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How Bangladesh achieved its “amazing” health statistics

December 9th, 2013 | Add a Comment

How Bangladesh achieved its “amazing” health statistics
See: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99208/how-bangladesh-achieved-its-amazing-health-statistics

LONDON, 26 November 2013 (IRIN) – In health terms, Bangladesh is a “positive deviant”, performing far better, given its widespread poverty, than anyone could have expected. The London-based medical journal, The Lancet, recently published a series exploring Bangladesh’s surprising success, calling it “one of the great mysteries of global health”.

Here’s the paradox: Bangladesh is a very poor country,- much poorer than India or Pakistan. It has the lowest spending on healthcare in south Asia, (just US$27 per capita annually), and is extremely short of qualified doctors and nurses (only three doctors and three nurses for every 10,000 residents).

And yet, compared with neighbouring India, Pakistan and Nepal, it has achieved some impressive statistics. It has lowest infant and child mortality (51 per 1,000 live births), the highest vaccination rates (86.2 percent of children between one and two years old are vaccinated to internationally recommended standards), and the most extensive reach of family planning services (52 percent of married women under 50 now use modern methods of contraception). It also has the lowest maternal mortality rate (194 per 100,000 live births), despite relatively few women (32 percent) giving birth with a skilled birth attendant present.

Carine Ronsmans, an epidemiology professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who has worked extensively in Bangladesh over the past four decades, said its success, supported by robust data, has been “amazing”.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99208/how-bangladesh-achieved-its-amazing-health-statistics

VIEW: Dealing with Pakistan population issues

December 9th, 2013 | Add a Comment

VIEW: Dealing with population issues -Haroon Mustafa Janjua
See: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C12%5C04%5Cstory_4-12-2013_pg3_4

There is lack of spousal communication: women are scared to initiate a discussion on family planning and related reproductive health issues, fearing repercussions from their husbands

Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, with an estimated population of 183 million. The country is in the midst of an unprecedented demographic transition making the third highest annual net addition to the global population after India and China. The high fertility rate is a major contributor to this situation since the mortality rate has been fairly stable over the years. The burning issue of population can be tackled through appropriate policy measures, enabling rapid economic growth and a demographic dividend. If the issue is not tackled with all seriousness, this tide will cause economic burdens, unemployment, consequent unrest and violence leading to political and civil conflicts.

There are many questions that need to be answered on this critical issue, which has often been politicised over religious and cultural grounds. The unsustainable population growth, reluctance in family planning and birth spacing, and fragile economic and industrial positioning are unable to stem the rising tide of population. Pakistan’s population is projected to reach a staggering 350 million by 2050, almost double its present size, which itself is not a very healthy indicator. As a nation stuck in a plethora of problems on many fronts, we can ill afford to bear such burdens. The major chunk of the population comprises of a large demographic of youth with insufficient prospects of employment – a dangerous portent for policy makers to handle.

The historical analysis of family planning and its developmental impact is not very encouraging. From the establishment of the Family Planning Association of Pakistan (1953) until the recent devolution of powers to the provinces (2010), there have been changes in policies with successive changes in government, which included a freeze on family planning during the Ziaul Haq rule. A national population programme, begun in 1955, and the population welfare programme have been part of the national five-year plans since 1960. Despite these early efforts in family planning in Pakistan, contraceptive prevalence remains low at 35 percent compared to 85 percent in China and 61 percent in Bangladesh. The fertility rate is 4.1 (3.1 urban and 4.0 rural). Following the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994, Pakistan has gradually integrated family planning with reproductive health services and has adopted a voluntary and target-free approach to family planning services.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C12%5C04%5Cstory_4-12-2013_pg3_4

Family planning advocates face fatwas from fundamentalists in Pakistan

December 9th, 2013 | Add a Comment

Family planning advocates face fatwas from fundamentalists in Pakistan
See: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Family-planning-advocates-face-fatwas-from-fundamentalists-in-Pakistan/articleshow/26918552.cms

MUMBAI: Healthcare activists promoting family planning in Pakistan are facing constant fatwas from conservative forces, killing of volunteers and kidnapping of the public health activists, apart from the lacklustre support from the government.

