Deaths from Unsafe Abortion Decrease, But Unsafe Abortions On the Rise

Researchers Iqbal Shah and Elisabeth Ahman of the World Health Organization report in the current issue of Reproductive Health Matters that the number of women dying from unsafe abortion has decreased by approximately one-third, from 67,000 in 2003 to 47,000 in 2008. However, the number of unsafe abortions has increased from 19.7 million in 2003 to 21.6 in 2008. WHO explains this increase as due to a greater number of women of reproductive age (15-44) living throughout the world. Read more...

International Development Journalism Competition Focuses on Women’s Issues

The Guardian International Development Journalism competition, supported by Marie Stopes International, announced the winners of the 2010 competition last week. The goal of this journalism competition is to generate articles that will help to raise awareness with the general public on the need for continued investment in international development and support for the Millennium Development Goals. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Community Health Workers in Uganda

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliver

uganda.JPGFive days after twin bombings hit the capital city of Uganda in July, the annual African Union Summit converged world leaders to discuss the theme of maternal and infant health, highlighting the issue of political instability and civil unrest in relation to development issues. While Uganda has made progress in improving maternal health, meeting MDG 5 will require a steep decline from 550 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2005, to 131 in 2015. It remains a daunting task, but Uganda has implemented a number of interventions aimed at improving maternal and child health and increased government funding towards such projects. Read more...

Special Delivery: Maternal Mortality in Tanzania Feature Article in Ms. Magazine

The new issue of Ms. Magazine hit newstands today and includes a great feature article on maternal mortality in Tanzania. Ms. has been a wonderful vehicle for putting a spotlight on Maternal Health, and participated at the Women Deliver 2010 conference. This article is the third in a Ms. series on maternal mortality and the efforts being made to save women’s lives. Read more...

New Publications on Contraceptive Use, Access, Abortion, Early Marriage, and Youth

From contraceptive use in Cambodia and Central America and issues of access in Kenya and around the globe, to abortion trends and practices in India and Nigeria and early marriage and reproductive health outcomes in India, to youth policy and services from the WHO European Region - click through to find a variety of new research studies and publications.

Celebrate Solutions: Training and Mobile Health Technology in Rwanda

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliverrwanda_mother.jpg

How did a small landlocked country recovering from genocide become a model for development in Africa? With clear objectives and investment in technological innovation, Rwanda is making significant progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals 5 and 4. The Rwanda Ministry of Health is working together with partners to improve maternal and child health. From 2000 to 2005, maternal mortality rates decreased from 1,071 to 750 per 100,000, and efforts are being bolstered to continue progress. Read more...                                                                                                                                                 

Empty Handed: Responding to the Demand for Contraceptives

Empty Handed tells the story of women’s lack of access to reproductive health supplies in sub-Saharan Africa, and its impact on their lives. It documents the challenges at each level of the supply chain and identifies key areas for improvement. Watch the film here, visit the website, and click through to learn more.

Dr. Fred Sai Speaks Out and Releases His Memoirs

The distinguished Ghanaian physician Fred Sai has devoted his entire career to issues of health and reproductive rights. He is best known for drawing attention to the food and nutrition problems of Africa – particularly in connection to children – and is an internationally recognized authority on health, nutrition, population and family planning. He was also the honorary co-chair of the Women Deliver 2010 conference, where he spoke on the issues affecting girls and women around the world. Now, he has released his memoirs in a book called, With Heart and Voice: Fred Sai Remembers.

A Silent Phenomenon Spreads HIV

By: Robert Mukondiwa, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders, and journalist in Zimbabwe, originally posted at Conversations for a Better World

Young sex workers in rural Zimbabwe have embarked on a fatal path that increases their likelihood of contracting and spreading HIV. Poverty and a lack of information intensify the problem, but instead of embracing the challenge with effective solutions, many are turning away in denial... Read more of Robert's story and join the conversation.

Stigma and Discrimination Surrounding HIV/AIDS

By: Angella Musiimenta, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders, from Uganda; orginally posted at Conversations for a Better World

A young woman in Uganda contracts HIV/AIDS and faces relentless prejudice that alters every aspect of her life. She is only one of the millions of young people whose physical challenges are multiplied by the cruelties of social discrimination. Read Angella's blog and discuss how stigma affects young women.

Many Hands: How to Reach HIV Positive Youth

By: Diana Sera, one of Women Deliver's 100 Young Leaders and Monitoring & Evaluation Manager of Northern Uganda Malaria AIDS & Tuberculosis Program (NUMAT). Originally posted at Conversations for a Better World.

HIV positive youth encounter profound and varied challenges. We say we want to help, yet we continually let them down when we don’t provide the services they need. It’s a growing problem without a single solution. NUMAT is one of many organizations that is serving the underserved through a layered approach that supports, nurtures and strengthens the youth whose lives have been redefined by HIV.

Ten years ago, I took an HIV test. I was motivated to take the test because I lost my closest relative to HIV. Knowing my own HIV status has empowered me to make informed decisions about my life and to reach out to my family and peers to encourage them to get tested early too. While at school, some of my peers were HIV positive and faced a number of challenges, including stigma and discrimination, and many didn’t know how to find youth-friendly HIV services. All of the above inspired me to join an organization that aims to fulfill the needs of HIV positive youth. Read more...

African Leaders Agree on Ways Forward on Maternal and Child Health

KAMPALA, Uganda — The high-level debate on “Promoting Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa,” ended with an agreement by Africa’s leaders on an action plan to kick-start the effective implementation of existing resolutions and decisions on maternal, infant and child health in the continent.

