Facebook Twitter



Time to invest In international family planning

October 1st, 2014 | Add a Comment

Time to invest In international family planning

By U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Right now, leaders from around the world are gathered at the United Nations to discuss the best solutions to address some of the world’s biggest challenges – from poverty, to terrorism, to maternal and infant mortality. Setting the next 15-year agenda for global development is a daunting task, and leaders are rightfully debating which issues to prioritize. But there should be no debate over one in particular: universal access to family planning.

While we’ve seen a lot of progress over the course of the last 15 years, the statistics still feel shockingly anachronistic in the 21st century. Every two minutes, a girl or woman dies from pregnancy-related complications. Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to tragic complications. Sadly, pregnancy is still the leading cause of death for adolescent girls in low to middle-income countries across Asia and Africa.
As a father, husband, and senator, I find these statistics simply heartbreaking. And yet the biggest tragedy of all is that the United States and its international partners have a solution that could change this bleak picture, and we’re not acting on it.

See: http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/218949-time-to-invest-in-international-family-planning

An outlier on women’s health care

October 1st, 2014 | Add a Comment

Our View: LePage clearly an outlier on women’s health care

He espouses the illogical belief that ending abortion will help Maine sustain its population. At the same time, he cuts services that actually benefit low-income adults and families.

Written by Portland Press Herald

See: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/09/25/our-view-lepage-clearly-an-outlier-on-womens-health-care/

Throughout his 3½ years in office, Gov. LePage has received a lot of press for what he’s said about welfare, public education and job creation. Comparatively speaking, his views on reproductive rights have gone largely under the radar.
But when the Republican governor declares that ending access to abortion is critical to the nation’s oldest state sustaining its population – as he did this week – it should be a wake-up call to all voters concerned about preserving access to not only abortion but also birth control and family planning services. Maine is in the middle of a closely fought gubernatorial election, and Maine voters should pay attention to their governor’s eccentric stand on an issue that affects thousands of women.

See: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/09/25/our-view-lepage-clearly-an-outlier-on-womens-health-care/

Thirty Countries to Participate in World Vasectomy Day, Nov. 7, 2014

October 1st, 2014 | Add a Comment

Thirty Countries to Participate in World Vasectomy Day, Nov. 7, 2014 

Goal is to inspire doctors in 30 countries to perform as many vasectomies as possible in 24 hours
while launching global dialogue about men’s role in family planning 

New York, NY, Sept. 3, 2014—Doctors in health clinics and medical offices around the globe will perform as many vasectomies as possible in one 24-hour period for World Vasectomy Day, Nov. 7, 2014. The second annual event is designed to heighten awareness of and dispel myths about vasectomy, increase access to the procedure, and to inspire more men to become engaged in the global family planning conversation, above all.

“World Vasectomy Day is not just about how many vasectomies are completed, but how many conversations are launched,” says Jonathan Stack, who created World Vasectomy Day after he struggled to understand his own resistance to having a vasectomy. “Engaging men in family planning is the right thing to do for yourself, for your family and for our future.”

Some 250 physicians in 30 countries are expected to perform roughly 1,500 vasectomies on Nov. 7. Stack, an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, and World Vasectomy Day co-founder, urologist Doug Stein, M.D., are working with leading practitioners globally to provide free, discounted or low-cost, high-quality vasectomies. They are also working with family planning organizations and the American Urological Assn.

 

To date, among some 30 countries with confirmed participation in the event are Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, England, Kenya, the Philippines, Poland, Rwanda, Spain, Thailand, Uganda and the United States. A countdown to World Vasectomy Day will begin on Oct. 7, 2014.

 

In the U.S., Stein and other providers will mark World Vasectomy Day by completing dozens of procedures during a “Vasectomy-athon” at a venue to be announced. Stein will offer the procedures at no cost. Participating providers are free to determine their own fee.

Read the rest of this entry »

Furthering the Field: PMC Shares New Knowledge About How Gender Norms Interact with Mass Media Programs to Influence Reproductive Health and Family Planning Behavior Change

October 1st, 2014 | Add a Comment

SOUTH BURLINGTON, VERMONT– This September, the International Journal of Population Research  published an article looking at a unique aspect of behavior change relating to family planning and reproductive health: how much did those changes rely on perception of gender norms?

