Opinions: Abortion In Canada’s G8 Initiative; Security Of Afghan Women; U.S. Global Development Strategy; Mother’s Day; U.S. Food Security Initiative; Polio Eradication

Abortions Are ‘One Small Chunk Of Bigger Puzzle’ For Improving Maternal, Child Health

National Post columnist Jonathan Kay examines the ongoing debate over whether Canada’s G8 child and maternal health initiative should include abortions, which according to a 2006 Oxford University Press-World Bank report, are “one small chunk of a bigger puzzle. A much larger problem, in terms of the number of female lives affected, is the decidedly less headline-grabbing subject of hemorrhages – which include antepartun hemorrhages … and primary postpartum hemorrhages. Then there is sepsis …, blood-pressure disorders associated with pregnancy and obstructed labour.” Kay continues: “On the infant side of the equation, life-threatening conditions in need of G8 attention include low birthweight, birth asphyxia and infections … statistically speaking, these are the real big-league killers.”

In comparison, Kay writes, “[U]nsafe abortion was responsible for just 3% of the total loss of human life … in the maternal and perinatal area. … Put another way, Harper’s plan would concentrate Canada’s foreign-aid resources at the service of health conditions that account for 97% of the risks befalling women and their newborn children. Only 3% would be left to other donor nations, or indigenous health services – a small price to pay, some would argue, for ensuring that the millions of pro-life Canadians in this country do not feel alienated by an aid plan that, no matter how you slice it, would save thousands of lives all across the developing world” (5/10).

U.S. Must Do More To Ensure Security Of Afghan Women

In a Foreign Policy opinion piece, Valerie Hudson of Brigham Young University and Patricia Leidl, an international communications consultant, reflect on the future of Afghan women under “moderate” Taliban leaders. Though the piece documents how the U.S. presence in Afghanistan initially created new opportunities for girls to go to school and training opportunities for women in the country, the opinion notes, “the current administration, despite its female secretary of State and its new Office of Global Women’s Issues, appears to be ditching the women of Afghanistan like a blind date gone bad. … It’s not difficult to understand why. Afghanistan is in crisis.”

Hudson and Leidl examine the impact conditions on the ground have on the women of Afghanistan, noting “[m]aternal mortality in Afghanistan still makes the world’s top three list, nine years after the U.S. invasion, resulting in a life expectancy for women of 46,” and outline several ways the U.S. could better support Afghan women, including educating leaders about gender equality. “[S]howing Afghan community leaders how gender equality – including female access to family planning methods – will result in healthier families, lower maternal and child death rates, poverty alleviation, and greater self-determination,” they write (5/10).

Put USAID In Charge Of U.S. Global Development Strategy

In a Global Post opinion piece, Nancy Birdsall and Sarah Jane Staats of the Center for Global Development, examine the ongoing battle “over who will control U.S. global development strategy” and argue that USAID needs more autonomy. Birdsall and Staats discuss why they believe that while “our three main tools of foreign policy – development, diplomacy and defense – should support one another, they have different means for achieving complementary but distinct ends,” and suggest ways for “elevating development, as Secretary [of State Hillary Rodham] Clinton has pledged to do.”

“For almost two decades, the U.S. has not only significantly under-invested in development; we have structured our development programs in ways that weaken, rather than strengthen their impact,” the authors write and then issue a call for USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah to be in charge of President Obama’s Global Health and Global Hunger and Food Security Initiatives.  They conclude with the “hope” that Clinton “will make getting development right – making it stronger and more accountable – her key legacy as secretary of state” (5/10).

Mother’s Day Should Be An Occasion To Help Mothers Around The World

In a piece marking Mother’s Day, New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof proposes the holiday be viewed not just as one that honors “a single mother, but … an occasion to try to help other mothers around the globe as well” by driving down maternal mortality and injuries during childbirth.

“Oddly, for a culture that celebrates motherhood, we’ve never been particularly interested in maternal health,” Kristof continues, before noting the statistics on maternal mortality in the U.S., and reflecting on conditions for mothers living in Africa and Asia. “There’s no silver bullet to end maternal mortality, but we know steps that have made a big difference in some countries,” he writes, noting “[b]ipartisan legislation to be introduced this year by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut aims to have the United States build on these proven methods to tackle obstetric fistulas and maternal health globally” (5/8).

Editorial Examines U.S. Hunger And Food Security Initiative

A VOA News editorial by the U.S. government reflects on the U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, a program that aims “to catalyze agricultural-led growth by raising the incomes of the poor, increasing the availability of food and reducing malnourishment through sustainable development.”

“The new U.S. hunger and food security initiative applies a model of development based on partnership, not patronage,” the editorial states, noting the importance of “clear country ownership and strong country commitment” to success. The piece outlines how the U.S. is working with countries to “strengthen the entire agricultural chain” – from the lab to the market to the table, before concluding, “[b]y improving agriculture and nutrition, the United States has the chance to help a significant percentage of the world’s people achieve the stability, prosperity, and opportunity to which we all aspire” (5/8).

Globe And Mail Asks: Why Won’t Polio Go Away?

With the reports of a polio outbreak in Tajikstan late last month and the anticipation of a “new strategy,” which the author speculates will be adopted at the World Health Assembly this month, Globe and Mail public health reporter Andre Picard poses the question: Why won’t polio go away?

“To date, there has been a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling polio: Immunize, immunize, immunize,” he writes. “But WHO’s new strategy says (once you cut through the cautious bureaucratic language) that efforts must be more geographically focused and politically astute.” Picard highlights other technical challenges to immunization strategies, before writing: “Trying to wipe out an entrenched disease is a high-stakes gamble, one rarely attempted. … The question now is whether, with the frustrating spread of the disease, the eradication program is salvageable.” The piece includes comments by Bruce Aylward, Coordinator of WHO’s Global Polio Eradication Program, who “says the world’s ability to control of eliminate polio rests with two camps” – India and Nigeria, which are “hotbeds of polio,” and the G8 countries, “which pick up the tab for most global health initiatives” (5/7).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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