Women's Health

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Family Planning, Contraceptives A National Priority For Saving Women's Lives, U.N. Meeting Participants Say

First ladies, health and finance ministers, and parliamentarians from 12 developing countries participating in the U.N. Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security, which was launched in 2007, declared at a U.N. meeting held on Wednesday that “voluntary family planning, secured by a steady supply of contraceptives, is a national priority for saving women’s lives,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “More than 215 million women in developing countries want to avoid or space pregnancies but are not using modern methods of contraception, according to the UNFPA,” the news service writes.

Women Struggling To Find Truly Free Health Care In Sierra Leone's System, Amnesty International Report Says

“Sierra Leone’s free health care plan for pregnant women and young children is dysfunctional and hobbled by corruption and a lack of accountability,” according to a report (.pdf) released Tuesday by Amnesty International, Agence France-Presse reports. The nation’s free health care program for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under five years old was launched in April 2010 with support from UNICEF, the World Bank, the WHO and the U.K. Department for International Development, AFP notes (9/6).

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Urges Men To Take Larger Role In HIV Prevention

“Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Monday opened a national HIV and AIDS conference with a call for the nation’s men to take a larger role in the response to the deadly pandemic, not only for their own health but that of women and children,” VOA News reports (Gumbo, 9/5). Speaking at the conference, Mugabe said, “The role of men in society is unquestionable. It is for this reason that men should take their place in the HIV response, both for their own health as well as in support of women and children … and it is not just treatment, but also a fact of discipline,” Zimbabwe’s Herald writes (9/6).

Integrating Rapid Syphilis And HIV Testing For Pregnant Women Could Reduce Maternal, Child Morbidity And Mortality

“A study conducted in Uganda and Zambia by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) found high rates of syphilis and HIV co-infection among pregnant women in both countries,” but showed that “integrating rapid syphilis screening and HIV testing for pregnant women was feasible, cost-effective, and helped to prevent transmission of syphilis and HIV from mother-to-child,” PlusNews reports.

Women In Haiti Have Limited Access To Maternal Health Care, May Trade Sex For Food, HRW Report Says

“Tens of thousands of women in Haiti have severely limited access to reproductive and maternal healthcare, many are compelled to trade sex for food and most are vulnerable to rape, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C reports (8/30). The report said “[d]espite a mammoth humanitarian-care push in the wake of the Jan. 12, 2010 quake that killed as many as 300,000 people, serious gaps exist in the healthcare that women and girls are receiving,” the Los Angeles Times writes.

Mexico To Administer HPV Vaccine To All Girls Beginning In 2012

“Mexico plans to administer the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, to all girls beginning next year, the country’s health ministry said Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova “said while deaths from cervical cancer had fallen 47 percent in the country over the past two decades, there were still 13.4 cases for every 100,000 women last year,” AFP writes, adding, “Cervical cancer kills about 4,200 women in Mexico each year” (8/30).

Many Women Give Birth In Haiti's Tent Camps Without Medical Services

In the refugee camps in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince nearly two years after a devastating earthquake, “health and human rights officials warn of another crisis: an explosion of tent babies,” the Miami Herald reports. “Haiti’s tent baby phenomenon comes as the country continues to struggle to rebuild, and as the nearly 600,000 Haitians still living in hundreds of squalid camps in quake-ravaged communities see the avalanche of medical assistance from foreign doctors and nongovernmental organizations disappear,” primarily because of a lack of funding, the newspaper writes.

Family Planning Can Improve Maternal And Child Health, Survival

Describing a maternal health program that promotes family planning in the rural village of Bweremana in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Michael Gerson writes in his Washington Post column that “[t]he very words ‘family planning’ light up the limbic centers of American politics.” But “in places such as Bweremana, family planning is undeniably pro-life,” Gerson says, noting that “[w]hen contraceptive prevalence is low, about 70 percent of all births involve serious risk. When prevalence is high, the figure is 35 percent.”

Money Alone Cannot Fix Russia's 'Demographic Crisis'

Russia “is in a demographic crisis, shedding 2.2 million people (or 1.6 percent of the population) since 2002, and the government is trying to encourage more women to bring Russian citizens into the world,” journalist Natalia Antonova writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, in which she describes her experience with the Russian medical system after “unexpectedly” becoming pregnant shortly after receiving her visa to work in Moscow.

HIV-Positive Pregnant Women Across Africa Face Discrimination

HIV-positive women across Africa are facing discrimination, with many “say[ing] they have been pressured – even forced – not to have children because people assume they will infect their babies,” PRI’s The World reports. “Across the continent, there have been organized efforts to prevent HIV-positive women from having children,” The World writes, referencing family planning programs aimed at HIV-positive women in Kenya, Namibia and Uganda.

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