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Rwanda: MPs Agree On Abortion

By: James Karuhanga; Originally posted on allAfrica.com

Members of the Chamber of Deputies, yesterday, passed the draft Penal Code, with the majority voting in favour of an article that permits abortion under special circumstances.

The critical vote came after the House received and approved a report of an earlier established joint Chamber of deputies-Senate committee to review the bill.

Seven women MPs abstained from voting for or against Article 165, which absolves criminal liability for exceptional abortion cases, arguing it was hazardous to the Rwandan society.  Read more...

Op-Ed: Family Planning - a Force for Good Across Africa

By: Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Originally posted in The Independent (Uganda)

Last year, I visited a mother's group in the Korogocho slum in Nairobi to learn more about family planning in Africa. At the end of our conversation, a woman named Mary Ann told me something I'll never forget. She said she plans her family because she wants to "bring every good thing" to one child before she has another.

That desire to bring every good thing to our children must be universal, because it is also why my husband and I planned our family. We have three children, and we spaced them three years apart so we could give each one the attention they deserved. One billion people around the world use contraception for the very same reason. Read more...

Corporate Buzz: Merck Joins Partners in ‘Saving Mothers, Giving Life’

By Smita Gaith, Women Deliver

Merck for Mothers, an initiative of the pharmaceutical company Merck (known as MSD in some countries), will be joining forces with the United States Government, the Government of Norway, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Every Mother Counts campaign to target Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5) – to reduce maternal mortality.

According to the United Nations MDG Report 2011, most maternal deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In 2008, maternal mortality in these regions was as great as 640 per 100,000 and 280 per 100,000 live births, respectively. Read more...

Maternal and Reproductive Health Issues Take Center Stage in Africa

Leaders from 27 African countries gather at ‘African Regional Consultation on Achieving Millennium Development Goal 5’ to make the health of girls and women a regional priority

Kampala, Uganda – On 27-28 March, policymakers, advocates and researchers from across sub-Saharan Africa are gathering in Kampala, Uganda, to reaffirm national and regional commitments to Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 – reducing maternal mortality and ensuring universal access to reproductive health.

At the regional consultation, convened by Partners in Population and Development and global advocacy organization Women Deliver, leading experts will discuss lessons learned in maternal, sexual and reproductive health and identify barriers to meeting the needs of girls and women in the lead-up to the 2015 MDG target date and beyond. Read more...

It’s Time to Deliver for Girls and Women

By: Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, Regional Director of the Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office; Originally published in The Independent

A few weeks ago, on 8 March, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, which serves as a clarion call to honor girls’ and women’s contributions to their families, communities and nations. As our global population swells to over 7 billion, we must heed this call by working to ensure that every girl and woman lives a long, healthy and happy life.

Here in Africa, we are doing just that. On 27-28 March, policymakers, researchers and advocates from across the continent – including Ugandan First Lady Janet Museveni and Minister of Health Honorable Dr. Christine Ondoa – are gathering in Kampala for a regional consultation on maternal and reproductive health. At this meeting, convened by Partners in Population and Development and global advocacy organization Women Deliver, experts will discuss lessons learned, best practices and challenges for improving the health and wellbeing of girls and women. Read more...

Women, Adolescents, and Young People are Critical for Sustainable Development

By: Adeolu Ogunrombi, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders
Originally posted on Adeolu’s blog

nigeria.JPGThe truth that adolescent girls occupy the lowest rank in the hierarchy of gender power relationships and its effect on their holistic development is an issue of utmost importance and urgency. My mind went down memory lane and remembered an experience I had some years back while working with a health facility supported by the World Bank to provide care and treatment on HIV/AIDS in one of the North Central states, very close to Abuja the Federal Capital of Nigeria.

There was a time we noticed in the HIV counseling and testing unit that so many of our clients coming from a particular village within the suburb were testing positive for HIV. The incidence became of concern to me and my colleagues and we were curious to know why this was happening in a village that has little or no social infrastructure. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Farming for a Healthier Future

By: Janna Oberdorf, Director of Communications and Outreach for Women Deliver

sweet_potato.jpgAt the Tamlega Dispensary in Chwele, Kenya, pregnant women who arrive for check-ups leave with an unusual prescription: a voucher for sweetpotato vines. The goal is to leverage the untapped potential of sweetpotatoes, a food crop rich in vitamin A, to significantly improve the nutrition, incomes, and food production of farming families in sub-Saharan Africa, especially among impoverished women and children.

