Women's Health

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U.S. Government Pledges Funding For Maternal Mortality Programs In Zambia, GHI Executive Director Says

“The [U.S.] government has said it is hopeful that Zambia will be able to reduce maternal and child mortality, and has pledged to contribute” millions in funding to programs to help further that goal, the Times of Zambia reports. “Speaking during a meeting between U.S. government officials and the media, Global Health Initiative (GHI) Executive Director Lois Quam pledged her government’s commitment to partnering with the Zambian government in order to address major health concerns in the country,” the newspaper adds.

Vodacom Tanzania, Local NGO Use Mobile Phone Banking To Help Women With Obstetric Fistula

The Guardian examines a text messaging program in Tanzania initiated by Vodacom Tanzania and local NGO Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) that utilizes Africa’s mobile phone banking system, M-Pesa, to provide women suffering from obstetric fistula, caused by difficult childbirth, with the funds necessary to travel to health facilities for treatment. “CCRBT and Vodacom have now appointed a team of 60 ‘ambassadors’ to travel around the country diagnosing women with the condition. Within an hour of an ambassador finding a patient a date is set for surgery and money for transport is texted to the ambassador, who takes the patient to the bus stop,” according to the Guardian.

Use Of Injectable Hormone Contraceptive May Double Risk Of Contracting, Transmitting HIV, Study Shows

“The most popular contraceptive for women in eastern and southern Africa, a hormone shot given every three months, appears to double the risk the women will become infected with HIV,” according to a study involving 3,800 sero-discordant couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the New York Times reports. The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and published Monday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, also found that when the contraceptive was “used by HIV-positive women, their male partners are twice as likely to become infected than if the women had used no contraception,” the newspaper writes. In addition, the study “found that oral contraceptives appeared to increase risk of HIV infection and transmission, but the number of pill users in the study was too small to be considered statistically significant, the authors said,” according to the New York Times.

Council On Foreign Relations Examines Maternal Health In Afghanistan

Isobel Coleman, senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and director of the Civil Society, Markets and Democracy Initiative at the Council On Foreign Relations, reports on the council’s website on maternal health in Afghanistan, writing that “one out of 11 Afghan women is likely to die in childbirth during her…

IPS Examines The Practice Of Breast Ironing In Cameroon

Inter Press Service reports on the practice of breast ironing in Cameroon, a custom carried out by one-quarter of mothers in the country that is meant to reverse female sexual development in an effort “to avoid sexual contact between young girls and boys.” The news service writes, “An estimated one in four girls suffers from the practice in their childhood. Breast ironing is a traditional ritual in which, by using heated and flat objects, a girl’s growing breasts are pressed in order to suppress and reverse their development.”

Abortions In Africa Increased During 'Global Gag Rule,' Stanford University Study Shows

“In the first study to examine” the effects of a U.S. policy prohibiting foreign aid from going to any organization that performs abortions or provides information about or referral for the procedure as a method of family planning (often called the “Global Gag Rule” or “Mexico City Policy”), Stanford researchers Eran Bendavid and Grant Miller found that “the number of abortions increased in African countries where U.S. support for NGOs was cut the most,” according to a Stanford University news release (Gorlick, 9/28).

China's Family Planning Policy, Lack Of Sex Education To Blame For Rise In Abortions Among Single Women

In this Washington Times opinion piece, Chai Ling, president of the non-profit group All Girls Allowed and author of “A Heart for Freedom,” examines the issue of abortions performed on single women in China in relation to the country’s family planning policy, which in most provinces requires couples to be married to obtain a birth permit, without which they are not permitted to have a child. She writes, “Though the problem of skyrocketing abortion rates among single Chinese women has been highlighted by the media and attributed to a lack of sex education, no one has connected the problem to this tragic equation: no marriage certificate, no birth permit. No birth permit, no baby. Millions of unmarried women in China get pregnant, but none is allowed to give birth to her baby.”

Uganda Cannot Achieve Development Without Increased Investment In Maternal Health

In this Daily Monitor opinion piece, Anthony Masake of the Uganda Law Society stresses the importance of addressing maternal mortality in Uganda and asserts that the country cannot achieve development without increased efforts to meet national maternal health targets. He places emphasis on the need to invest in midwifery and nursing services, among other strategies, writing, “Within the context of inadequate financial resources, mounting health demands, escalating health care costs, rising population, and heightened public expectations, midwifery and nursing services present a platform from which we can scale-up health interventions to assist in meeting national health targets.”

NGOs, Government Face Challenges In Preventing Fistula In DRC

Inter Press Service examines the challenges that non-governmental organizations and the government face in trying to prevent fistula among women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where an estimated 12,000 cases are recorded annually because of sexual violence, early marriage and complications in childbirth, according to the Ministry of Public Health. Poverty, early pregnancy and marriage, sexual violence, and a lack of education and knowledge about the condition contribute to its prevalence, IPS reports (Chaco, 9/27).

Microbicide Trials Network Stops Tenofovir Arm Of Study After Findings Show Drug Less Effective Than Anticipated

“The Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), which is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, [on Wednesday] announced that it decided to stop one arm of a study involving more than 5,000 women in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Uganda” after “an interim review of the ongoing trial by an independent monitoring board … found that the drug tenofovir when used as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) had less effect in protecting women than anticipated,” Science Magazine’s “Science Insider” blog reports. “Although the board did not offer any specifics on how many women became infected on the drug versus placebo, they said continuing with the tenofovir arm was ‘futile’ as it would not yield meaningful results,” the blog writes.

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