“Five of our staff members were killed by the fundamentalists. But the sister of one of the martyrs came up to join and the take the social fight further as a health worker,” says Sayed Kamal Shah, CEO of Rahnuma which is the largest NGO working in the area of reproductive health. He was in Kochi to make a presentation at the ongoing global health conference on social marketing and social franchising, being organized by HLFPPT from December 3 to 5.

The main hurdles of family planning programmes in Pakistan are lack of political will, insufficient public funding, unavailability, stigma, family pressure and religious concerns, he said. “The attitude among the people is changing fast now and there is huge demand. The unmet needs for contraceptives are 33 percent. The people want to buy contraceptives, but availability is the concern,” he explained.

To read the full story, please click here: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/Family-planning-advocates-face-fatwas-from-fundamentalists-in-Pakistan/articleshow/26918552.cms

In Areas Where Children Die Young, Family Planning Is a Hard Sell

December 9th, 2013 | Add a Comment

In Areas Where Children Die Young, Family Planning Is a Hard Sell
See: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/in-areas-where-children-die-young-family-planning-is-a-hard-sell/?_r=1

Nairobi, Kenya — There are a variety of reasons why women in traditional or less-developed societies give birth to many children: religious, cultural, economic, status and lack of adequate information. But one reason that seems so obvious once you think about it – but which seldom tops the list – is the fear that the children they do bear might not survive.

“Although I live in a small house – in fact, it’s a toilet – I would still like to have as many children as God wills,” a young mother from Korogocho, a slum in Nairobi, said at a young mother’s club created by Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, to bring together mothers to discuss health issues. “I’ve seen many women who only have five children, and two of them die, leaving her with only three. Can you imagine if she had just two?”

In such societies having numerous children is a kind of social insurance, a guarantee that those who do survive will help the parents financially and take care of them in old age. Traditional family planning campaigns have stressed the benefits of spacing births for both the children and the mother. Fewer children means each would receive more attention and resources, and the mother would be able to regain her strength before giving birth again.

But in my work for Jhpiego’s Tupange project, an urban health initiative offering access to family planning in Kenya, I have learned that it is not enough to attempt to convince them that smaller families are a good idea. For family planning programs to succeed in helping women have smaller, healthier families, it is necessary to vastly improve basic medical care so they can begin to believe that their children will survive.

To read the full article, please click here: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/01/in-areas-where-children-die-young-family-planning-is-a-hard-sell/?_r=1

Women in developing countries must realise they have right to good healthcare

December 9th, 2013 | Add a Comment

Women in developing countries must realise they have right to good healthcare
See: http://www.trust.org/item/20131105143528-qavro/

Imagine this. Your child is sick, but you need your husband’s permission to buy medicine. Your child doesn’t improve, and you still need your husband’s permission to attend a health clinic. In fact, you need his permission to do anything to help your child feel better.

Imagine this. You have a serious health problem and have been told that pregnancy may be fatal for you. Contraception could save your life, but under pressure from your family, you are forced to avoid it, putting yourself in unnecessary danger.

Imagine this. You desperately need an emergency Caesarian section to safely deliver your child. This time, your husband gives permission for the surgery. But the doctor is unable to operate because your father refuses to give him permission to do so.

In my home country of Somaliland, I have witnessed these life-threatening scenarios happen time and time again. I have been forced to call in a police officer to witness the refusal of a male relative to give permission to operate on a dying woman. I have demanded that if these relatives refuse to give permission, they should sign a declaration in front of the law stating that they wish for her to die.

When talking about improving healthcare, it is paramount that local traditions and customs are taken into account. In some cultures, including mine, women – for example – cannot make their own decisions in regards to medical care, even in emergency situations.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.trust.org/item/20131105143528-qavro/

Sustainability and Complexity: Are We Doomed to Repeat History?

December 9th, 2013 | Add a Comment

Sustainability and Complexity: Are We Doomed to Repeat History?
The more complex a society, the more difficult it is to solve problems and avoid catastrophe. Sustainability advocates need to take a fresh look at the challenges if they are to plan effectively for real-world outcomes.

