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Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

On Sunday, the New York Times ran an Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof about the use of Misoprostol for medical abortion. In his column, Another Pill That Could Cause a Revolution, Nick explains that Misoprostol is a safe and cheap method for ending a pregnancy. It is also difficult to regulate because the drug was originally intended to prevent stomach ulcers–and is also used to treat postpartum hemorrhage.

Excerpt from the column:

“Could the decades-long global impasse over abortion worldwide be overcome — by little white pills costing less than $1 each?

That seems possible, for these pills are beginning to revolutionize abortion around the world, especially in poor countries. One result may be tens of thousands of women’s lives saved each year.

Five-sixths of abortions take place in developing countries, where poor sterilization and training often make the procedure dangerous. Up to 70,000 women die a year from complications of abortions, according to the World Health Organization.

But researchers are finding an alternative that is safe, cheap and very difficult for governments to restrict — misoprostol, a medication originally intended to prevent stomach ulcers…”

Read the full story here.

Click here to learn about a recent initiative organized by Gynuity Health Projects to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and acceptability of sublingual misoprostol to treat postpartum hemorrhage.

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I learned about a great resource yesterday for those working to improve the lives of women and girls, Girls Discovered: Global Maps of Adolescent Girls. The website has three main sections: Maps and Data, Sunita’s Story, and Take Action. The project is a collaborative effort of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls and Maplecroft.

The Maps and Data section has a nearly endless number of interactive maps and data sets focused on adolescent girls around the world across a number of health, education, social, economic, and population indices. Several of the maps provide interesting information about maternal health or issues impacting maternal health around the world–such as abortion legalizationage specific fertility, global anemia rates, births attended by skilled personnel, and several more.

Sunita’s Story seamlessly combines photos and narrative with maps and data to tell the personal story of one girl in India, Sunita–while also presenting the national burden and geographic distribution of the issues that she faces throughout her life. The presentation is simple and clean, making the information easy to consume.

The Take Action section has three PDF downloadable plans for taking action to address the issues of adolescent girls that are mapped on this site. There is a global action plan, a national action plan for India, and local action plan for India.

I encourage you to explore the site–it is a remarkable resource for those working on any of the various issues impacting adolescent girls and young women around the world.

Description of the project:

“The welfare of adolescent girls is crucial in determining economic and social outcomes for countries today, and in the future. For girls to become healthy mothers, productive citizens and economic contributors, their unique needs must be seen and understood.

Yet today, adolescent girls are undercounted and so underserved. Counting them is the first step to increasing their visibility.

Girls Discovered takes that first step. As a comprehensive source of maps and data on the status of adolescent girls worldwide, Girls Discovered helps donors, policy makers and implementing agencies target their investments.

This one-stop shop for information on adolescent girls is sourced from organizations operating in the public interest, and is meant for researchers, practitioners, advocates, policy-makers and the public – anyone who seeks change for the world’s 600 million adolescent girls.”

Mapping for Maternal Health:

A number of organizations have recently started using mapping technologies to provide visual representation of research and data while others are using mapping tools to link organizations working in maternal health in an effort to build a stronger and more interconnected community of maternal health professionals.

Take a look at a few of the maternal health maps I have visited recently.  Several are interactive and allow for user-generated content!

If you know of other maternal health mapping initiatives, please let me know in the comments section of this post!

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An editorial published in the Globe and Mail on Monday calls on Canadians to “abandon posturing over funding abortion overseas,” and turn to a new focus for their plans to improve maternal health abroad: a new facility focused entirely on maternal and child health at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The idea is that this model would allow recipients of funds to decide on the interventions that work in their particular countries, in their specific social contexts.

