“Since Myanmar gained independence from the British in 1948, it has been wracked by armed conflicts and fragile ceasefires with civilians and ethnic rebels,” and “[t]he health of Myanmar’s women has been one of the biggest casualties,” GlobalPost reports. Though recent news coverage has focused on political reform in the nation, “little attention has been paid to a more immediate need: affordable, decent health care,” the news service states. The “military junta that ruled the country for a half century spent very little on health care,” little international aid has come into the country, and “the government restricts where and how aid organizations can operate, blocking the delivery of medical services,” the news service writes, adding, “The result has been a health care system that in conflict areas, does not exist, and in large cities, is too expensive for ordinary people, according to experts inside Myanmar and on the Thai border.”
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Vatican Official Calls On International Community To Provide 'Free, Efficient' HIV Treatment In Africa
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state and number two official, “called Friday on the international community to provide ‘free and efficient treatment’ for AIDS in Africa, starting with pregnant women, mothers and their babies,” Agence France-Presse reports (6/22). During a conference sponsored by the Sant’Egidio Community, which operates the DREAM program (Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition) in 10 African countries, “Bertone said the results of DREAM and research by the World Health Organization ‘confirm that universal access to care is achievable, scientifically proven and economically feasible,'” the Catholic News Service writes.
In this post on RH Reality Check, Marianne Mollmann, senior policy adviser with Amnesty International, addresses an upcoming summit in London on family planning funding, which is being co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. Department for International Development and supported by USAID and UNFPA. She says that poverty and “women’s ability to exercise her human rights, including the rights to quality health care, non-discrimination in education and health, and economic empowerment through job creation and protections for equality in the workplace,” are important drivers of maternal health and need to be addressed by governments (6/21).
Management Sciences For Health’s (MSH) “Global Health Impact” blog on Friday published two posts examining the importance of good governance in health care. In the first post, Jonathan Quick, president and chief executive officer of MSH, writes, “Good governance in health care matters at all levels of the health system — from communities to health facilities to governments,” adding, “Effective management, inspiring leadership, and accountable governance are each vital for building strong health systems that achieve lasting local health impact” (6/22). In the second post, James Rice, project director of USAID’s Leadership, Management, & Governance (LMG) project, writes, “Policymakers and health sector leaders in low- and middle-income countries are recognizing the value of smart governance for significant and sustained gains in health status outcomes,” noting, “The new USAID [LMG] project, led by MSH with a consortium of partners, is actively engaged in building the capacity and competencies of those expected to accomplish smart governance” (6/22).
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog summarizes an event held Thursday, titled “AIDS-free Generation? Not Without Women,” that was sponsored by the National Council of Women’s Organizations. The session aimed “to draw attention to pivotal issues surrounding the impact of AIDS on women worldwide” ahead of the International AIDS Conference, the blog states. Speakers at the event included Katherine Fritz, global health director at the International Center for Research on Women, and Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health And Gender Equity (CHANGE), according to the blog, which notes “CHANGE recently released two reports on the implementation of the Global Health Initiative and reproduction health care in Guatemala and Ethiopia, concluding that GHI principles could be used to enhance services and conditions in both countries” (Barton, 6/22).
“The Child Survival Call to Action that took place [recently] in Washington, D.C., was a unique opportunity for 700 stakeholders working in the government, the private sector, faith-based organizations, and civil society to come together to kick off a long-term, focused effort to save children’s lives,” Rachel Wilson, the senior director of policy and advocacy at PATH, writes in this post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog. “While the goal of the Call to Action — to decrease annual preventable childhood deaths to two million by 2035 — may seem daunting, we ought to remind ourselves that we already have many of the tools at our disposal to achieve success,” she says (6/22).
“Any new president has a vast array of items on his or her agenda, but newly inaugurated Malawian President Joyce Hilda Banda has elevated a praise-worthy agenda for maternal health at the very outset of her time in office,” Alisha Kramer, a research assistant at the Center For Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) Global Health Policy Center, writes in this post in the center’s “Smart Global Health” blog. “After former President Bingu wa Mutharika died unexpectedly from a heart attack, President Banda took office on April 7th, 2012 after a brief succession struggle,” Kramer notes, adding, “Domestic and international observers of Banda are optimistic that Banda’s vision for improved governance can reverse the downward course of her predecessor” (6/22).
“As the international community engages in a last push to decrease child deaths annually from 12 million in 1990 to four million by 2015, world leaders [met] for the ‘Child Survival — Call to Action’ Summit in Washington, D.C., [earlier this month] to set an even more ambitious goal of ‘ending all preventable child deaths’ down to two million by 2035,” Kul Chandra Gautam, former deputy executive director of UNICEF, writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog, adding, “This is a fitting moment for reflection and celebration of USAID’s 50th anniversary, and 30 years of historic contribution and leadership in what came to be known as a global Child Survival and Development Revolution (CSDR).”
“Progress in ensuring that women in poor countries have access to modern methods of contraception has stalled,” according to a new report (.pdf) by the United Nations Population Fund and the Guttmacher Institute, BMJ reports. The study “found that this year 645 million women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years) are using modern methods of contraception in the developing world, 42 million more than in 2008,” but “this rise is less than half the increase of 100 million between 2003 and 2008,” the journal writes.
U.S. Secretary Of State Clinton Defends Women's Reproductive Rights At Conclusion Of Rio+20 Conference
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “took a stand for women’s reproductive rights during the Rio+20 United Nations conference on Friday, saying ‘women must be empowered to make decisions on whether and when to have children’ if the world is to attain agreed-upon sustainable development goals,” the Associated Press/ABC News reports. Clinton “spoke during the conference’s last day, applauding the final document’s endorsement of women’s sexual and reproductive health but making it clear that she objected to the omission of specific language on reproductive rights,” the news service writes. “‘While I am very pleased that this year’s outcome document endorses sexual and reproductive health and universal access to family planning, to reach our goals in sustainable development we also have to ensure women’s reproductive rights,’ Clinton said,” according to the AP (Barbassa, 6/22).