See: http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/1116-sustainability-and-complexity-are-we-doomed-to-repeat-history

By William Ophuls

Sustainability as usually understood is an oxymoron. Using the found wealth of the New World and the geological legacy of fossil hydrocarbons, we humans have created an anti-ecological Titanic. Every effort to “green” this monstrous vessel-making the deck chairs recyclable, feeding the boilers with biofuels, installing hybrid winches and windlasses, and the like-is doomed to fail in the long run, because what is required is a radical change in our thinking and way of life. There are many obstacles to such a transformation, but one in particular is under-appreciated: the challenge of complexity.

Civilization’s Vicious Circle

Civilizations are trapped in a vicious circle. They must keep solving the problems of complexity, for that is the sine qua non of civilized existence; but every solution creates new, ever more difficult problems, which then require new, ever more demanding solutions.

Thus complexity breeds more of the same, and each increase in complexity makes it harder to cope, while at the same time escalating the penalty for failure. Breakdown becomes unavoidable in the long run. In effect, civilizations enact a tragedy in which their raison d’être – the use of energy to foster the complexity that raises them above the hunter-gatherer level of subsistence – becomes the agent of their ultimate downfall.

What is to stop us from reforming our mighty civilization so that it does not enact this tragedy?
Unfortunately, beyond a certain point, growth leads to a fundamental, qualitative change in the nature of systems. Specifically, it leads to what scientists call “chaos,” meaning a system is characterized by so many feedback loops operating in a nonlinear fashion that its behavior becomes more and more impenetrable and unpredictable and therefore less and less manageable, because neither the timing nor the severity of specific events is foreseeable.

To read the full essay, please click here: http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/1116-sustainability-and-complexity-are-we-doomed-to-repeat-history

Researchers say Arctic Ocean leaking methane at an alarming rate

December 9th, 2013 | Add a Comment

Researchers say Arctic Ocean leaking methane at an alarming rate

See: http://www.adn.com/2013/11/30/3205668/researchers-say-arctic-ocean-leaking.html#storylink=cpy

FAIRBANKS — Ounce for ounce, methane has an effect on global warming more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and it’s leaking from the Arctic Ocean at an alarming rate, according to new research by scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Their article, which appeared last week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience, states that the Arctic Ocean is releasing methane at a rate more than twice what scientific models had previously anticipated.

Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov at UAF’s International Arctic Research Center have spent more than a decade researching the Arctic’s greenhouse gas emissions, along with scientists from Russia, Europe and the Lower 48.

Shakhova, the lead author of the most recent report, said the methane release rate likely is even greater than their paper describes.

“We decided to be as conservative as possible,” Shakhova said. “We’re actually talking the top of the iceberg.”

The researchers worked along the continental shelf off the northern coast of eastern Russia — the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, which is underlain by sub-sea permafrost.

Much like the now-submerged Beringia, the land bridge that once connected Alaska to Russia, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf was dry land until around 7,000 to 15,000 years ago, when it flooded and became part of the Arctic Ocean. During that time on dry land, the shelf developed a layer of permafrost that is now in danger of melting away and releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases.

To read the full story, please click here: http://www.adn.com/2013/11/30/3205668/researchers-say-arctic-ocean-leaking.html

Red list 2013: threatened species across the regions of the world

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

Red list 2013: threatened species across the regions of the world
More than 71,000 species across the world have been assessed in the latest update of the IUCN red list.
See: http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/nov/26/iucn-red-list-threatened-species-by-country-statistics

The latest update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list has been published today. A total of 71,576 species have now been assessed, of which 21,286 are threatened with extinction according to the international organisation.

The Okapi, also known as the ‘forest giraffe’, and one of Africa’s rarest birds – the sub-Saharan white-winged Flufftail – are now on the brink of extinction according to the latest update. The latest red list also highlights how almost 200 species of bird are now critically endangered.

But the red list update does provide some good news for some of the species assessed. Two species of albatross are reported as having a lower risk of extinction due to increases in their populations and the Island fox, previously recorded as critically endangered, is now listed as near threatened. According to the IUCN, the Island fox is approaching recovery after a decline in the mid-90s mainly attributed to disease and predation by non-native species.

