Articles by Category for ‘Reproductive Health’
Re-Examining the Global Barriers to Reproductive Freedom
Every woman in the world should be able to space or limit her births. At a minimum, that means every woman should have access to the contraceptive method of her choice, whether it’s a female condom, birth control pills, an IUD, sterilization or a long-acting injectable. But physical access to contraception does not guarantee reproductive freedom. For many women in the developing world the real barrier to the exercise of reproductive choice is male opposition, religious teachings, social norms, or misinformation about contraceptive options.
There has always been some truth to the idea that supply creates its own demand: make modern contraceptives more available and more women will want to use them. But in male-dominated societies where religious teachings or social norms promote large families, there are practical limits to how far supply will drive demand. And that’s particularly true in areas where child marriage is still prevalent. When a girl is married at an early age, and her husband demands a large family, the mere availability of contraceptives does not guarantee that she can exercise reproductive choice. In societies where violence against women is widespread the exercise of reproductive freedom can even result in physical violence or even death.
The problem is, and it’s a significant one, is that countries with the highest fertility rates and the lowest rates of contraceptive use tend to be male-dominated societies where gender inequality prevails and religious teachings or social norms dictate larger families. Add to that ignorance or misinformation about contraceptive options, and women, in practice, may have little or no reproductive choice… even if modern methods of contraception are available. Girl brides, in particular, seldom exercise any real degree of reproductive freedom; any decision about childbearing is effectively out of their control.
Iran considers ban on vasectomies in drive to boost birthrate
Supreme leader sees family planning policy as an imitation of western lifestyle and aims to double Iran’s population
Iran’s parliament is seeking a ban on vasectomies and a tightening of abortion rules as the country moves away from its progressive laws on family planning in an attempt to increase the birthrate.
Two decades after Iran initiated an effective birth control programme, including subsidised male sterilisation surgeries and free condom distribution, the country is to make a U-turn.
Last year the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, criticised existing policy on contraception, describing it as an imitation of western lifestyle.
The 74-year-old has urged the government to tackle what he believes to be an ageing population and to double the number of people in Iran from 77 million to at least 150 million.
This week Tehran’s conservative-dominated parliament, the Majlis, voted to discuss banning vasectomies and introducing punishments for those involved in encouraging contraceptive services and abortions, local agencies reported.
Namibian rural women negotiate for safer sex and family planning
By Ndalimpinga Iita WINDHOEK (Xinhua) — On a Sunday afternoon, in a far flung village in northern Namibia’s Omusati Region, Hileni Kampangu sees off her two children to Sunday school. There and then, she multi-tasks between breast-feeding a small baby and tinkling a three-year-old girl.
“They are a handful. Being a young mother of four is no child’s play,” Kampungu said as she juggles between giving attention to the children.
Kampungu’s greatest wish is not to have any more children. But this might just be a wish, as exclusion from negotiating safer sex and discussing family planning with her partner may shatter that, she said.
“This is my fourth child, and by the look of things, it will not be the last,” she told Xinhua on Sunday afternoon.
Climate Change: The Least We Can Do
As the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report makes clear, we are long past the point of avoiding climate change. The best we can do now is to avoid the worst effects. The situation is more dire than previously projected and the consequences of inaction more starkly drawn than ever before:
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased….Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence)…. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
In a perfect world, the IPCC’s report would summon forth our best efforts at mitigating climate change and its effects. We would be doing whatever is necessary and prudent to avoid a human and environmental catastrophe. By now, however, it is evident that governments — and the people they represent — are shrinking from the challenge. Hope for concerted global action on any kind of meaningful scale has largely evaporated.
Instead of asking what is the most that can be done to mitigate climate change and alleviate its consequences, perhaps we should be asking, “What is the least that can be done?”
Philippine Supreme Court Upholds Most of Reproductive-Health Law
Law Allows Greater Access to Birth Control; Some Provisions Struck Down
The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld most of a controversial reproductive-health law, handing the government a victory in its effort to provide greater public access to birth control and family-planning education in the heavily Catholic country.
