Family Planning & Reproductive Health

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Blueprint For AIDS-Free Generation Must Allow HIV Funds To Be Used For Family Planning

In the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, notes that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the XIX International AIDS Conference in July that all women should be able to decide “when and whether to have children” and that PEPFAR, in a guidance [.pdf] released last week, said, “Voluntary family planning should be part of comprehensive quality care for persons living with HIV,” and referred to family planning as a human right. “Then, in bold type, they punctuated it with, ‘PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities,'” she writes. “They take it a step further with a caveat that before anyone decides they’d like their program to have anything to do with family planning, they had best consult relevant U.S. legal counsel first,” she adds. “To be fair, they do say that PEPFAR programs can just refer women to a different program that offers family planning,” but those programs are not always available, Sippel writes, adding, “So the suggestion is flawed from the start.”

Next U.S. President Will Impact Women's Reproductive Rights Globally

“During the first presidential debate, neither President [Barack] Obama nor [Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt] Romney addressed the issue that affects half the world’s population: women’s reproductive rights,” Musimbi Kanyoro, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog. “As the two square off on foreign policy, women’s reproductive rights must be addressed because whomever becomes president will not only determine U.S. women’s personal, economic and educational choices, but also those of women worldwide,” she writes, adding, “The candidates’ positions on women’s reproductive rights couldn’t be starker.”

Recent Releases In Global Health

Kaiser Family Foundation Looks At Views On The U.S. Role In Global Health As a follow-up to a survey conducted in May 2009, this poll examines Americans’ attitudes toward U.S. global health investments and priorities. Some key findings include: the majority of Americans support maintaining (32%) or increasing (34%) spending on…

Family Planning Summit Next Month 'Could Mark Turning Point For Maternal Health'

In this post in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin discusses a family planning summit to be held in London next month, writing the UNFPA “is supporting the initiative so that it can gain traction and support among other donors and UN member countries.” He writes, “More than 200 million women, largely in the least developed countries, want to use modern family planning methods but can’t access them,” and continues, “Enabling women to control the number and spacing of their children is essential to reducing maternal deaths.” The summit, co-hosted by the U.K. government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “will be launched to meet this unfilled need for modern family planning in developing countries by tackling the estimated $3.6 billion (£2.3 billion) annual shortfall in investment (.pdf),” he adds.

Can London Summit Broaden Discussion Of Family Planning To Include Needs Of Young Women?

“I find [a new report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Save the Children] particularly interesting because it broadens the debate” over family planning by discussing not only the logistics of providing modern contraceptives to women in need, but “the young women, sometimes no more than children themselves, who risk their lives and those of their babies if they become pregnant inside or outside of marriage,” Guardian health editor Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog.” She notes that the report says complications from pregnancy are the leading killer of women ages 15 to 19 and infants born to women under 20 are at a much greater risk of dying before their first birthday than those born to older women. Boseley writes, “The low status of girls and their power to make decisions over their own bodies is fundamental,” and family planning and education can help empower women.

Family Planning Summit Should Address Range Of Influences On Maternal Health

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).

GlobalPost Examines Women's Health In Myanmar Amid Country's Recent Political Reform

“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.”

London Summit On Family Planning Poised To Provide 'Staggering' Results

The “groundbreaking” London Summit on Family Planning, scheduled for July 11, “aims to provide an additional 120 million women … lifesaving contraceptives, information, and services by 2020,” Gary Darmstadt, who heads the Family Health Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. If that goal is reached, the health and economic benefits would be “staggering,” he says, laying out the five guiding principles to the world’s “collective efforts to revitalize family planning.” Those principles include improving “political commitment, funding, and collaboration”; promoting equal rights among women and girls; strengthening voluntary family planning programs under existing infrastructure; and holding stakeholders accountable, he writes, and concludes, “The time to come together is now. The global community has the chance to achieve transformational results that will save millions of lives” (6/28).

Reproductive Health, Family Planning Have Central Role In Comprehensive Rio+20 Strategy

“As members of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, we call on the negotiators at the Rio+20 conference to ensure that reproductive health and voluntary family planning have a central role in any comprehensive strategy for sustainable development,” Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil; Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice; Joy Phumaphi, former minister of health for Botswana and former vice-president of human development at the World Bank; Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and former director-general of the World Health Organization; Fred Sai, former president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and former director of Population at the World Bank; and Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, former deputy president of South Africa; and Jenny Shipley, former prime minister of New Zealand and vice-president of the Club of Madrid, write in a letter published in the Guardian on Friday.

Healthy Timing, Spacing Of Pregnancy Essential In Family Planning

“USAID promotes Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy as a vital family planning intervention that helps ensure that pregnancies occur at the healthiest times in a woman’s life,” Maureen Norton, healthy timing and spacing technical adviser for USAID, writes in USAID’s IMPACTblog. “A USAID analysis found that, by preventing closely spaced births, family planning could save the lives of more than 1.6 million children under five annually,” she notes. Norton outlines “three key programmatic actions to strengthen family planning as an essential intervention for child survival,” including educating families on pregnancy timing, expanding the type of available contraceptives, and enacting “policies to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend.” She concludes, “Increasing access to family planning is essential to help women … and their children survive and stay healthy” (6/19).

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