At perhaps a critical turning point in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, the U.S. government, the single largest funder in that fight, on Thursday unveiled a major new strategy
for pushing towards achieving an “AIDS-free generation”, the stated U.S. goal.
Since the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United Nations has consistently maintained that family planning is a basic human right to be exercised by all - not just the wealthy and otherwise privileged.
Thirty-year-old Shahida Saleem, who was not educated past the tenth grade, is a mother of two, living with her family in Karachi. Six months ago she suffered a miscarriage and her doctor, concerned about her anaemic condition, advised her to space out her next pregnancy by taking contraceptives.
Pressure from the Catholic Church, social stigma, a lack of information about sexuality and reproductive health and limited access to reproductive healthcare services are putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of women across Eastern Europe at risk.
“This is just a trailer of the horror that awaits us,” says noted demographer Farid Midhet, referring to Pakistan’s bulging population and the possibly corresponding link to rising crime, including murders, robberies, rioting and extremist activity.
Each year, 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth. 50,000 of them die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. And 95 percent of those births occur in developing countries.
Improving family planning to avoid unwanted pregnancies in developing countries, as well as assuring girls’ access to education, and women’s participation in the economy, are essential components of a sound development policy, according to Western experts and African activists.
It is midmorning at the Kanungu Health Centre IV and the queue of patients grows as more people start to arrive for treatment at this rural facility more than 400 kilometres outside the Ugandan capital of Kampala.
The reproductive rights agenda, from improving women’s access to education to systematic family planning to reducing birth rates and combating poverty, has become a cornerstone of most industrialised nations’ development policies toward the least developed countries (LDCs), comprised primarily of sub-Saharan African states.