether or when to have a baby, simply because they don’t have access to voluntary family planning.”
Bacterial Vaginosis Associated With Increased Risk Of HIV Transmission From Women To Men, Study Shows
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a condition characterized by a disruption in normal vaginal bacteria, is associated with a more than three-fold increased risk of HIV transmission from an infected woman with the condition to her uninfected male partner, according to a study published June 26 in PLoS Medicine, VOA News reports. Craig Cohen, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California at San Francisco and lead author of the study, said additional research into the causes of and treatments for BV, as well as exactly how the condition increases the risk of HIV transmission, needs to be conducted, according to the news service. In some areas of Africa, up to half of the female population has BV but many are unaware of their condition, VOA reports, noting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the research (De Capua, 6/29).
Philippines To Spend Nearly $12M On Contraceptives To Bolster Family Planning, Reduce Maternal Mortality Rate
The government of the Philippines plans to spend nearly $12 million on contraceptives this year in an effort to “save its ‘failed’ family planning program and drastically cut maternal deaths,” according to the Department of Health, IRIN reports. However, “[i]t is a controversial decision that even public health officials and family planning advocates admit may not be carried out by local officials wary of angering the [Catholic] Church or losing the votes of Catholic supporters,” the news service writes. In addition to purchasing and distributing condoms, intra-uterine devices (IUDs), birth control pills, and other contraceptives “on a large scale for the first time in largely underfunded community centers across the country,” health officials say the plan “is aimed at cutting maternal mortality rates, which went from just 162 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006 to 221 in 2011 — a rise [of] 35 percent — according to the government’s 2011 Family Health Survey,” IRIN notes.
As part of a monthly series of posts guest edited by FHI 360 on behalf of USAID’S Interagency Youth Working Group (IYWG), this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog by Primrose Nanchani Manyalo, a field officer at Restless Development, discusses how “adolescent pregnancy is a harsh reality that many young girls encounter.” Manyalo talks about her work with young women in Zimbabwe, and says everyone has a role to play in helping to prevent adolescent pregnancy. She concludes, “Young women need increased access to equal opportunities, education in sexual and reproductive health, youth-friendly services, social support, education, employment, and empowering life skills, so that unplanned childbearing does not hinder the achievement of their dreams at a young age” (6/29).