The Globe and Mail

“…The recent political debate on maternal mortality has focused on unsafe abortions, but this is a distraction. Unsafe abortions do account for some of these pregnancy-related deaths and the reality of abortion services in Africa is a horror. But given that abortion is highly restricted for 90 per cent of Africans, and wholly illegal in 14 countries, the G8 would accomplish little by focusing on the issue. The bigger task – and one where the G8 can actually make a difference – is empowering women to have more control over their sexual lives, by increasing access to family planning and ensuring that pregnant women have access to care when they are ready to deliver…”

Read the full editorial, When it comes to maternal health, let Africans decide.

Be sure to take a look at the comments section of the editorial.

For more coverage of the G8/G20 in the Globe and Mail, click here.

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The Latin American Herald Tribune reports on a new study by UNFPA that highlights the incidence of maternal deaths, the frequency of abortion, and the concentration of new HIV cases among the most marginalized sector of the Argentine population. 

The Latin American Herald Tribune

“…The maternal mortality rate remains ‘relatively elevated in relation to the available health services in the country.’

The study, presented at the U.N. Information Center in Buenos Aires, adds that complications from abortion over the past 15 years have remained the main cause of maternal deaths.

But given that induced abortion is illegal in Argentina, ‘its magnitude can only be estimated by indirect means,’ which show that voluntary terminations of pregnancy oscillate between 372,000 and 522,000 per year.

Among the main victims are the teenage members of the population, the fertility rates for whom show ‘many disparities’ when one compares Argentina’s impoverished north with the main urban centers…”

Read the full story, UN Report Highlights Inequality in Argentina.

For additional information on maternal mortality in Argentina, click here

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Lisa Russell and IPAS invite you to an evening of film and music for women’s health.

Click here to learn about MDGfive.com, a new project that Lisa and Maya are working on. They are calling on creative communities to use their artistic skills to raise awareness for the issue of maternal health.

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Five recent stories published on the site have raised various issues impacting maternal health—including leadership and innovation, maternal death audits, access to primary health care and safe delivery, human rights, and even a proposal for a separate maternal health ministry.

allAfrica.com

Namibia: Leadership Development, Social Innovation and Improved System Performance

The Maternal Health Initiative Team,  an offshoot of the African Public Health Leadership and Systems Innovation Initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is “developing a model for improving public health leadership and system performance.”

“…The project is underpinned by three principles: local leadership development, social innovation and improved system performance.

The initiative applies a business-consulting approach called the Innovation Lab. Through the Innovation Lab, multi-stakeholder teams are guided through an intensive leadership development and problem-based learning experience. The aim is to tackle a complex social and system problem through a multi-stakeholder and innovation response.

When deciding on a priority health problem to tackle as a pilot, it wasn’t hard for Namibian health leaders to choose maternal health. Between 2000 and 2006, maternal mortality jumped to 449 deaths per 100 000 births, an increase of 178 deaths…”

Read the full article,  Namibia:Health Authorities Tackle Maternal Mortality.

Rwanda: A Call for Maternal Death Audits

“…As a strategic move to curb the maternal death rate further and achieve millennium development goal 5, the government recently extended the fight to the village level.

This was announced recently by the Minister of Health, Dr. Richard Sezibera, during a meeting that was held with a visiting US medical team to discuss Rwanda’s health progress.

During the discussions, Sezibera noted that it was imperative to engage the community in fighting maternal death rates so that leaders at the village level can identify the causes of these deaths in bid to find a lasting solution.

‘This year we started maternal death audits in villages because we believe that social audits on death causes will enable authorities identify answers to this problem,’ the minister said…”

Read the full article, Rwanda: Maternal Mortality Control Extends to Village Level.

Nigeria: Improving Access to Primary Health Care and Safe Delivery

“Health System Development Project II, a World Bank assisted project has commissioned two Comprehensive Primary Health Centres at Dagiri community in Gwagwalada and Dabi village at Kwali.

The Health Centres are to address the high rate of maternal and child mortality cases in the country, said Mrs Anne Okigbo-fisher, World Bank task team leader during the hand over ceremony of the centres. She said Nigeria records 10 percent of the world’s maternal mortality rates out of the 524,000 women that die yearly during child birth, adding that approximately 99 percent of the mortality rate is due to child birth complications in developing countries.