“Gender and Reproductive Outcomes: The Effects of a Radio Serial Drama in Northern Nigeria” was written and researched by staff at Population Media Center (PMC), an international, nonprofit organization that strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education.

“PMC uses serial dramas, often known as soap operas, to address health and social issues within a community,” explains Fatou Jah, PMC’s Research Associate and lead author on the article.

Jah and her colleagues set about researching the impact of a particular PMC drama that aired in four states in northern Nigeria. Ruwan Dare (“Midnight Rain”) was 208 episodes long and aired for two years, July 2007-2009, in Hausa, the most widely spoken language in that area.

“The most illuminating finding,” says Jah of the study, “was that all 12 reproductive health outcomes were positively impacted by many of the gender predictors. This can help other development professionals and other researchers because it reiterates the connection between perceived gender roles and the impact of those norms on uptake of behaviors important for reproductive health and family planning.”

In the process of analyzing this connection, the article articulates the impacts of Ruwan Dare on reproductive health and family planning behaviors, looking across a number of measures, as well as Ruwan Dare’s impact on gender norms.

“This is an important understanding for everyone working on these issues,” says Missie Thurston, PMC’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “We hope that this helps other behavior change communications organizations  that use mass media understand previous results through this new lens, and we certainly hope that this information helps us and others maximize impact and resources in the future.”

The International Journal of Population Research is a peer-reviewed, open access journal that accepts approximately one quarter of submissions. The article authors also included Scott Connolly, PMC’s Director of Research, Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs, and William Ryerson, PMC’s President.

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye: A Burundian Dedicated to Teamwork and Serving the Poor

September 29th, 2014 | Add a Comment

BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI– Jean Bosco Ndayishimiye, a Burundian who lives in the capital city of Bujumbura, found himself needing to consult his trusted advisor about what job he should apply for next in his career dedicated to improving the lives of others. With the help of his advisor Rose, who also happens to be his wife, Jean Bosco decided to apply for a job with an international nonprofit looking to build a Burundian team for an entertainment-education project. The nonprofit was Population Media Center  (PMC) and the task ahead was significant.

“There were many offers with tempting salaries, but I consulted my dear wife and advisor before making my final decision,” says Jean Bosco. “I wanted to lead a team using the values I had obtained through my various experiences. I wanted to pass those values to others, working together in productive, collaborative work.”

Jean Bosco accepted the job of Country Representative for PMC’s Burundi office, and he’s been building and leading a powerful team for behavior change ever since. PMC hires all local staffs to create long-running serial dramas for TV or radio that address social and health issues through entertainment. In Burundi, PMC began broadcasting Agashi (“Hey! Look Again!”) in January 2014. The drama, which addresses issues such as family planning, HIV/AIDS, girls’ education, and gender equity, was recently independently evaluated by UNICEF and found to have an astounding national listenership of 76 percent.

“At this stage, PMC-Burundi is well known in every corner of the country through Agashi,” says Jean Bosco. “Agashi, according to listeners, is one of the two most popular dramas on Burundian airwaves. The messages we’ve received say that people not only love the themes being broadcast through Agashi, but that they are used as true teaching tools to help peer educators persuade and engage their fellow citizens. We are on a roll.”

PMC couldn’t agree more. The work and the impact stemming from the PMC-Burundi team has been growing, continually indicating successful progress in program popularity and impact.

“Getting people to take ownership of transformational messages through entertainment-education and empowerment is effective,” says Jean Bosco. “The approach works because audiences listen to stories that are connected to their everyday lives. Gradually, as people listen, they themselves become agents of change for those around them.”

The same could be said for Jean Bosco himself, whose leadership and personality directly impact the PMC-Burundi staff.

“Jean Bosco continues to use his multitude of skills to enhance and strengthen his team, the drama, and PMC’s process,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “His comprehensive knowledge of his team and the process, plus his unwavering dedication, propel the PMC-Burundi team and project forward.”

The PMC-Burundi staff underwent PMC’s in-country training and have followed the processes in place meticulously and understood PMC’s emphasis on innovation and empowerment at the local level. His leadership has allowed a number of useful additions to PMC’s process through the continued innovations of the staff, such as conducting monthly randomized phone calls to get timely and specific feedback to the writers to influence future scripts for Agashi.

