Reproductive Health During COVID-19

Reproductive Health During COVID-19

Maternal health and reproductive care were already facing known disparities before COVID-19 made its impact on the world.  In 2017, more than 800 women in the world died daily from preventable pregnancy and childbirth related causes across the world (Witter, 2020). Also, at that point in time, 10 million girls ages 15-19 were experiencing unplanned pregnancies every year (Witter, 2020). So, it is to be expected that when the world faces a pandemic that causes an incline in challenges to accessing resources, that poorer health outcomes are going to be experienced amongst this same threatened group (Witter, 2020).  During a health crisis, funds are reallocated and shifted to different resources (Witter, 2020), thus having a monumental impact on an already vulnerable population. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sana Frontiérs partnered with governments around the world in an attempt to prioritize reproductive services as essential during the COVID-19 pandemic (Kuehn, 2020). The cutbacks in maternal health funds alone has the potential to lead to 113,000...
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Poland’s New Abortion Laws

Poland’s New Abortion Laws

In the past week, thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across Poland for days straight to protest the abortion ruling on October 22 by Poland’s Constitutional Court. The ruling banned all abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or cases when pregnancy poses an imminent danger to the mother’s life on the grounds that this choice is inconsistent with the constitution. More specifically, this law prohibits abortions in the cases of fetal disabilities, which accounts for 98% of the abortions performed in Poland. Amnesty International, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Human Rights Watch have condemned this ruling, stating that it violates women’s human rights and will in fact inflict harm upon the physical and/or mental health of a woman. These groups have also called upon the European Commission and EU member states to address this “breach of rule of law and [its] impact on fundamental rights in Poland” because stripping women of their reproductive...
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Reproductive Freedom Act in New Jersey

Reproductive Freedom Act in New Jersey

On October, 2, New Jersey introduced “The Reproductive Freedom Act,” which would enshrine the right to abortion and other essential reproductive health care for residents of the state. The timing of this legislation is no coincidence; the ruling came less than one month after the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In light of the fact that another conservative Justice may take Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court, this Act would protect the abortion rights outlined in the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The contents of the Reproductive Freedom Act can be condensed into three main points. First, the Act stipulates that all New Jersey residents maintain the right to make their own personal health decisions relating to birth control and pregnancy-related care; this includes the right to an abortion. Second, the legislation ensures that financial factors do not pose as barriers that would prevent anyone from making these health decisions. This would require private insurance companies...
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Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Last week, an abortion-rights bill targeted at public universities in California was passed inspired by a student-led movement at the University of California, Berkeley. If signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the next month, this legislation would mandate all on-campus health centers of California public universities to offer medication abortion by 2023. In the state of California, this legislation would therefore directly apply to 34 college campuses. Medication abortion requires taking two different pills which are approved by law to end pregnancy during the first 10 weeks. There have already been around $10.3 million dollars of donations raised privately that would go toward training staff at campus health centers and equipping the centers with proper medical devices for medication abortion. A study published in August 2018 directly analyzed California college students desire and access to medication abortion and concluded, “College students face cost, scheduling, and travel barriers to abortion care. Offering medication abortion on campus could reduce these...
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Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Last week, an abortion-rights bill targeted at public universities in California was passed inspired by a student-led movement at the University of California, Berkeley. If signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the next month, this legislation would mandate all on-campus health centers of California public universities to offer medication abortion by 2023. In the state of California, this legislation would therefore directly apply to 34 college campuses. Medication abortion requires taking two different pills which are approved by law to end pregnancy during the first 10 weeks. There have already been around $10.3 million dollars of donations raised privately that would go toward training staff at campus health centers and equipping the centers with proper medical devices for medication abortion. A study published in August 2018 directly analyzed California college students desire and access to medication abortion and concluded, “College students face cost, scheduling, and travel barriers to abortion care. Offering medication abortion on campus could reduce these...
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Three Ground-Breaking HIV Studies