According to her the objective of HSDP II is to reduce such complications and improve safe delivery in the country…”

Read the full article, Nigeria: World Bank Commissions N104 Million Hospitals in Abuja.

Kenya: Human Rights Impacting Maternal Health

Amnesty International calls on Kenya’s Parliament to ensure that the draft Constitution of Kenya upholds respect for, the protection and fulfilment of all human rights. The draft Constitution should retain social and economic rights as enforceable rights. In addition, the organization also calls on Parliament to remove the provision stipulating that the right to life begins at conception and if the article on abortion access is retained, provide for abortion for rape victims…

…If the Constitution explicitly limits women’s access to abortion services, it must, at least ensure women’s access to safe and timely abortion services in cases of risk to the life or health of the woman or pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. Such an exemption is required by international law and is required by the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which Kenya signed in 2003. In view of the high number of maternal deaths resulting from abortion complications, the State should protect women’s right to life by ensuring meaningful access to sexual and reproductive health services including information and contraception and commit to address sexual violence and coercion…”

Read the full article, Kenya: New Constitution Must Ensure Rights for All.

Uganda: A Call for an Independent Maternal Health Ministry

“An independent ministry should be set up to handle maternal health, the deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has said.

‘Who is planning for women’s health in this country? Basic things like antibiotics, oxytocins (drugs that help manage bleeding) which cost sh300 and manual vacuum aspirators to remove retained products from the womb are not there,’ she told journalists at a briefing on the state of maternal health on Friday…”

Read the full story, Uganda: Kadaga Wants Independent Maternal Health Ministry.

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Doctors in Nicaragua refuse to provide Amalia, a Nicaraguan woman with a ten year old daughter, with the care that she needs to fight her cancer. Chemotherapy could save her but it might also harm or lead to the death of her baby—and doctors fear legal consequences of performing a therapeutic abortion.

RH Reality Check

This article explains how the revised penal code (that stipulates prison sentences for girls and women who seek abortion services and for health professionals who provide abortion services) is inconsistent with Nicaragua’s Obstetric Rules and Protocols that are issued by the Ministry of Health. The article also tells Amalia’s personal story, putting a human face on the issue of access to therapeutic abortions in Nicaragua.

Read the article here.

Click here to read Amnesty International’s report on the abortion ban in Nicaragua–and watch a short video on the issue.

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Elizabeth Payne, Editorial Board member of the Ottawa Citizen, outlines a plan/suggestion by Keith Martin, medical doctor and maternal health expert, for G8 countries to tackle maternal mortality in developing countries.

Ottawa Citizen

“…Martin says the federal government must articulate exactly what it is going to do when it comes to the G8 maternal health initiative and access to reproductive technology. ‘I hope they don’t take an ideological position.’

Harper will be ‘turning back the clock,’ Martin says, if the initiative does not include reproductive health: ‘I can’t think of another country that would take that position.’

But, he adds, the initiative is too crucial to be lost because of political debate. There is a way Canada can lead a ‘pragmatic, effective plan’ without having to directly support abortions or contraceptives.

Martin suggests each of the G8 countries could take on a different aspect of the campaign to reduce maternal and child mortality.

‘It would be a way for the conservative government to make sure what comes out of the G8 is a plan that is implemented rather than talked about,’ he said.

In order to reduce maternal mortality rates, he says, a G8 initiative should include training of primary care workers, access to medications, diagnostics, clean water, access to power, access to family planning and nutrition, particularly micro-nutrients…”

Read the full story, How to help women, and avoid abortion politics.

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According to a report by Observatorio de Salud Sexual y Reproductiva, Argentina has the means to address  maternal mortality, but fails to do so because of a lack of political will.

Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS)

“…Argentina has a maternal mortality rate of 44 for every 100,000 live births – two and a half times higher than the average in neighbouring Chile and Uruguay, and a far cry from the six per 100,000 or seven per 100,000 live births in Spain and Italy, for example. Both national authorities and independent experts working on these issues say that at this pace, Argentina will fail to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of significantly reducing the number of maternal deaths by 2015, bringing it down to Chile’s and Uruguay’s current levels…”

Read the full story here.

Visit the Observatorio de Salud Sexual y Reproductiva site here.

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Too Young , Too Late and Too Far recently premiered in Lagos, Nigeria

The films, produced by Communicating for Change (CFC), were shot in the ‘Nollywood’ style which involves a combination of suspense and drama—but the project team also included health expert script consultants, Dr Boniface Oye Adeniran, Obstetrician/Gynecologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and Dr Babatunde Ahonsi, formerly of the Ford Foundation.

“The films: Too Young, Too Far, and Too Late, take a provocative look at the life-threatening conditions that pregnant women face in Nigeria while also revealing their struggles with matters of bias against gender, abortion and childbirth as well as the corresponding challenges faced by husbands, boyfriends and families, who have to deal with their own hopes, frustrations and fears.”

Read the full story about Too Young, Too Far, and Too Late here.

For more information about Communicating for Change, click here.

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The International Women’s Health Coalition lists and describes what they see as the top ten wins for women’s health and rights in 2009–and comment on next steps and challenges for each win.

RH Reality Check

The IWHC’s picks for the top ten women’s health and rights wins span topics ranging from the new Bolivian constitution that guarantees sexual and reproductive rights and the striking down of sex work criminalization in India to a new law that combats child marriage in Yemen and the upholding of the right to abortion in England.

To see the complete list with descriptions of the wins, potential next steps and challenges, click here.

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ZIMBABWE
www.UNICEF.org
User Fees are Limiting Women’s Access to Obstetrics Services
The Government of Zimbabwe along with UNICEF released new social development data which exposed a grim situation for women and children in Zimbabwe. The Multiple Indicator and Monitoring Survey (MIMS), conducted in May 2009 reported a deterioration in access to key social services for women and children, especially for the poorest populations and in rural areas. The survey also revealed alarming data that 1 in 2 pregnant women in rural areas were now delivering at home and that 39 per cent nationally were not accessing the requisite medical facilities for delivery, while 40 per cent were not attended to at birth by a skilled birth attendant. These findings confirm the result of previous research indicating that user fees and other financial barriers are limiting women’s access to life-saving obstetric services.

PERU

www.rhrealitycheck.org
Proposed Abortion Law in Peru is Met with a Divided Governmental Response
In Peru a multidisciplinary committee responsible for revising the Penal Code has raised the issue of decriminalizing abortion in cases of rape or severe disability of the fetus. The Minister of Health, Oscar Ugarte, stated that therapeutic abortion is not against the right of life and announced that it will be regulated, because it is important to save the lives of women. However, the Minister of Defense, Rafael Rey, rejected the proposition and warned that he will resign his position if Congress approves the decriminalization of abortion in these exceptional circumstances. The Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Mercedes Araóz, also rejected the decriminalization of abortion and suggested that the solution in case of rape is adoption.

GHANA
www.peacefmonline.com
The First Lady Calls for the Eradication of Myths/Rumors Regarding Family Planning
The First lady, Mrs. Ernestina Naadu Mills, has called for the eradication of myths and rumors linked to family planning methods to reduce maternal mortality in Ghana. Family planning had been identified to reduce 30 percent of maternal deaths. Mrs. Naadu Mills who was launching the National Safe Motherhood campaign in Koforidua, on Thursday described as unacceptable the fact that most of maternal deaths were preventable and solutions were also available. The current maternal mortality figure for the country stands at about 451 per every 100,000 live births. The campaign aims to accelerate the reduction of maternal and newborn deaths in Ghana in order to achieve 75 percent reduction by the year 2015–Millennium Development Goal 5.

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