Daily Digests: Postpartum Family Planning Global Meeting

From June 7-11, FP2020, in technical partnership with Jhpiego, hosted 175 participants from 20 countries to accelerate efforts on the implementation of postpartum family planning (PPFP).  Forty presenters from around the world discussed state-of-the-art technical knowledge and programming experience in PPFP. Interactive learning sessions, small working groups and country-specific action plans for PPFP were developed over the course of the week.

Catch up on the action with FP2020’s daily digests, which highlight key moments, fast facts and resources:

FP2020 Executive Director Beth Schlachter: A Community United in the Face of Uncertainty

Less than three months into 2017, political transitions at the global and country levels signal changes to the international development framework that will, at best, prove challenging to the global health community, including family planning, and sexual and reproductive health and rights writ large.  The U.S. government’s recent reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy (also known as the Global Gag Rule), which looks to be significantly broader than anything we have seen before, is the latest of such changes, but we can anticipate it won’t be the last.

We’re honored that the FP2020 partnership has become a convening point for the movement as implementing partners, civil society actors, international organizations, governments, and donors have turned to this platform to share ideas, concerns, and strategies for moving forward in the new landscape.

Many partners are collectively taking positive steps to protect gains in family planning, including bringing the global community together to share information and strengthen global ties so that people – be they in Nairobi, Brussels, Abidjan, London, or Manila – understand the changes and are equipped to manage them. 

So, while 2017 is proving to be a year of change and some uncertainty, it also sees the community better coordinated, using improved data and evidence for decision-making, and more knowledgeable than ever before about country-specific goals, operating and financial environments, political will, and persistent challenges. 

Over the years, the family planning community has confronted many challenges and has not only prevailed, but grown stronger. We at FP2020 are committed to supporting this community to remain inspired, coordinated, aligned, and focused as we adapt to this shifting landscape to realize our 2020 goals and help set the world on course to achieve the SDGs.

Statement From UN Foundation President & CEO Kathy Calvin on New Restrictions of U.S. Foreign Assistance to Limit Women’s Access to Health Care Globally

Washington, D.C. —   January 23, 2017

United Nations Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin today issued the following statement on the imposition of the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, last enacted in 2001.  

The policy, enacted again today through Executive action, prohibits foreign non-governmental organizations from receiving any U.S. foreign assistance for family planning if they provide information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or lobby for abortion. U.S. law already prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance to pay for abortion information and services as a method of family planning. Therefore, organizations that provide abortion information or services do so with non-U.S. government funding. The enactment of the Global Gag Rule means organizations that provide abortion information or services or lobby for abortion cannot receive any U.S. foreign assistance, even for their non-abortion work, including providing voluntary family planning services and reproductive health care. Calvin said:   

“The United Nations Foundation does not support the Global Gag Rule, which jeopardizes the health and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable girls and women.  

“This action will do more than change policy; it will make it more difficult for millions of girls and women to access the contraception and health care they need to determine their futures. When the policy was last enacted, health care clinics in many countries were forced to close and outreach services for the hardest to reach populations were eliminated, leaving many of the world’s poorest people without access to critical services, such as maternal and child health care, HIV testing and counseling, and contraceptives, including condoms. Without these life-saving services, more women and infants died due to pregnancy-related complications. In some countries, the Global Gag Rule led to increases in abortions as women had more unintended pregnancies. 

“The Global Gag Rule also runs counter to long-standing bipartisan support in Congress and in the American public for U.S. leadership in providing voluntary family planning services to women and couples around the world who want it. 

“U.S. funding for voluntary family planning programs globally has allowed girls to stay in school, pursue jobs, and have children if and when they are ready. It has helped to improve maternal and child health, decrease unintended pregnancies, lower HIV infection rates, and reduce poverty. Still, more than 225 million women worldwide who want to delay or avoid pregnancy are not using modern contraception and need our support. 

“Now is the time to build on progress, not reverse it. The United Nations Foundation stands ready to work with the new U.S. Administration to continue America’s leadership in improving health around the world. Access to reproductive health care, including contraception, is a human right and enables girls and women to plan their lives, climb out of poverty, and achieve a more sustainable future.”


About the United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by philanthropic, corporate, government, and individual donors. Learn more at: www.unfoundation.org.

PPAG poised to reduce incidence of teenage pregnancy

The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) has stated that it is working hard to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy in the country in the coming years.

It said the decision was in line with the organisation’s policy to promote the physical and mental health of families, especially the youth, through positive sexual behaviour.

The National President of PPAG, Professor Rita Akosua Dickson, made this known in an interview with the media after paying a courtesy call on the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi as Asanteman mourned and prepared for the burial of the Asantehemaa, Nana Afia Serwaa Kobi Ampem II.