“I love the sense of complementarity and togetherness that permeates the PMC staff. In our small team in Burundi – I call them the ‘Musketeers’,” says Jean Bosco, “everyone is ready to give one another support anytime there is need for it. I think the PMC model is to globally share the coaching and technical expertise of PMC headquarters—supervisory staff who are always predisposed to support the PMC national teams that are in the field worldwide. Personally, I really appreciate the confidence that PMC headquarters places in the staff of its country offices.”

Jean Bosco, who intended to study law, got his undergraduate degree in clinical and social psychology and then got his masters in development. His dedication to helping people, particularly the rural poor in Burundi, exacts a demanding schedule. Jean Bosco explains that his workdays are 12 or more hours long, which he says stems from his education, upbringing, and love of the work.

“All of the positions I have had allowed me to improve the lives of people by helping them to change their behavior,” he says. “From an early age, my education prepared me for loving work and being respectful to people. Some may find those responsibilities too heavy or difficult to carry when simply making a living, but I am determined to help young people develop altruistic values, proactivity, endurance, honesty and integrity because those principles are very difficult to teach to adults.”

Jean Bosco decided to apply for the job at PMC because of the opportunity to lead a team dedicated to improving the lives of his fellow Burundians and his dedication and excitement about that team and the team’s mission comes through every element of his work.

“In short, I am and have always been focused on the development concerns of the poor –in Burundi, especially the rural poor,” says Jean Bosco. “I hope with all my heart that, after three years, the project will have initiated a considerable amount of behavior change in the Burundian population, starting with the staff of PMC-Burundi itself.”

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Contraception: Saving Lives… and the Planet

September 26th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Contraception: Saving Lives… and the Planet 

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/contraception-saving-live_b_5884600.html

 

On Friday, September 26, the world is celebrating World Contraception Day. Okay, ‘celebrating’ may be too strong a word. ‘Observing’ may be more like it. And the number of people actually observing the day in some form is probably small. Okay, very small. To borrow a phrase from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the world “will little note, nor long remember” World Contraception Day 2014. That’s too bad. For in truth, there’s a whole lot to celebrate, and a whole lot more left to do if men and women everywhere are going to have access to the contraceptive method of their choice.

The obvious reason for celebrating modern contraceptives is that they allow us to have children by choice, rather than by chance. They minimize, in other words, the chances of an unintended or unwanted pregnancy. That mere fact itself is worth a celebratory cheer, but there is a lot more to get excited about.

Contraception is a life-saver.

Contraception saves lives
, particularly in developing nations where access to contraception can mean the difference between life and death for girls and women who do not have access to adequate medical care. This is particularly true for child brides who are not physically mature enough to give birth, but pregnancy is a significant health risk for women of any age who are unable to space their pregnancies more than 18 months apart.

In the United States, very few women die from pregnancy-related causes, but in some rural parts of Africa, women have a 1 in 30 lifetime chance of dying as a result of a pregnancy. Of the 800 women in the world who die every day from pregnancy-related causes, the vast majority are in the developing world.

Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond Marriage

September 26th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Beyond Marriage 

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/opinion/sunday/beyond-marriage.html?emc=eta1&_r=1

 

MARRIAGE is disappearing. More than 40 percent of new mothers are unmarried. Many young adults drift into parenthood unintentionally. They may be cohabiting at the time of their child’s birth, but about half of these couples will have split up by the time their child is 5 years old. College-educated young adults are still marrying before having children and planning their families more intentionally. The rest of America, about two-thirds of the population, is not.

 
We’ve been worrying about these trends for years, and wondering: Can marriage be restored as the standard way to raise children? As much as we might welcome a revival, I doubt that it will happen. The genie is out of the bottle. What we need instead is a new ethic of responsible parenthood. If we combine an updated social norm with greater reliance on the most effective forms of birth control, we can transform drifters into planners and improve children’s life prospects.

 
The drifters need better educational and job opportunities, but unless we come to grips with what is happening to marriage and parenting, progress will be limited. For every child lifted out of poverty by a social program, another one is entering poverty as a result of the continued breakdown of the American family. If we could turn back the marriage clock to 1970, before the sharp rise in divorce and single parenthood began, the child poverty rate would be 20 percent lower than it is now. Even some of our biggest social programs, like food stamps, do not reduce child poverty as much as unmarried parenthood has increased it.

