We are writing this from Pretoria, at the seventh African Population Conference (APC) jointly hosted by the government of South Africa and the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS). The conference is convened only once every four years, so this was a rare opportunity for the World Bank Group to engage the region’s academicians and policymakers on the conference’s key theme: Demographic Dividend in Africa: Prospects, Opportunities and Challenges.
This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed December 3, takes as its theme: “Inclusion matters: Access and Empowerment for People of all Abilities.” Under this umbrella, the U.N. and other international agencies urge inclusion of persons with “invisible disabilities” in society and in development efforts.
World AIDS Day 2015 marks an unheralded but profound increase in our response to HIV and other major infectious diseases. In the last year, HIV diagnostics and medicines have made a real step change, as better and cheaper viral load tests and lower-dose, less toxic, more effective and cheaper drugs come to market. Drug costs are at their lowest ever, with generic first-line regimens costing $95-158 per patient per year – a 60-70% reduction from 2007-2014.
With positive signals for fertility decline emerging in sub-Saharan Africa, and development economists debating the potential for African countries to see a “demographic dividend,” it’s a good time to look more closely at the data linking female education and childbearing.
Paul Farmer recently wrote in this space about Essential Surgery, the first volume released of nine expected in the Disease Control Priorities, 3rd edition series. He characterized that book as shining a spotlight on a long-neglected topic in global health and gave these reasons for the neglect: “Prevailing wisdom dictated that the surgical disease burden was too low, surgical expenses too high, and delivery of care too complicated.”
Today, the UN Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG)* released Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015. It reports that, worldwide, maternal mortality ratio (MMR) declined by almost 44% between 1990 and 2015, from 385 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births to 216.
We trudge past the towering mosque, past where the girls had skipped rope, past a trash heap piled high with cars. We step over a sewage trough, amble down a dusty hill, see the ocean skirt the horizon.
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On this Sunday, October 11, the world marks the International Day of the Girl Child. While the day is an opportunity to advocate for girls’ rights across many sectors, one persistent, pernicious issue deserves renewed attention: the high prevalence of child marriage.