More than 71,000 species have been assessed across the world by the IUCN in the latest update of the red list. The fact that 11,881 species are deemed data deficient shows the difficulties faced in trying to analyse the status of such a variety of species at such a level.

The IUCN state that although not all of the world’s species have been assessed, the red list provides a “useful snapshot of what is happening to species today and highlights the urgent need for conservation action”.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/nov/26/iucn-red-list-threatened-species-by-country-statistics

7 Iconic Animals Humans Are Driving to Extinction

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

7 Iconic Animals Humans Are Driving to Extinction
By Douglas Main
See: http://www.livescience.com/41421-animals-threatened-with-extinction.html

It’s hard to imagine a world in which elephants, orangutans, lions and other iconic wildlife only exist in stories, photos and zoos. But that may be where the future is heading for some of these animals. Several creatures around the world are being pushed toward extinction by humans, through hunting and habitat loss, researchers say.

Growing populations of humans, and rising demand for agricultural products and the animals themselves via poaching, are elbowing these iconic animals to the brink. This stark reality has become even more palpable since the United Nations issued a report this summer estimating that the global population will reach 11 billion by 2100, faster than previously estimated. If these animals are to be saved, people will need to be educated about the creatures’ plight, poaching must be stopped, and the animals’ habitats will need to be protected, experts say.

Below, are seven animals that humans are threatening with extinction. These are just a few examples of how humans are contributing to the sixth-largest mass extinction in the history of the planet, according to most biologists.

Lions
There are only about 20,000 lions left in Africa, according to Dereck Joubert, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence and filmmaker who lives among the iconic big cats in Botswana with his wife, Beverly. About 50 years ago, there were 450,000 lions – a decline of more than 95 percent, he said. About five wild lions are killed every day throughout Africa, Joubert added.

Trophy hunters, mostly Americans, kill about 600 lions per year, typically males with large manes. More than 90 percent of these trophies are taken back to the United States and the activity often takes place in “canned” hunts where lions are placed in small enclosures or even cages and then shot, Joubert added.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.livescience.com/41421-animals-threatened-with-extinction.html

Pakistan: The human capital debacle

December 2nd, 2013 | Add a Comment

The human capital debacle
See: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-216396-The-human-capital-debacle

The Population Association of Pakistan, in collaboration with the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), organised a two-day conference with the theme, ‘Population: New Realities and Challenges for Human Development’ on November 20-21, 2013.

The conference was held at the NUST campus in Islamabad and was attended by senior government officials, eminent social scientists, parliamentarians, representatives of NGOs and civil society, demographers, and faculty and students of NUST. This was the second conference of its kind, held during the last three weeks, on the broader areas of human development organised by NUST – reflecting the university’s commitment towards human development in Pakistan.

The purpose of this conference was to sensitise the country’s political leadership and senior government officials on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead on account of the rising population. It is well-known that a strong human capital base makes a country more prosperous; the concept of human capital is thus more relevant to a labour-surplus country like Pakistan, as it is endowed with more labour owing to the higher population growth rate. The surplus labour of Pakistan is its human resource which can be transformed into human capital with effective inputs of education, health and moral values.

Pakistan is a relatively young country with nearly 50 percent of its population below the age of 20 years. Pakistan’s population at the time of independence was 33 million; by mid-2013, the population is estimated to have reached 184 million. Therefore, in roughly two generations, Pakistan’s population has increased by 150 million, which means it has grown at an average rate of 2.6 percent per annum. Interestingly, Pakistan adds one New Zealand to its population every year and one Australian in every five years.

By 2050, Pakistan’s population is likely to increase to 350 million from the current level of 184 million, of which over 235 million will be of working age (15-64 years). Most importantly, Pakistan has over a hundred million youth today and this number will keep on rising as we move forward in time. Pakistan stands to benefit from its large population, provided that it transforms them into productive citizens by investing in education and health (popularly known as the demographic dividend). Pakistan stands to lose enormously if it fails to invest in its people because the large population, particularly the youth, will then serve as high-octane fuel, igniting repeated cycles of social and political instability (popularly known as demographic disaster).

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-216396-The-human-capital-debacle