Women's Health

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Family Planning Spending Cuts Will Lead To ‘More Unwanted’ Pregnancies, ‘Unsafe Abortions’

“Unwanted babies and unsafe abortion are major problems in the developing world, yet funding for contraception is limited because of attitudes to sex and abortion in donor countries,” the Guardian’s Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog.” She reflects on her time spent in Dakar, Senegal, last week for the 2nd International Conference on Family Planning, and writes that, “in francophone Africa …, only 10 percent of women have access to what are called modern methods of family planning,” such as hormonal contraceptive injections or pills.

Needle-Free Anemia Test To Be Launched In February, Guardian Reports

The Guardian profiles Biosense Technologies, an Indian startup company, and its first product, the “world’s first needle-free anemia scanner,” called ToucHb, which will be launched in February. “Anemia, or abnormally low hemoglobin in the blood, affects more than half of children under five and pregnant women in the developing world, according to the [WHO],” and it is a leading cause of maternal mortality because of postpartum hemorrhage, according to the newspaper.

Bush Launches Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Project In Zambia

“Zambian President Michael Sata on Friday told former U.S. president George W. Bush that the West should help fight the scourge of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa,” Agence France-Presse reports, adding, “Bush is in Zambia on the second stop of a three-nation trip aimed at promoting efforts to fight diseases like cancer, AIDS and malaria” (12/3). While in Zambia, “Bush and his wife … launched a project … to expand the availability of cervical cancer screening, treatment and breast care education,” making the country “the first … to become part of the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon project,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times writes (12/2).

CSIS Report Examines Reaching Women, Girls Through GHI In Malawi

A new report by Janet Fleischman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, titled “The Global Health Initiative in Malawi: New Approaches and Challenges to Reaching Women and Girls,” examines the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI) in Malawi, stating, “The GHI team in Malawi has identified the health of women…

‘Simple Solutions’ Available To Improve Family Health

“Although advances in vaccines, nutrition and family health have dramatically reduced the number of child deaths in the past 50 years, nearly eight million children younger than five still die every year,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in this CNN opinion piece. She adds, “To me, this number is unacceptable, because most of these deaths could be avoided” by providing antibiotics, sterile medical supplies, or education on breastfeeding, as well by improving access to nutrient-rich foods and effective contraceptives.

Percentage Of Pregnant Women Living With HIV In South Africa Increases, Survey Suggests

The percentage of pregnant women living with HIV in South Africa “has inched up to 30.2 percent from 29.4 percent last year,” according to the annual National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence survey released by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in Pretoria on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reports (11/29). The survey “sampled over 32,000 pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in October last year,” South Africa’s Times Live notes (11/30).

Al Jazeera Examines HIV, Drug Use Among Women In Northeast India

Al Jazeera examines HIV among women in India’s Manipur state, particularly in the district of Churachandpur, where local non-governmental organizations “say more than one-quarter of the women use some kind of drugs and suffer from HIV; many, due to a lack of financial opportunities, will end up turning to” sex work to obtain money to buy drugs, the news agency writes. There are no long-term treatment facilities for people who use drugs or those living with HIV in the area, and there are no official statistics on how many women are living with HIV and using drugs, Al Jazeera reports. “The United Nations says these women can no longer be ignored,” the news agency notes. Charles Gilks of UNAIDS India said the number of affected women must be determined and then organizations need to establish “interventions which those women can easily and reliably reach,” Al Jazeera reports (Suri, 11/30).

Testing Of Vaginal Gel For HIV Prevention Halted After Interim Results Showed No Difference From Placebo

Researchers involved with a multi-armed clinical trial designed to evaluate different antiretroviral (ARV) interventions for HIV prevention on Friday announced the arm testing a vaginal gel had been stopped because it was not working, the New York Times reports. The announcement marks “a major disappointment for AIDS research” because the gel “had seemed to work surprisingly well in a previous” trial, according to the newspaper. That study, called CAPRISA, found that the vaginal gel, which contains the ARV tenofovir, reduced the risk of HIV infection by 39 percent among women overall and by 54 percent among women who used it most consistently, the newspaper notes, adding, “It was hoped that the new trial, nicknamed VOICE (for Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic), would confirm that earlier trial” (McNeil, 11/25).

Drawing Attention To Ending Gender-Based Violence

A post in the U.S. Department of State’s “DipNote” blog highlights the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, commemorated on November 25, and the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence. The blog recaps a video message from Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and writes, “In the…

IPS Examines Efforts To End Violence Against Women, Including U.N. Trust Fund And International Day

Inter Press Service profiles the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, writing, “Since it launched in 1997, [it] has distributed more than 78 million dollars to 339 projects around the world, but even these resources fall far short, meeting less than five percent of demand.” Noting that the Fund “provides services to women and girl survivors of violence, including legal aid, health care, shelter and psychosocial support,” the news service highlights a number of programs supported by the Fund through past grants and writes, “This year alone, more than 2,500 applications requesting about 1.2 billion dollars for programs across 123 countries have been received.”

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