The implementation of the law has been held up for more than a year by a legal challenge from the Roman Catholic Church and faith-based groups. Advocates of the law say it will help slow the country’s population growth of more than 2% annually by providing people more access to contraceptives. However, opponents say the law violates the Philippine Constitution by promoting contraceptives, imposing population control and violating religious beliefs.
“This monumental decision upholds the separation of church and state and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development,” said Congressman Edcel Lagman, one of the authors of the law.
Four Steps to Better Link Climate Adaptation and Reproductive Health Strategies
LINK TO PODCAST: http://ecsp-wwc.podomatic.com/entry/2014-03-27T14_53_31-07_00
Climate change vulnerability is closely tied to population dynamics, says Kathleen Mogelgaard in this week’s podcast. “We know that population size, composition and spatial distribution around the world is constantly changing, and that these changes do have implications for climate change exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity – the three elements of vulnerability.”
And yet, despite this knowledge, alternative population scenarios are rarely considered in climate assessments. “We do know that things like fertility and population growth can be responsive to policy and programmatic interventions,” she says, and more than 233 million women worldwide currently lack access to family planning but want to delay or prevent pregnancy. Addressing that unmet need could make a major difference in the growth rates of many regions of the world, reducing climate vulnerability along the way.
Mogelgaard outlines four ways the links between climate change adaptation and reproductive health strategies need to be strengthened: in adaptation planning frameworks, tools and training, program design, and the evidence base for these connections.
The creation of National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPAs) was a major initiative by the UN Framework on Convention on Climate Change to create climate adaptation plans for the most vulnerable countries. Most of the plans, in fact, identified rapid population growth as something that exacerbates vulnerability. But when it came to the implementation phase, only a “handful of the NAPAs recognized that family planning and reproductive health services could be part of an adaptation strategy,” Mogelgaard says; fewer still made them a priority, and none were funded.
Assessing progress for populations worldwide
When the Commission on Population and Development gathers on 7-11 April, it will be only a few months away from the 20-year anniversary of the largest intergovernmental conference on population and development ever held – the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994. Ahead of this event, John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division, spoke with DESA News about some of the demographic trends during the past 20 years and some of the issues currently at stake.
“One of the most important areas of progress goes to the heart of what the Cairo conference was all about,” said Mr. Wilmoth, highlighting how this conference represented a shift in thinking. “Across the board, the emphasis went toward thinking about individuals and their rights and needs, and addressing those issues first and foremost,” he explained. He also pointed to positive changes that can be seen over the past 20 years including a substantial reduction of fertility around the world, increases in life expectancy as well as greater recognition of the contribution of international migration to development.
The conference in Cairo helped galvanize action that brought major improvements in the well-being of people around the world. When representatives and experts from a large number of UN Member States and NGOs gather in New York for the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development, they will assess the status of implementation of the Programme of Action, adopted by 179 governments in 1994.
“There is still an unfinished agenda of the Cairo conference,” Mr. Wilmoth said, pointing to the need to continue to improve life expectancy, reduce fertility, enhance access to education, and achieve gender equality. “It means continuing to work on fulfilling the rights and needs of individuals across the life course,” Mr. Wilmoth added.
Bill Frist: Contraception Is A Pro-Life Cause In Developing World
When it comes to the health of children and mothers worldwide, there are immense challenges yet many signs of hope.
Over 6.9 million children die every year in the developing world from preventable, treatable causes. While the loss of these children is a tragedy of epic proportions, the good news is that over the last six years, this number has been lowered by 35%. We know we can combat newborn mortality and enhance child survival. Simple, low-cost measures are being taken to ensure better health for these children around the world. Measures like oral rehydration therapy, bed nets to prevent malaria, and access to immunizations have accelerated the rate of reducing child mortality in developing nations.
With an increased focus on maternal, newborn, and child health over the past few years, the global community has seen real progress against daunting challenges. An underappreciated part of that story is healthy birth spacing and timing, or family planning, which has a profound effect on the survival and quality of life of both mothers and children. As Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and Washington Post columnist, puts it, “family planning is a pro-life cause.