China: Official Vows That China Will Correct Gender Imbalance
In response to China’s growing gender imbalance, Wang Xia, head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), recently announced that the country will put more effort into narrowing the large gender gap in population. China’s population has skewed male since the eighties, due to a combination of the country’s one-child policy and the availability of tests for sex determination for those who want to practice sex selection.
Sex-selective abortion, as well as infanticide are the primary reasons that the boy-to-girl ratio in 2011 was 117.78, whereas a natural gender ratio hovers between 103-107 boys per girl at birth. Wang Xia said that the Chinese government aims to lower the current rate to below 115 by 2015. Multiple methods are being pursued, including the crackdown on illegal gender tests and selective abortions. China will also push more intensive obstetric monitoring of mothers-to-be, a questionable step forward. The gender imbalance seen in China’s population has stemmed from a mixture of cultural, social, and economic biases against girls, and has only caused further problems as a result, including sex crimes and the trafficking of women and young girls. Via China Daily.
Jordan: Progress In Reproductive Health & Family Planning
A recent report from the Higher Population Council (HPC) of Jordan, shows that, overall, the country has achieved “positive outcomes,” due to the creation of a national plan to better the country’s reproductive health and family planning services. The HPC, along with several local and international partners, accomplished sixty-nine percent of the plan’s expected outputs, despite struggling with financial setbacks.
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The report recommended utilizing both the media and religious leaders in attempting to raise awareness of reproductive health in Jordan. Other tactics discussed were to create smaller sub-goals rather than attempting to reach one specific national goal, and to focus on building sustainability when it comes to bettering both reproductive health and overall health for Jordanian women and children. A new national plan is set to launch for 2013-2015. Via Jordan Times.
United Kingdom: One Step Close to Male Contraceptive Pill
The discovery of a new gene might hold the key to the creation of a male contraceptive pill. The gene, named Katnal1, is active in the testes and controls the final stages of sperm development. Researchers from Edinburgh University say that blocking Katnal1 with a contraceptive pill would result in temporary infertility but would not permanently damage a man’s ability to produce sperm in the future.
Being able to block the Katnal1 gene would solve the ongoing problem scientists have been having in creating a reliable male contraceptive pill that does not cause long-term sperm production damage. Earlier attempts at a pill for men focused on blocking testosterone, but had negative side effects like irritability, lack of sex drive, tiredness, and potential damage to future sperm creation. The discovery of Katnal1 stemmed from experiments on infertile mice, and researchers from Edinburgh say that despite this exciting finding, it may take years before the pill will be ready to test on men. Via The Independent.
Rwanda: Family Planning Being Subverted By Cultural Beliefs
One of the fundamental take-home messages from the 5th Eastern Africa Reproductive Health Network (EARHN) summit recently held in Rwanda were the challenges that family planning organizations face due to various cultural and traditional beliefs. One of the main obstacles is that the cultural practice of polygamy can make it difficult to promote healthy family planning that has been proven to reduce maternal mortality rates.
Statistics at the summit show that both women and men are aware of at least one method of contraception, proving that education programs have been working. However, the cultural stigma of actually using any of the accessible methods still stands in the way of achieving higher rates of use. In addition to cultural barriers, access is also an issue, with two in three Africans currently having no access to reproductive health services.
Via All Africa.