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New York Times Editorial, Opinion Piece Examine Impact Of Abstinence-Only Programs

A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute examining teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion rates "suggests the wisdom" of President Obama's decision to "redirect sex-education financing from an abstinence-only approach to broader, more-effective programs that provide information to young people about contraceptives, pregnancy and sexually transmitted [infections], " a New York Times editorial states. According to the Times, the study found that the pregnancy rates among teens ages 15 through 19 rose by 3% from 2005 to 2006, marking "a troubling departure after more than a decade of declining teenage pregnancy." The study found a 1% increase in the teenage abortion rate "for the first time in more than a decade, " the editorial says.

Also In Global Health News: Pakistan's Farm Land; PMTCT In Kenya; Burkina Faso's Maternal Health; Health Care Access In Middle East

Pakistan Moves Forward On Plans To Sell Farmland To Foreign Investors Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Tuesday the country plans to sell farmland to foreign investors despite warnings by the U.N. that doing so could compromise farmers' rights, Reuters reports. Qureshi defended the government's decision, saying that the land being sold was not in use and agriculture revenues would benefit the population. "[E]very dollar invested in agriculture creates more jobs than any other sector, and I can openly say that agriculture development is the key to alleviating poverty in Pakistan, " he said (Bakr, 1/27). Kenya Launches Initiative To Reduce Mother-To-Child Transmission Of HIV Kenya on Tuesday launched its Campaign to End Pediatric HIV/AIDS, a three-year initiative aimed at reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV and scaling up treatment for those infected, Capital News reports (Karong'o, 1/26).

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Next Summer's G-8 Summit To Focus On Maternal, Child Health, Canadian Prime Minister Says

"As president of the G-8 in 2010, Canada will champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world's poorest regions, " Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper writes in a Toronto Star editorial. Canada will lay out its plans as president of the G-8 and host of June's G-20 summit when global leaders meet this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Harper says. According to Harper, "The world's poor have been hit hardest by the global economic downturn, and in these difficult times we must address their pressing needs." He continues, "Each year, it is estimated that 500, 000 women lose their lives during pregnancy or childbirth, " adding that "an astonishing nine million children die before their fifth birthday.

Haitian Earthquake Creates Especially Dire Situation For Pregnant Women, Children

In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, nearly 37, 000 pregnant Haitian women face difficulties securing food, clean drinking water and access to health services, according to Frank Geneus, the director of health programs in Haiti for CARE, the Washington Post reports. Nearly 10, 000 of those women may give birth in the next month. Women and children are especially vulnerable to disease and sexual exploitation under the deteriorating health and safety conditions in Port-au-Prince, the Post reports. Even before the earthquake, Haitian women and girls faced a high risk for physical and sexual violence. A 2006 study by the Inter-American Development Bank found that one-third of Haiti's women and girls reported physical or sexual violence, with more than half of those younger than age 18.

Questioning The Change In Mammography Guidelines

The methodology and evidence behind a widely publicized change in national mammography guidelines is questionable, according to a review in the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JDMS), published by SAGE. In November 2009, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine discussing the screening techniques for the early detection of breast cancer. A few isolated portions of that report, regarding recommended changes for the use of mammography, were widely discussed in the media, and garnered tremendous public attention. This new JDMS article provides an evidenced-based review of the work and recommendations contained in the USPSTF report and raises the question whether the controversial conclusions for breast cancer screening were supported by established scientific measurement and research standards.

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Blogs Comment On Antiabortion Super Bowl Ad, Tiller Murder Trial, Other Topics

The following summarizes selected women's health-related blog entries. ~ "Center for Reproductive Rights' Letter to CBS: Tebow Story Raises Serious Accuracy Questions, " Nancy Northup, Huffington Post blogs: In a letter to CBS over its plans to air an antiabortion-rights Focus on the Family ad during the Super Bowl, Center for Reproductive Rights President Northup asks the network to "reconsider" the decision. It is "essential" that the network determine whether the ad "meets CBS's own standards with regard to accuracy and advocacy, " Northup says. She writes that the Associated Press in a Jan. 16 article "reported that 'the commercial is likely to be an antiabortion message chronicling Pam Tebow's 1987 pregnancy'" while she was working in the Philippines as a missionary.

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