Renewing Our Promises to Protect Women’s Health

By: Jotham Musinguzi and Jill Sheffield; originally posted at Modern Ghana and Daily Monitor (Uganda)

Over the past few years, Africa has shown admirably strong leadership in an area that is critical to this continent’s advancement: women’s health. From increasing the number of pregnant HIV positive women on anti-retroviral drugs, to ensuring that women are accompanied by skilled caregivers when they give birth, the continent is working hard to demonstrate commitment and progress on this important issue.

Women are the thread that weaves this continent together. They drive local economies and run households. In Africa, they operate the majority of small businesses and farms. Much of our wives’, mothers’ and sisters’ incomes go to our families’ food, medicine, and education. Investing in women is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.

No Woman Should Die Giving Life

By Njeri Mwangi-Kinyoho, East Africa regional advisor, Advocacy and Justice for Children - World Vision International; originally posted at Daily Monitor (Uganda)

The 15th Ordinary Session of the Summit of the Africa Union will be taking place in Kampala, Uganda between July 19 – 27, 2010. The theme of the Summit is “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa”. Unsurprisingly, this theme is the same as that of the just concluded G8/20 Summit in Canada whose outcomes fell well below the expectations of developing countries in terms of commitment on increased aid particularly in the areas of maternal, newborn and child health.

The Maternal Health Task Force Announces New Grants

The Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth announced today that it has awarded eight new grants supporting innovative maternal health research across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The research, which will be carried out by local organizations in developing countries, will lead to national policy recommendations for improving maternal health.

Each research project will evaluate an ongoing effort to advance maternal health in places where too many women still die from preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Examples of such projects include integrating maternal health care with HIV prevention and treatment, organizing support groups for pregnant mothers, and outfitting health workers in rural communities with cellular phones to facilitate emergency care for pregnant women. Following are summaries of the new grants...

Tragedy in Uganda and a Rare Opportunity to Deliver for Africa’s Women

By: Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver, originally posted at The Huffington Post

These past few weeks especially, Kampala has been on my mind. Not least because of the senseless attacks that took place there last week. The injustice of terrorism is confounding, and it is a tragedy that innocent people pay the price. But Kampala is on my mind also because, amidst the grief over recent events there is an amazing opportunity. The city is host to the 15th African Union Summit.

The theme of this year's Summit, building on the momentum of Women Deliver and the G8 Summit in the past months, is "maternal, infant, and child health and development in Africa." I cannot imagine a more important theme for a meeting in Africa, taking place at a more momentous time. Millions of women across Africa still struggle to realize their rights and live healthy, fulfilled lives beneath the burdens of poverty, sexual violence and unplanned pregnancies. [Read more...]

New Microbicide Gel May Allow Women to Protect Themselves

A new study shows that topical application of a microbicide before and after sex reduced transmission of HIV by 39% and transmission of herpes by 51%, according to an article published in Science magazine. Those who used the gel most regularly reduced their chances of HIV infection by 54%. Unlike other microbicides, which have been shown to be ineffective, this new product contains tenofovir, an anti-retroviral medication used to treat HIV/AIDS patients.

Civil Society Organizations Statement to the Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union

The 15th African Union (AU) Summit began Monday 19 July 2010 in Kampala, Uganda. The summit is addressing various issues, including health, infrastructure and food security. It will also tackle security concerns in Somalia. Pre Summit, members of African Civil Society, comprising organizations working on maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation, gender, youth, human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development issues in Africa, met to discuss issues affecting Maternal, Infant and Child Health Development in Africa. The Pre Summit was organized by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC).

The result of the Pre Summit meetings was a statement by the civil society organizations delivered to the 15th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union calling upon African Governments to work towards improving the health of women. It asks that they enact policies, strengthen health and community systems and accountability mechanisms, increase resources for health, integrate previous commitments, and more, to accelerate the attainment of the MDG. Read the statement here.

Youth Action: Delivering A Better Future For Women And Girls

By: Ernestine B. Greaves, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders

Globally, we now have the largest generation of youth in history: more than 1.2 billion young people are between 10 and 19 years old. We are the future. Yet our future is uncertain if our health systems and health services continue to fail this generation, and the next.

It’s an unfortunate truth that one woman, every minute, dies from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth around the world. This is also the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 in developing countries. Unplanned pregnancy rates continue to be high across the world, and of the 13% of maternal deaths worldwide due to unsafe abortions, almost half of those are aged under 19. The challenges of pregnancy and childbirth threaten young women’s lives every single day. 

Now is the time to deliver for these women. As her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attends the Summit of the African Union, she must take action on maternal health and protect and promote the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.

Letter to the African Heads of State (Sign Your Name!)

It is a simple truth: The Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved in Africa without addressing sexual and reproductive health. In 2006, recognizing that women and girls deliver enormous social and economic benefits to their families, communities, and nations, the African Union boldly adopted a short-term plan to achieve the MDGs and save women’s lives in their continent: The Maputo Plan of Action. You understood the needs and realities of your countries, you came together, and you adopted a plan that moved sexual and reproductive health higher on Africa’s political agenda. We commend you for taking the lead in addressing sexual and reproductive health, including maternal health and family planning.

Now, the Maputo Plan of Action is about to expire, and we’re calling on you to reenergize your efforts to achieve the goals that you set in 2006. It’s time to build on the legacy of the Maputo Plan, and to move forward with renewed determination to save the lives of millions of women and girls. [Read more...]

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