Three Ground-Breaking HIV Studies

Three ground-breaking studies published in the New England Journal a few weeks ago reveal the benefits of door-to-door health workers, mobile clinics, and whole community testing in reducing the rate of new HIV infections in African Countries. The first study, the Ya T’sie trial, provided HIV testing, linkage to care, and early antiretroviral treatment to communities of Botswana; the second study, Search, focused on universal HIV treatment for communities in Uganda and Kenya; and the third study, PopART, implemented combination prevention intervention with ART in communities of Zambia and South Africa. The conclusion of these workings points to a 30 percent decrease in HIV incidence proving the success of these testing and treatment efforts. The key to the success is the idea of the “warm handoff” implemented in all three studies in which the health care workers ensured anyone who tested positive for HIV followed up at a clinic and did not forget. These studies are so important considering that...
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Healthcare in the West African nation of Mali

Healthcare in the West African nation of Mali

     The West African nation of Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries and has extremely high rates of maternal and child mortality. The WHO has approximated that costs of healthcare are a force pushing 100 million people across the globe into extreme poverty every year. So, in the area of Yirimadio during 2008, the community implemented a free door-to-door health-care plan sponsored by the government in order to ensure wellness and combat health ailments. After 7 years of the trial, the University of California collected data from the region and discovered that child mortality in the region dropped by 95%—marking the program as extremely successful. After this news, the President of Malawi announced the goal for the entire country by 2020 to have localized, free health care for pregnant women and children under the age of 5 to fight maternal and child mortality. This program will focus on training community health care workers, providing door-to-door services, and...
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The Irony of the Mexico City Policy

In his first days as President of the United States, Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy. Also known as the Global Gag Rule, the policy “gags” international NGOs receiving U.S. aid by not allowing them to “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.” First enacted by President Ronald Reagan, U.S. funding for critical reproductive healthcare abroad has been a partisan issue ever since with every Republican President instating the policy and every Democratic repealing it. President Trump’s reinstatement of the policy greatly expanded its parameters and includes a wide range of global health programs such as HIV funding through PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). The expansion of the policy diminished the provision of services by international NGOS who weren’t previously affected by the policy and who feared losing critical funding from the U.S. Last week, a study published in the Lancet found that when the Mexico City Policy is instated, rates of abortion...
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The Inaccessibility of Sexual Health Care for Disabled Women in Canada

The Inaccessibility of Sexual Health Care for Disabled Women in Canada

In Canada, standard health protocol recommends that women receive a Pap test every few years in order to detect cervical cancer as early as possible. However, health practitioners at ACCESS, a clinic in Vancouver which provides sexual health services exclusively for disabled women, have identified a significant deficit in the accessibility of such services for the demographic they serve. This inaccessibility is derived in part from a widespread lack of appropriate equipment. Many offices do not possess an accessible exam bed with a lift, preventing gynecological screening for disabled women. Additionally, many doctors, in providing care to these women, draw upon the misguided assumption that individuals with disabilities are not sexually active and thus neglect to ask their patients for a comprehensive history of their sexual health. Because this discourse does not occur, or is  not prioritized due to more immediate health issues directly relating to the disability, cervical cancer is rarely screened for amongst disabled women, and thus persists largely...
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Tumaini La Maisha Health Services Organization

Tumaini La Maisha Health Services Organization

This is a non-profit organization that works jointly with Kisumu Hospice Center established at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) on cancer projects. Breast, cervical, prostate and esophageal cancers are its focus. The Kisumu Hospice serves the local community and supports a satellite hospice center at the Siaya District Hospital. On average, the hospice aids 50 patients each month. The organization promotes cancer awareness and helps navigation through patient referall by community screening and linkage. The foundation has established an accommodation unit in Nairobi that hosts a total of six patients at a time who have been referred for radiotherapy. It has also established a school in Nyakach (Kisumu County) for vulnerable children and offers support to the school. The organization works with partners like Aga Khan Health Services, JOOTRH and Oncology Department to offer services to cancer patients. The organization takes the lead in participating in national events, organizing medical camps and community outreach programs with an aim to...
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