Women living with HIV in Swaziland “fight a tireless tripartite battle against HIV, the stigma it places on them, and their inferior status in Africa’s last absolute monarchy,” freelance journalist Gary Nunn writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” Nunn recounts the story of Siphiwe Hlophe, who founded Swaziland for Positive Living (Swapol) in 2001, and writes, “Women operate at grassroots level in tackling HIV because they’re rarely trusted with real responsibility. But they are increasingly making their voices heard.”
“Instead of worrying about sheer numbers when the world’s population hits seven billion next week, we should think about how to make the planet a better place for people to live in, the United Nations said” in its report, “The State of World Population 2011,” released Wednesday, Reuters reports (Ormsby, 10/26). “The world must seize the opportunity to invest in the health and education of its youth to reap the full benefits of future economic development or else face a continuation of the sorry state of disparities in which hundreds of millions of people in developing nations lack the most basic ingredients for a decent life, U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said in the foreword of the study,” the U.N. News Centre writes.
The Ministry of Health of South Sudan and UNFPA, working through the Capacity Placement of International United Nations Volunteer Midwives Project, has deployed 18 midwives throughout South Sudan since December 2010, when the program began, the Sudan Tribune reports. South Sudan, where 2,054 per 100,000 women die during labor, according to figures from the health ministry, has fewer than 100 midwives for a population of more than eight million people, Minister of Health Michael Milli Hussein said, the newspaper notes. Midwives and others involved in the project are meeting in Juba this week to discuss progress and goals, the Tribune writes (10/25).
The Center for Reproductive Rights has released its online World’s Abortion Laws map for 2011. The center has produced the map since 1998 “to visually compare the legal status of induced abortion in different countries — and to advocate for greater progress in ensuring access to safe and legal abortion services…
Al Jazeera examines maternal mortality in Afghanistan, which “remains one of the worst places to be a mother,” 10 years after the beginning of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and “[d]espite billions of dollars in aid and considerable progress.” In an accompanying video, the news service reports, “One in five children born in Afghanistan dies by the age of five, and the statistics for mothers aren’t good either.”
The Guardian examines China’s one-child policy and its impact. The newspaper writes that “the description of the system as a ‘one-child policy’ is misleading. Most married women in China have the chance to bear two offspring, but the entitlement to breed beyond a solitary child is determined by a complex set of rules” and factors. In fact, the policy’s “countless adjustments over the past 30 years have created a mind-bogglingly complex system that touches on everything from contraception and sterilization to pensions and tax incentives,” according to the Guardian. The newspaper notes that “across all of China, the government claims there would be more than 300 million more children without the family planning policy” and that “the nation’s population is forecast to peak around 2030,” leading “many [to] say the family planning policy had outlived its usefulness.” It also describes the policy’s effects in Henan Province, which “claims some of the greatest successes in taming demographic growth through its family planning policies” (Watts 10/25).
Several opinion pieces respond to a report (.pdf) presented on Monday to the U.N. General Assembly by Arnand Grover, U.N. special rapporteur for the Right to Health, that “considers the impact of criminal and other legal restrictions on abortion; conduct during pregnancy; contraception and family planning; and the provision of sexual and reproductive education and information,” according to the report summary. The report also states, “Realization of the right to health requires the removal of barriers that interfere with individual decision-making on health-related issues and with access to health services, education and information, in particular on health conditions that only affect women and girls. In cases where a barrier is created by a criminal law or other legal restriction, it is the obligation of the State to remove it” (8/3).
In this post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Amanda Makulec, a monitoring and evaluation associate with John Snow Inc., discusses “the Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal, and Newborn Health, which was born over a year ago to support progress towards MDGs four and five in 10 priority countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia,…
In his BBC News column, medical correspondent Fergus Walsh examines maternal health, fertility, myths surrounding contraception, and gender equality in Zambia, which “has one of the world’s fastest growing populations.” With the nation’s population expected to triple to 39 million people by 2050 and reach 100 million by 2100, “[t]he potential problem for Zambia is that the population increase is so rapid that the government may struggle to keep pace. Those under 16 need education, healthcare and homes but they are not yet contributing to the economy. Zambia can barely feed 13 million people so how will it cope in the future?” Walsh writes (10/24).
Data from lab experiments published online by the journal Cell Host and Microbes last week show that the gel form of the antiretroviral tenofovir, which is being investigated as an HIV prevention method, works to inhibit the reproduction of herpes virus in tonsil and cervical tissue, the New York Times reports.