Trump’s global gag rule silences doctors and midwives and harms their patients

By Catharine Taylor

Catharine Taylor is Vice President for health programs at Management Sciences for Health. This post originally appeared on STAT News

Midwifery students in Sierra Leone, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Funding for safe pregnancy and delivery worldwide is threatened by President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, better known as the global gag rule, came as no surprise to anyone working in the field of global health. We have been through this before — in 1984, when the policy was first put into effect by President Reagan, and then in 1993, 2001, and 2009, when it was repealed, reinstated, and repealed again.

The Mexico City Policy is called a gag rule because it limits not just what organizations and health providers do but what they are permitted to say. It prevents foreign organizations that receive US government funding from performing abortions — even if they are using funds from non-US government sources and even if abortion is completely legal in their countries.

The global gag rule also steps right between a woman and her doctor, nurse, or midwife, preventing these frontline health providers from telling their patients about the full, legal range of health options available to them. It forbids trusted advisers from giving honest, comprehensive health advice and information. I started my career as a nurse-midwife, and then worked in maternal and newborn health programs in Africa and Asia, so I know what this will mean for the lives and health of women and their families. Continue reading “Trump’s global gag rule silences doctors and midwives and harms their patients”

LAC 2016: Reducing inequities in sexual and reproductive health among adolescents

Ariadna Capasso is senior technical advisor at the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health. 

Reducing inequities in sexual and reproductive health–especially for adolescents and youth–remains a priority focus among policymakers, healthcare practitioners, and advocates in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). In September 2016, twenty-two governments and a broad range of partners–including international and regional technical, professional, funding and research organizations, INGOs and the private sector–came together for the LAC 2016 Conference in Cartagena, Colombia. Continue reading “LAC 2016: Reducing inequities in sexual and reproductive health among adolescents”

Youth advocates share challenges with health ministers at UNGA

Anoyara Khatun speaks about working in her community to end human trafficking and child marriage. Also pictured (left to right): Patrick Mwesigye, Yemurai Nyoni, and Michalina Drejza Photo credit: J. Cook Photography
Anoyara Khatun speaks about working in her community to end human trafficking and child marriage. Also pictured (left to right): Patrick Mwesigye, Yemurai Nyoni, and Michalina Drejza (Photo by J. Cook Photography)

Youth advocates and representatives from health ministries around the world  came together September 18 to share achievements, challenges, and innovative strategies to improve the health and well-being of women, newborns, children, and adolescents. Continue reading “Youth advocates share challenges with health ministers at UNGA”

Keeping it real: Accountability for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health during the SDG era

“It’s important we ask women what’s actually happening on the ground. After all these strategies and initiatives, women are still giving birth on the floor. And they have to get their own water!” said Caroline Maposhere, a Zimbabwean nurse-midwife and civil society advocate, from the floor of the 5th Annual Breakfast for Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, September 18.

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Caroline Maposhere shares her experience working as a midwife in Zimbabwe. (Photo by J. Cook Photography)

Continue reading “Keeping it real: Accountability for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health during the SDG era”

Emergency contraception: The reproductive health innovation everyone should know about

By Elizabeth Westley and Monica Kerrigan

Elizabeth Westley leads the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception. Monica Kerrigan is a global leader in family planning and previously served at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and as a senior adviser to Family Planning 2020.

This article originally appeared on Devex.

Unintended pregnancies take a harrowing toll on women, young people, families and nations. When women are unable to decide whether and when to have children, maternal and newborn deaths rise, educational and economic opportunities are lost, families, communities and countries suffer greatly.

Global data highlights the tremendous challenge we face: 213 million pregnancies occur annually and an astonishing 40 percent — about 85 million — of these are unintended. In the United States alone, there are approximately 3 million unintended pregnancies each year, and in India, a staggering 18 million. A woman’s ability to make informed decisions about her reproductive health is one of the most basic human rights. It is a decision that can determine what kind of future she will have — and whether she will have one at all.

Emergency contraception is a unique tool for women to space and time their pregnancies. It is grossly underutilized, underfunded, and not fully optimized globally. It is the only contraceptive method that can be taken after unprotected sex and is effective for several days to prevent pregnancy. It is especially needed by women who have been sexually assaulted, who are often desperate to avoid becoming pregnant by their rapist. Continue reading “Emergency contraception: The reproductive health innovation everyone should know about”

Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Patrick Mwesigye (Uganda)

By Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

This article originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) blog.