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/opinion/sunday/beyond-marriage.html?emc=eta1&_r=1

In Texas & Around The World: Women’s Rights Matter for The Environment

September 26th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Why Women’s Rights Matter for The Environment

See: http://www.tribtalk.org/2014/09/16/why-womens-rights-matter-for-the-environment/

Texas women have suffered major setbacks to their reproductive health and rights this year.

 

At the federal level, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision has made it more difficult for women to access their contraceptive method of choice. At the state level, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry have enacted new restrictions on clinics providing basic women’s health care and family planning services.

 
Of course, these decisions hurt Texas women and their families – but they also increase the risk of social, economic and environmental harm in our great state.

 
When women and their medical providers are prevented from making personal health care decisions, the negative consequences are far-reaching. A woman’s inability to control the number, timing and spacing of her children impacts her health, education and career. Moreover, the cumulative impact of women having more children than they desire strains public health systems and natural resources such as water, energy and healthy food.

Read the rest of this entry »

High Listenership and Good Stories Combine for Large-Scale Behavior Change in Sierra Leone

September 25th, 2014 | Add a Comment

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE– Imagine that for 53 cents, you could reach someone in Sierra Leone with entertaining stories that educate about family planning and using bednets to prevent malaria. A United States nonprofit discovered this month that they didn’t have to imagine – the impact was real.

Population Media Center (PMC), a nonprofit, international organization that strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world with entertainment-education strategies, recently completed an impact evaluation of one of its programs in Sierra Leone. Saliwansai (“Puppet on a String”) was a 208-episode drama that aired on nine radio stations throughout Sierra Leone from April 2012 through April 2014.

“We’re excited by the results from the research survey, which was conducted with a nationally representative sample size of 1,098 respondents,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “The results clearly demonstrate the impact of the radio drama. It was entertaining, and the people of Sierra Leone tuned in.”

The results indicate that Saliwansai reached a total estimated audience of three million people between the ages of 15 and 59 years old. The results also estimate that the cost per behavior change for the listeners who, as a result of listening to the program, began discussing family planning with family, friends, or neighbors was $2.54 US and listeners who began using bednets to prevent malaria was $1.62 US.

“The cost per behavior change is important and demonstrates the power of our approach,” says Barker. “Behavior is a hard thing to change and to do it for these costs is remarkable.”

PMC uses a unique form of entertainment-education: long-running serial dramas on radio and TV. These dramas are based on real-life, mirroring every day challenges and solutions and using country data to determine which social and health issues will be addressed in each drama.

The results of Saliwansai on individual metrics demonstrate varying levels of success, such as listeners being:

  • 3.1 times more likely than non-listeners to say that you can decrease your chance of getting AIDS by using a condom every time you have sex
  • 4.1 times more likely than non-listeners to say it’s okay for information about condoms to be discussed on the radio
  • 2.9 times more likely than non-listeners to say they know where they could get a condom if they wanted one
  • 3.7 times more likely than non-listeners to say that a healthy-looking person can have HIV
  • 2.4 times more likely than non-listeners to say they would buy fresh vegetables from someone who has HIV
  • 2.3 times more likely than non-listeners to say that becoming pregnant every year can impact the health of the mother
  • 1.6 times more likely than non-listeners to say they know of an organization or people that advocate against domestic violence

“Results like these are promising,” says Scott Connolly, PMC’s Director of Research. “Sierra Leone  ranks as one of the lowest in the world on some of the United Nations Human Development Index health indicators. We’re pleased to address some of these issues with Saliwansai as part of the ongoing effort to improve life in Sierra Leone.”

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Condoms and Soap Operas to Save the World: A Forum in Arizona

September 24th, 2014 | Add a Comment

TUCSON, ARIZONA– About 140 people learned about endangered species condoms and soap operas as methods to save the world on September 10th in Tucson, Arizona. The event, titled “How Can Condoms and Soap Operas Save the World?” was co-hosted by the Arizona Chapter of Population Media Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the University of Arizona’s Department of Communication.

The audience gathered to hear Bill Ryerson, President of the Population Media Center (PMC), Kieran Suckling, the Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, and Jennifer Aubrey, Associate Professor of Communications at the University of Arizona discuss domestic and international efforts to bring about positive social change. Read the rest of this entry »