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UN: $750 Million Needed to Treat Obstetric Fistula

Last Monday, October 11th, the United Nations released a report entitled "Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula" which estimates that $750 million will be needed to treat existing and new cases of obstetric fistula occurring between now and 2015. 

Despite being almost entirely preventable when universal and equitable access to quality maternal and reproductive health services exists, the Lancet has reported that at least 2 million and as many as 3.5 million women suffer from obstetric fistula.  According to the World Health Organization, adolescent girls are especially vulnerable, and their risk for maternal mortality is two to five times greater than that faced by women in their twenties. Read more...

Blog Action Day: Water and Maternal Health

By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliver brazil_women_water.jpg

Today is Blog Action Day and this year’s topic is water. What does safe water have to do with maternal health? A lot. To significantly improve maternal, newborn, and reproductive health, it requires access to quality care for pregnancy and childbirth. Safe health care requires safe water, as well as basic sanitation and waste management. Infections directly contribute to 36% of newborn deaths and sepsis accounts for 15% of maternal deaths in developing countries. If a hospital lacks adequate plumbing, or a village experiences a water shortage, it makes women and children especially vulnerable to the destructive effects of unsafe water. Contact with unsafe water can result in exposure to a wide variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites and therefore can result in waterborne disease, and in some cases, death. Diarrhea weakens pregnant women’s immune systems and results in morbidity and mortality among infants and children under 5. 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.

Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) Awarded for Humanitarian Design

Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) has been awarded the 2010 Curry Stone Design Prize for development of a locally produced and distributed sanitary pad that enhances women’s dignity and allows better access to education and occupation. In numerous developing countries, the stigma of menstruation is exacerbated by the lack of adequate, affordable sanitary devices, often keeping girls and women away from school and work for days or even weeks during a year. SHE’s goal is to tackle this taboo in a multi-faceted, “quilt-like” approach involving advocacy and education, as well as the promotion of a local business model based on the sustainably designed pad.

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.

Celebrate Solutions: Midwives and Misoprostol in Afghanistan

Afghan.jpgBy: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliver

Badakhshan Province along the Northern border of Afghanistan is an impoverished, isolated, and remote mountainous region. There are few passable roads, and areas of unrest, making it dangerous to get health care, and difficult to get help to villages. The region is experiencing some of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. But Afghans are trying to change that. The solution? Midwives. NPR reported August 29 on the impact of an initiative to recruit and train midwives in rural Afghanistan. Read more...

The Girl Effect: The Clock is Ticking

Girleffect.org tells the story of girls creating a ripple impact of social and economic change on their families, communities and nations. Launched a few years ago, this compelling video showed the world the power of investing in girls. Last week, at the Clinton Global Initiative, the Girl Effect launched a new video that builds on the original message, and discusses important issues like child marriage and early pregnancy for adolescent girls.

The Launch of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health

Yesterday, the Aspen Institute launched the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, and issued a call for resolve: Universal Reproductive Health Access by 2015. The Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health is a group of sixteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders committed to advancing reproductive health for lasting development and prosperity. Chaired by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, these leaders will mobilize the political will and financial resources necessary to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015 – a key target of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Read more...

The Clock is Ticking: Make Every Woman Count

clock.JPGBy: Joanna Hoffman, Program Associate for Women Deliver

As delegates to the UN summit rush between meetings and announce their country’s commitments towards reaching the MDGs, they are coming face to face with the stark reminder of maternal mortality in the form of a “maternal death clock” in Times Square. Amnesty International activated the clock yesterday morning to highlight the staggering consequences of MDG 5’s lack of sufficient progress to date- every 90 seconds, a woman dies in childbirth. In a year, 358,000 mothers die throughout the world.  99% of deaths occur in developing countries, and the majority of these deaths are preventable.

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.

New Reports Show Regional Disparities Exist for Mexican Women

Two new studies released by the Guttmacher Institute showcase new research on maternal health issues in Mexico. The reports, “Addressing Adolescent Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities,” and “Barriers to Safe Motherhood in Mexico,” (reports available in Spanish only) discuss sub-national data on access to sexual and reproductive health resources and maternal mortality rates. Read more...

10 Ways to Celebrate International Year of Youth

Today, August 12, 2010, is International Youth Day. Its a day to celebrate the power of young people to make positive change for their communities, countries, and the world. Even bigger, today kicks off the International Year of Youth. There are lots of ways you can get involved over the next few months, and year. Click through to read 10 actions you can take right now...

New Report Details Rights Abuses Stemming From Philippine Abortion Ban

The Center for Reproductive Rights released a new report, "Forsaken Lives: The Harmful Impact of the Philippine Criminal Abortion Ban," which illustrates the harmful consequences of the Philippine ban on abortion from a human rights perspective. By criminalizing abortion, the report states, the government has severely curtailed the reproductive rights of Filipino women and forces them to resort to dangerous alternatives. Despite the ban, each year, an estimated 560,000 clandestine abortions occur in the Philippines, 90,000 women suffered complications requiring hospitalization, and 1,000 women died.

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.

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...]

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...]

G20 Leaders Agree to Discuss International Development Issues

By: Janna Oberdorf, Communications Manager for Women Deliver

On Sunday, the G20 Summit, a group of government leaders from 20 countries, followed up on the outcomes of the G8 meetings the day before that promised $7.3 billion to maternal and child health. The G20 usually focuses on matters pertaining to the international financial system, while the G8 talks about broader development issues like solving global poverty. For the first time ever, the G20 agreed to set up a working group on international development issues, giving itself a formalized a role in helping poor countries.

There were two key paragraphs that will affect the maternal and child health communities in the communiqué that was released by the G20...

Promising Steps Toward International Women’s Health

By: Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, originally posted on The Huffington Post

While the World Cup has united people around TV sets across the world over the past weeks, another more radical act of global unity took place. This past weekend the world's leading governments came together and talked about women. For the first time the Group of 8's annual summit, which took place in Canada's tourist and wine region of Muskoka, Ontario, elevated the importance of women and girls on the world stage by making maternal and child health the flagship commitment of its development agenda. This new commitment to women and children rightly aims to broadly address these health needs, and includes family planning among the essential health interventions for women.

G8 Communiqué Commits to Maternal Health, Child Health, and Family Planning; Safe Abortion Absent

By: Janna Oberdorf, Communications Manager for Women Deliver

The G8 leaders have released their communiqué, the consensus reached during the last two days of discussions. As we’ve blogged about over the past days, Canada placed maternal and child health at the forefront of the G8 discussion. As the communiqué states:

“Progress towards MDG 5, improving maternal health, has been unacceptably slow. Although recent data suggests maternal mortality has been declining, hundreds of thousands of women still lose their lives every year, or suffer injury, from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Much of this could be prevented with better access to strengthened health systems, and sexual and reproductive health care and services, including voluntary family planning. Progress on MDG 4, reducing child mortality, is also too slow. Nearly 9 million children die each year before their fifth birthday. These deaths profoundly concern us and underscore the need for urgent collective action. We reaffirm our strong support to significantly reduce the number of maternal, newborn and under five child deaths as a matter of immediate humanitarian and development concern. Action is required on all factors that affect the health of women and children. This includes addressing gender inequality, ensuring women’s and children’s rights and improving education for women and girls."

Read more...

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