In July 2016, global leaders gathered for the second annual Safe Mothers and Newborns Leadership Workshop hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) in partnership with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and The Aga Kahn University and sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The participants represented 26 countries from five continents.
Patrick

SMNLW participant Patrick Mwesigye is from Kampala, Uganda. He is the Founder/CEO of the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum, a community-based organization that aims to empower young women and support youth engagement. He is also the Vice President of the Africa Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development and the Chair of the PMNCH advisory group for the adolescent health knowledge summary. Continue reading “Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Patrick Mwesigye (Uganda)”

Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Dr. Joannie Bewa (Benin)

By Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

This article originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) blog.

In July 2016, global leaders gathered for the second annual Safe Mothers and Newborns Leadership Workshop hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) in partnership with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and The Aga Kahn University and sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The participants represented 26 countries from five continents.

Joannie Bewa

SMNLW participant Dr. Joannie Bewa is a medical doctor from Benin and Founder of the Young Beninese Leaders Association (YBLA). She is also a fellow of the US Government International Visitor Leadership Program and Secretary Clinton’s Women in Public Service Project as well as a semi-finalist of the “UN Special Envoy Youth of Courage Award.” Dr. Bewa was recognized as a champion for advancing sexual and reproductive health by Women Deliver in 2015 and is a member of the “Adolescent and Youth Constituency” of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). She played a pivotal role advocating for the health-related SDGs with the UNFPA Youth Panel in Benin and was featured on Melinda Gates’ list of six influential women on the topic of global access to contraception. Continue reading “Global Leaders in Maternal and Newborn Health: Dr. Joannie Bewa (Benin)”

WE DECIDE: Young persons with disabilities call for equal rights and a life free of violence

Ariadna Capasso is Senior Technical Advisor for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health.

Violence against women, including forced or coerced sex, is an epidemic that persists all over the world. But women with disabilities, often marginalized and denied their sexual and reproductive health rights, are particularly vulnerable to such abuse.

In June, UNFPA launched WE DECIDE, a global initiative to promote gender equality and social inclusion of young persons with disabilities and advocate for the end of sexual violence. The FCI Program of MSH worked with UNFPA and a broad range of partners in the field of disabilities to build consensus for the framework of the four-year initiative and to develop communications materials for the initiative, including a video and an infographic that conveys key messages and data on the status of persons with disabilities and gender-based violence.

Photo by the Spanish Cooperation (AECID)
An expert and advocate for persons with disabilities attends a strategy meeting to discuss the new WE DECIDE initiative. Photo by the Spanish Cooperation (AECID)

Continue reading “WE DECIDE: Young persons with disabilities call for equal rights and a life free of violence”

Wilson Center Event: After Copenhagen, What Next for Women and Girls?

This post originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force blog.

We are excited to announce the upcoming policy dialogue, After Copenhagen, What Next for Women and Girls? The event will take place in Washington, D.C. at The Wilson Center (and online!) on Monday, July 18, 2016. This dialogue is part of the Maternal Health Task Force’s Advancing Policy Dialogue on Maternal Health Series, in partnership with UNFPA and the Wilson Center.

In May, nearly 6,000 people focused on improving the wellbeing of women and girls met in Copenhagen for the Women Deliver conference. They shared stories of progress and hope, discussed challenges, and proposed solutions to some of the most pressing health and rights issues facing girls and women today.

Please join us as we explore ways to deliver results from the largest conference of its kind. Panelists will present in-country perspectives on key maternal health takeaways and the implications for the health and rights agenda in their countries.

Speakers

  • Alix Bacon, President, Midwives Association of British Columbia
  • Dr. Mary Nambao, Deputy Director, Mother Health, Ministry of Health in Zambia
  • Susan Papp, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Women Deliver

Moderated by Roger-Mark De Souza, Director, Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience, Wilson Center

Event Details

Register for the event here

When: Monday, July 18, 2016 from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST

Where: The Wilson Center, 5th floor conference room, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania, Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20004

Join us online! Tune in to the live webcast or view the archive after the meeting here.

Join the conversation on Twitter at @NewSecurityBeat and @MHTF and by following #MHdialogue. To find more coverage of these issues on the Wilson Center’s blog, NewSecurityBeat.org.

Melissa Wanda nominated for her achievements in reproductive health

Melissa Wanda Kirowo is Advocacy Project Officer for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health, was nominated for the 120 Under 40 Project by family planning colleagues for her substantial contributions to improving access to family planning in Kenya. The 120 Under 40 Project will select 40 reproductive health champions in 2016, 2017, and 2019 to build a roster of 120 exceptional young leaders by 2020, when the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership aims to reach 120 million additional women and girls with access to life-saving contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies. Read Melissa’s profile first appeared on 120 Under 40.