May 2010's Edition of
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Foreign Aid Fight Imperils International Family Planning
Earlier this year, President Obama proposed a 10.3 percent increase in international family planning assistance for the fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2010, but a larger fight over the President's foreign assistance budget could deal a setback to those plans. On April 22, the Senate Budget Committee adopted a budget resolution for fiscal year 2011 that trims the President's budget request for the State Department and foreign assistance by $4 billion to $54.49 billion, a cut of 7 percent. Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), however, are leading a fight to restore full funding.
World Bank Announces 5-Year Plan on Reproductive Health
The World Bank has unveiled a 5-year plan to help poor countries reduce high fertility rates and maternal and infant mortality. In releasing its plan, the Bank warned that "family planning and other reproductive health programs that are vital to poor women had fallen off the development radars of many low-income countries, donor governments, and aid agencies." Under its new plan, the Bank will help 58 countries with high maternal death and fertility rates, which have remained stubbornly high for some years, improve their reproductive health systems by expanding access to modern contraceptives, training more health workers, and educating women about family planning and reproductive health. The Bank this year is expected to spend $4.1 billion this year on health systems improvements, triple the prior level.
International Day of Action for Women Observed
For more than 20 years, the International Day of Action for Women's Health has allowed USAID and other international development agencies to put the spotlight on the health care needs of women in developing countries. This year, USAID is focusing on the contribution that the Administration's Global Health Initiative is making to women's health, and putting special emphasis on the importance of family planning. Since 1965, USAID has provided women and couples in more than 60 countries with voluntary family planning programs and related health services. Today, it is reaching more than 27 million women to help them achieve their reproductive health needs.
World Observes 50th Anniversary of the Pill
This year Mother's Day coincided with the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. Numerous magazines and writers took a retrospective look at the enduring impact of the pill on women's lives. The pill was the first birth-control method that a woman could take without a man's participation. It has helped women advance in their careers and education, and has enriched their lives by giving them the power to make choices in their fertility and reproduction. But we still have a long way to go. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that more than 200 million women worldwide would like to avoid a pregnancy, but are not using the pill or other modern methods of contraception.
Women Deliver Coming to Washington
The Women Deliver conference is coming to Washington D.C. June 7-9th to focus on the theme of "Delivering Solutions for Women and Girls." Women Deliver, a global advocacy group formed at a 2007 conference, will bring together 4,000 attendees from around the world to focus on the importance of women to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the need to increase funding now, especially towards MDG5 (improving maternal health). The conference features a great list of speakers including: Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, Melanne Verveer, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, Melinda Gates, co-founder and co-chair of the Bill
Annual Global Health Conference Opens Next Month
The Global Health Council's annual conference this year is focusing on "Goals and Metrics." The conference, which is being held June 14-18 at the Omni-Shoreham in Washington, D.C., bring together more 2,500 health and development professionals from nearly 100 countries. The conference, which is designed to share best practices and the latest research, will feature Ambassador Eric Goosby, the United States Global AIDS Coordinator; Robin Gorna,the Executive Director of the International AIDS Society; and
D.A. Henderson, Professor
Kristof on Family Planning
Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist and co-author of "Half the Sky," wrote an insightful column this month (May 19, 2010) on the importance of family planning and the challenges facing women in sub-Saharan Africa. In the midst of a trip that is taking him from Liberville, Gabon to Luanda, Angola, Kristof writes that "it's easy to see firsthand how breakneck population growth is linked to poverty, instability and conflict." He notes, however, that a lack of contraceptives is not the only reason why fertility rates have remained high in some of the least developed nations in the world.