As custom demands, she led a delegation to present two cartons of Schnapps, four bottles of whisky and an undisclosed amount to support the burial arrangements for the Asantehemaa.

Prof. Akosua Dickson noted that though the Asantehene was mourning his mother and Asantehemaa, he remained committed to youth development as the Patron of PPAG.

She thanked the Asantehene for his immense contribution and goodwill for the organisation and said PPAG was renewing its partnership with Manhyia Palace to roll out a number of plans for youth development.

She observed that teenage pregnancy was ‘sprinting’ and said efforts must be put in place to check it, adding that the PPAG’s training programmes on pastries, tie-dye, among other skills, would be held in course of the year.

Knowledge on sexual reproductive health

She said boys and girls needed to broaden their horizons on their sexual and reproductive health and rights so as to remain health conscious all the time.

She added that the PPAG was putting measures in place to ensure that the youth would have access to information and services on reproductive health.

“We at PPAG want to make these services and information friendly and accessible to as many youth as possible in the country,” she emphasised.

Advocacy in preventing STDs

The PPAG’s National President said in line with its advocacy for the less privileged, the organisation was collaborating with the 43 prisons in the country to prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

Catch Them Young, Keep Them Healthy For Life

We have close to 236.5 million adolescents in India today. This young generation, aged between 10 and 19 years, is the future of this country. They will drive our economic growth and social development in the decades to come and take us down the road to prosperity, provided we ensure that their health and wellbeing becomes and remains a top national priority.

Adolescence is a critical stage in life during which the foundation for adulthood and future health is set. This is the time when young people are seeking autonomy and greater control over their lives. Undoubtedly, it is a unique opportunity for us to encourage and reinforce positive health-seeking behaviours in this demographic. 

Adolescence is characterised by one of the most significant changes in an individual’s life: puberty. This has biological, physiological and emotional implications. We need to show young adults how to manage these changes and guide them to ensure that they are protected against a number of diseases and can build a strong foundation for future health. The latest addition to this list are non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Many Indians are genetically predisposed to non-communicable diseases, so they pose an even bigger threat. NCDs include cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Every year, approximately 5.8 million Indians die from NCDs. A large number of these deaths can be prevented altogether, if the foundation for a healthy lifestyle is laid during adolescence.

The Next Frontier in Global Financing: High-Impact Health Solutions for Women and Children

Merck announced its $10 million commitment to the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in support of Every Woman Every Child to improve maternal and child health in low- and lower-middle-income countries worldwide through Merck for Mothers.

The GFF, launched by then U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim in July 2015, is a multi-stakeholder partnership that supports country-led efforts to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals related to maternal and child health. The GFF goal is to prevent an estimated 3.8 million maternal deaths, 101 million child deaths, and 21 million stillbirths by 2030.

The health of women, children and adolescents is not just a concern for the public sector and NGOs. Preventing maternal mortality, in particular, requires a multi-sector approach. This commitment emphasizes the value of public-private partnerships as an effective tool to address complex health challenges, and the value of innovative financing in helping countries make results-focused investments to improve the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents for the long term.

“Women are the cornerstone of a healthy and prosperous world. When a woman survives pregnancy and childbirth, her family, community and nation thrive,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “Our partnership with the GFF demonstrates how the private sector can play a unique role in helping to improve maternal and child health worldwide. We look forward to contributing our resources and expertise to the GFF and its partner organizations to work toward the common goal of ending preventable maternal and child deaths.”

Merck’s commitment advances the mission of Merck for Mothers. The contribution will be used for innovative financing and public-private partnerships to scale up high-impact interventions to help women and children survive and thrive during pregnancy and childbirth. In addition to financial support, Merck will provide business expertise to strengthen this partnership.

Merck is joined by GFF partners including the World Bank Group; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the United Nations; and the governments of Canada, Norway, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Dakar call for action

In 29th November 2016, the delegates assembled in Dakar, Senegal for 13th International Inter-Ministerial Conference of PPD on Priority Population and Development Challenges in the Context of SDGs reaffirmed their willingness and commitments; to accord highest urgency to post 2014 ICPD engagement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) achievement through redoubled efforts to collectively address the priority population and development challenges in the context of SDGs. As an output document of the conference Dakar call for Action was adopted.

Please find below the link of the Dakar call for Action.
[ English ] [ French ]

Act now to stop maternal health violations

Last week, news broke of a pregnant woman who was turned away from a public hospital and as a result lost her baby due to the delay in getting medical attention.

While this woman’s story sparked national outrage, the mistreatment of pregnant women seeking maternal health care is a common occurrence throughout Kenya, which is only exacerbated by the current doctors’ strike.

This woman was denied medical attention at Pumwani Maternity Hospital, Nairobi, a facility that has been in the news previously for the mistreatment of women.

