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Focusing Attention On Population, Reproductive Health Issues

“As representatives of the World Health Organization Member States arrive in Geneva this week for the 65th World Health Assembly, I feel a cautious optimism about the future, and the future health of Africa,” Joy Phumaphi, co-chair of the Aspen Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, writes in this post in the Huffington Post Blog. “With two female heads of state in Africa — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia and Joyce Banda in Malawi — women’s health and gender equality are no longer marginalized, they have become central to a nation’s potential for development and prosperity,” she continues, adding the two leaders “share a vision and passionate resolve to improve the lives of women in Africa — and like me they are founding members of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health.”

“At the World Health Assembly this week, … I will present awards to four exceptional countries who have — against all odds — made enormous progress in making reproductive health services accessible to all of their citizens,” Phumaphi writes. “The Aspen Institute’s Global Leader’s Council for Reproductive Health Resolve Award will be awarded to Malawi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Nepal for their extraordinary efforts to increase access to family planning services, reduce maternal mortality and build health care systems that reach all their citizens,” she adds. She highlights WHO Director-General Margaret Chan’s emphasis on women’s health and health in Africa, calls Melinda Gates’ public support for family planning a “game-changer,” and concludes, “So 2012 may be the year when ‘the elephant in the room’ — population and women’s reproductive health — is talked about once again, and we move beyond ideological posturing to truly support a new future for Africa” (5/21).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.