The project, “Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA),” was launched in eight sub-Saharan African countries in 2009 by the International Potato Center (CIP), with support from a five-year, $21 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Memo, Keep it Simple

By: Dr. Aoife Kenny, Volunteer at Women Deliver

Memo.jpgCan a memo save lives? Researchers in Kenya have found evidence that perhaps it can. A recent correspondence sent from the Kenyan Government to local health centers has increased the correct use of malaria prevention medication for pregnant women six-fold. 

50 million women become pregnant every year in countries with high rates of malarial infections. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to infection. Severe cases can be devastating and fatal, leading to complications such as premature deliveries and stillbirths, and up to 10,000 maternal deaths each year. In high-transmission areas, women are likely to be immune to infection, however their babies are not – some infants are born underweight and under-developed, causing up to 200,000 to die every year. (See the WHO and Roll Back Malaria) Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Safe Sex, HIV/AIDS, & Reproductive Health Programs Empower Kibera’s Youth

By: Lindsey Taylor Wood, Communications Associate

Found just five kilometers southwest of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, Kibera is one of the most densely populated urban settlements in the world. Of the nearly one million impoverished people inhabiting this rural area, it is estimated that 50% are under the age of fifteen, and 10-25% are infected with HIV/AIDS. To address the district’s economic instability and promote participatory development, the not-for-profit Carolina for Kibera (CFK) provides youth leadership and ethnic and gender cooperation through sports, young women's empowerment, and community development. Read on...

Corporate Buzz: Jhpiego wins $1.6M grant from GE Foundation

By: Alexander Jackson, originally posted on Baltimore Business Journal

Jhpiego.jpgA Johns Hopkins University affiliate has been awarded $1.6 million from the GE Foundation to support the development of lifesaving technologies for women and children in developing countries.

Jhpiego, a Baltimore-based international nonprofit, will use the money to create new products through its Innovation Development Program. Centered on maternal and child health, the program focuses on early-stage innovation and then, for selected projects, field-testing and product introduction. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: New Hotline for Women with Obstetric Fistula in Sierra Leone

By: Madeline Taskier, Strategic Partnerships Associate at Women Deliver 

fistula.jpgThis fall, the Aberdeen Women’s Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone is bringing hope to thousands of women affected by obstetric fistula. In October, the centre, which provides a variety of maternal and child health services, began offering a free phone hotline, follow up services, and surgery for women suffering from this debilitating condition.

Obstetric fistula, like maternal mortality, is an almost entirely preventable condition experienced by at least 2 million women in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia every year. When a woman has obstructed labor delaying delivery of her baby, a hole can form in the tissue between her bladder, vagina, and rectum causing uncontrollable leakage of feces or urine and can result in a stillborn birth. Performing surgery to repair the fistula is successful 90 percent of the time, but many women in these regions often do not have access to trained surgeons and have little knowledge of existing treatments. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: One Country’s Plant Is The Whole World’s Treasure

By: Dr. Aoife Kenny, Volunteer at Women Deliver

bamboobike.jpgWhat is stronger than steel, completely sustainable, and could transform the lives of underserved rural women and girls worldwide? The answer is Bamboo. And Ghana’s commitment to bamboo bicycles is a powerful first step in showing how resourceful this plant can be.

Access to rural transport is critical to poverty reduction and development. When unavailable, communities that can’t get their goods to market, can’t bring in new capital; nor can individuals reach new and more lucrative employment opportunities. In addition, statistics have shown that countries with the least access to rural transport have the highest maternal mortality and gender education disparity, as issues of mobility are intrinsically linked to a country’s economic growth and the global issue of climate change. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Bringing Hope and Opportunity to Kenya’s Maasai Girls and Women

By: Madeline Taskier, Strategic Partnerships Associate, Women Deliver
 
When Kakenya Ntaiya was 5 years old, she was engaged to be married. Growing up in Enoosaen, a rural Maasi village in southwestern Kenya, she helped her mother tend the farm and cattle, take care of her siblings, and gather water from the river. She rarely had the chance to attend school; only when her chores were completed.