In 2012, two women, Margaret and Maimuna, were illegally detained at the hospital for their inability to pay their hospital bills. They were subjected to physical, mental and verbal abuse. Both women sued the hospital and the government for human rights violations. As a result, in 2015, the High Court of Kenya ordered the Ministry of Health to stop the discrimination and abuse experienced by women in public hospitals, and Nairobi County to compensate Margaret and Maimuna for the violation of their rights.

Margaret and Maimuna represent scores of women across the country, but most of them are never able to access justice for violations of their rights.

The Constitution states that every person has a right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes reproductive health services. And even though President Uhuru Kenyatta mandated that public health facilities provide free, universal maternal health services in 2013, pregnant women are still routinely denied admission.

Gov’t secures sh450b loan to fight maternal, child mortality

Government has secured a loan of over sh450b from World Bank through Global Financing Facility to support the Every Woman Every Child program to help end maternal and child mortality.

The programme which begins in the next five years is designed to provide transport for women in distant places to deliver from health centres and also motivate the health workers.

Dr. Ruth Aceng the Minister of Health said the benefiting health centres will receive the funds basing on results of the deliveries conducted and children treated safely.

Aceng added that the money will not be for personal issues but to improve on the equipment, and the infrastructure of the health centres.

“The other aspect is to support districts that have health facilities that are poorly performing and the infrastructure is bad. This is given to them to so that they can build themselves to a level where they are able to handle results based financing” the minister added.

The minister made the remarks during the national launch of meningitis vaccination for the 39 districts from in the African meningitis belt that covers greater north. The event was held at Lalogi sub county headquarters in Omoro district on Tuesday.

Vaccination will commence on Thursday to Monday for all people in the age bracket of 1-29 years.

She conceded that the ministry has failed to lower maternal mortality because of high teenage pregnancy with northern and eastern Uganda leading in the country.

According to the recent demographic health survey, death during delivery in Uganda stands at 438 per 100,000 live births with the biggest contribution from teenage pregnancy.

“Some girls of eight years are getting pregnant. In olden days this was an abomination, which is no longer the case. Men are now taking it normal,” she added.

Aceng noted if girls with immature bodies are subjected to motherhood, they become a liability to the government because they don’t have the potential to be economically productive in the society.

The deputy speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah asked parents to teach their children well as was the case in the past.

Oulanyah who is also the area Member of Parliament said men producing with young girls also feel embarrassed to escort their “partners” for antenatal care.

“District councils must come out with bylaws. This is a problem of seeing little children carrying babys of mature men,” he said.

“Respect children, girls please keep safe. This tendency of moving up and down looking for what you don’t know should stop,” he added.

Dr. Tarande Manzila Constant the World Health Organisation representative at the function said of the global cases caused by meningitis type A, 90% of them occur in African continent.

He added that even when there’s vaccination and care, at least 10% of the affected people die of the epidemic while 20% of the survivors develop serious prominent health problems.

Restoring reproductive health access for millions in Boko Haram-affected areas

A brutal attack by Boko Haram forced Zainab Abubakar, 28, and her six children to flee their home in northern Nigeria. “I was one month pregnant when I left Gamboru Ngala,” Ms. Abubakar told UNFPA from the Dalori displacement camp in Maiduguri. “During my escape, I lost my pregnancy.”

Ms. Abubakar’s tragic miscarriage took place in 2014, but the Boko Haram crisis continues to drive women and girls from their homes – and from access to basic health care.

An estimated 26 million people live in conflict-affected areas of Nigeria, according to the 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview, and some 14 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. In the three states worst affected by the insurgency – Adamawa, Borno and Yobe – some 1.64 million people have been displaced from their homes, according to recent UN reports.

UNFPA estimates that, among the vulnerable population, 1,725,000 women of reproductive age will require life-saving reproductive health services in 2017.

“For women and girls – especially pregnant women, who may face life-threatening childbirth complications, as well as lactating women, caring for newborns throughout the chaos – whether they live or die in a crisis often depends on their access to basic sexual and reproductive health services,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of UNFPA, during a recent mission to northern Nigeria.

Makeshift justice the only recourse for ill-protected women at South Sudan camp

It is late afternoon when the white Jeep pulls up outside a compound attached to one of the largest camps for families fleeing South Sudan’s civil war. Accompanied by two UN police officers, a woman steps out and walks briskly past a rusty shipping container holding the man who allegedly raped her less than 24 hours earlier.

In a country where UN investigators say sexual violence remains ignored despite having reached “epic proportions” – one survey found 70% of women in such camps said they had been raped since conflict erupted in December 2013 – this is a rare example of action being taken.

The alleged incident illustrates not just the bleak reality facing women at the sprawling Malakal protection of civilians (PoC) camp, but also the shortcomings of international peacekeepers and the makeshift nature of justice at what is supposedly a place of safety for 33,000 people.

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