In her village, like many others in Kenya, girls are expected to undergo female genital cutting (FGC), a coming-of-age ritual signifying womanhood at the age of puberty. After the ceremony has concluded, she is deemed ready for marriage. But Kakenya did not want to be married yet. She had dreams of going through primary and secondary school, going to college and becoming a teacher. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Hospitals and Clinics in Senegal Improve Access to Family Planning

By: Rati Bishnoi, Special Projects Intern

SenegalMother.jpgThe West African nation of Senegal has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world—with 410 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. Considering an estimated five children are born per woman, it is clear that the health and safety of women in the country greatly depend on their ability to control if and when they have children.

Despite prevailing views placing emphasis on the value of larger families, more Senegalese are choosing to space their births, have fewer children, and seek long-term family planning options, Fatou Seck, a midwife at Hospital Centre for Health and Hygiene in Medina, Senegal, recently told IRIN News. Read more...

What Care Will the Mother of the Seven Billionth Baby Receive?

By: Natalie Imbruglia, singer, actress and spokesperson for Virgin Unite and the Campaign to End Fistula; originally posted on DFID's blog here

This month, the seven billionth human being will be born. It may be a baby boy or a baby girl, it will probably be born in the developing world, and chances are good that this baby's mother will suffer complications or even a severe birth injury like obstetric fistula. Up to 45,000 women do, every day. Read more...

Speakers of African Parliaments Adopt Resolution on Declaration of Commitment to MNCH

Johannesburg, South Africa, October 24 – African Speakers of Parliaments and Presidents of Senate have unanimously adopted a landmark resolution on a Declaration of Commitment to prioritize parliamentary support for increased policy and budget action on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in African countries. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Universal Anesthetic Machine Saves Lives In Developing Countries

By: Dr. Aoife Kenny, Volunteer at Women Deliver

DRC.jpgImagine you are an expectant mother in a developing country. You know women who have died in childbirth and want to make sure both you and your child are safe. You have heard the “big” hospital has trained midwives and surgeons, so as you go into labor, you travel there.

Your labor is long, too long, and the midwife is concerned something is wrong. The pain in your belly intensifies and the midwife takes your blood pressure. It is dangerously low. You are told you are losing a lot of blood and you need to have an operation to get the baby out. You are afraid, but you trust in the hospital’s trained staff. Read more...

Corporate Buzz: Chickpeas Nourish Ethiopia’s Mothers, Children and Agricultural Economy

By: Rati Bishnoi, Special Projects Intern at Women Deliver

chickpeas.jpgCould chickpeas be a potential solution for meeting two of Ethiopia’s biggest challenges: child malnourishment and an underperforming economy?

PepsiCo, the World Food Programme (WFP), and USAID believe so. That’s why the company is entering into an innovative public-private partnership with the WFP and USAID to promote food and economic security in the east African nation. Under Enterprise EthioPEA, the three organizations will work with nearly 10,000 Ethiopian farmers to double chickpea yields by utilizing modern agricultural practices and better irrigation techniques. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Meeting the Reproductive Needs of Refugee Women

By: Rati Bishnoi, Special Projects Intern

Somali_Women.jpgIn 2008, while attempting to escape fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Fadhumo* fled the city with two of her seven children. After seeking shelter in the Bariga Bosasso refugee settlement, she was eventually reunited with her sister and remaining children.

Security was limited, however, and the then-pregnant Fadhumo was raped by two men. “I tried to fight them off but they were much stronger. They beat me viciously, breaking both my wrists. They raped me repeatedly without caring that I was pregnant,” Fadhumo told the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). As a result of the rape, Fadhumo lost her unborn child and fell into a deep depression. Her ability to support herself or her other children diminished. Thankfully, Fadhumo is now rebuilding her life, has re-launched her grocery business and joined a support group for rape survivors. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Dairy Cooperative Empowers Tanzania’s HIV Population

By: Lindsey Taylor Wood, Communications Associate at Women DeliverTanzania_Cow.jpg

Nearly 730,000 women are living with HIV in Tanzania. Among them is 61-year old Faith. One of 1,600 women and men participating in the “Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB)” training program, Faith now has access to the entrepreneurial skills-building and HIV awareness-raising activities the program provides.

“I learnt that you need money or a business to generate enough income to be able to travel to town for regular check-ups and to collect antiretroviral drugs. We do not have these services at our village dispensary,” said Faith. Read more...

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