Sitting in the shade of a large tree and surrounded by a group of women, Cambodian midwife Ly Siyan holds up a colourful poster displaying a range of contraception options. She patiently waits for the giggles to subside when she points to a condom, aware that the two dozen women in the village of Chanloung in northwest Siem Reap province have rarely experienced such an open discussion about sex. Once the 37-year-old has their full attention again, she talks about long-term contraceptive methods and debunks some of the more persistent myths about their side-effects.
For mother-of-two Beun Chem, 27, who wants to hold off having more children so she can focus on running her small shop, the midwife’s explanations are eye-opening.
“I am happy to learn about contraception and reduce some concerns I had. Now I want to try the implant.”
She said she first heard about the device — which is inserted under the skin of a woman’s arm and can prevent pregnancy for up to five years by releasing hormones into the bloodstream — on television.
But “I didn’t know where they would put it”, she said, laughing.
As one of Cambodia’s first and only mobile midwives, Siyan has criss-crossed Siem Reap province on her motorbike to give these sex education talks to women in remote areas. Her efforts are part of a new project called “midwives-on-motos” which currently operates in five provinces.
Launched by Marie Stopes International, a non-profit reproductive health organization, the program aims to improve family planning in Cambodia by travelling to where the services are most needed.
Abortion rates have inched lower in most groups of U.S. women, but not among poor women, where they are still on the rise, according to a study. The report, in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, comes as the US federal and state governments begin to make funding cuts that could limit access to family planning services for the lowest income women. Among US women aged 15 to 44, the national abortion rate declined from 21 abortions for every 1,000 women to 20 per 1,000 between the years 2000 and 2008. But the abortion rate among women with the lowest income – below the U.S. poverty line – climbed from 44 to 53 abortions per 1,000 in the same time period. Those women accounted for 16 of every 100 U.S. women aged 15 to 44 by 2008, but for 42 of every 100 abortions.
‘We weren’t necessarily surprised by the findings, because they’re a continuation of what we’d seen in the 1990s,’ said Rachel Jones at the Guttmacher Institute, New York-based non-profit organization that studies reproductive health issues, who led the research.
The China Family Planning Association (CFPA) has established a peer education body to educate young people about reproductive health.
“It is not an easy job to hold educational programs on reproductive health among the country’s 300 million adolescents, though the relevant knowledge and skills are not very difficult,” said Yang Yuchang, deputy director of the CFPA, on Friday.
The new body, known as the Adolescent Reproductive Health Peer Education Society, has proved to be an efficient way to inform the underage about sex by people with similar backgrounds, life experiences and interests, Yang said.
According to the official, the CFPA began studies on the issue in the 1980s, and it has trained a large number of volunteers who can help teach adolescents about reproductive health.
Fertility researchers from the University Medical Centre Utrecht, the Netherlands, have said that the age-specific blood levels of the Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH), which can predict when women will reach menopause, can make family planning easier.
Generally, women enter menopause between the age of forty and sixty. A woman’s fertility, however, ends ten years prior to this and in the most unfavourable circumstances occurs around the age of thirty. With regard to family planning and a career, it is extremely valuable for women to know the expected length of their fertility.
The Dutch researchers linked AMH levels to the point when the women entered menopause and based on these data constructed a model to predict the menopausal age. Using age and AMH, the age range in which menopause will occur can be individually predicted.
The rapid aging of Latin America’s population over the next half-century will make it difficult for countries to expand health and social protection without significant increases in social spending, says a new World Bank study, Population Aging: Is Latin America Ready?, edited by Daniel Cotlear, lead economist in the bank’s Health, Nutrition, and Population Unit.
Cotlear presented the book’s major findings today at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
Due to gains in life expectancy and declines in average family size, population aging has been the dominant demographic trend in Latin America over the past half-century and will remain so over the next half-century. This presents major challenges for social and economic policy.
“Aging will take place much faster in Latin America than in developing countries,” said Cotlear. “Latin America will do in a few decades what it took 100 years for France to do.”
These demographic changes, however, will in themselves have less fiscal impact in Latin America than will changes in policy. If current levels of coverage in health and social protection were to remain “frozen,” healthcare spending would have to increase only about 1 percentage point of GDP by 2050, while pension spending would have to rise about 3 percentage points, Cotlear said.
Identifying the human impact of rising sea levels is far more complex than just looking at coastal cities on a map.
Rather, estimates that are based on current, static population data can greatly misrepresent the true extent — and the pronounced variability — of the human toll of climate change, say University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.
“Not all places and not all people in those places will be impacted equally,” says Katherine Curtis, an assistant professor of community and environmental sociology at UW-Madison.
In a new online report, which will publish in an upcoming issue of the peer-reviewed journal Population and Environment, Curtis and her colleague Annemarie Schneider examine the impacts of rising oceans as one element of how a changing climate will affect humans. “We’re linking economic and social vulnerability with environmental vulnerability to better understand which areas and their populations are most vulnerable,” Curtis says.
They used existing climate projections and maps to identify areas at risk of inundation from rising sea levels and storm surges, such as the one that breached New Orleans levees after Hurricane Katrina, then coupled those vulnerability assessments with projections for future populations.
It’s a deceptively challenging process, the authors say. “Time scales for climate models and time scales for human demography are completely different,” explains Schneider, part of the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. “Future climate scenarios typically span 50 to 100 years or more. That’s unreasonable for demographic projections, which are often conducted on the order of decades.”
The current study works to better align population and climate data in both space and time, allowing the researchers to describe social and demographic dimensions of environmental vulnerability.
The environment ministers of Germany’s 16 states agreed Friday that the country’s seven oldest nuclear reactors should be shut down permanently.
These reactors have all been suspended as part of a three-month nuclear ‘moratorium’ imposed by Chancellor Angela Merkel following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan on March 11.
Merkel’s government is due to make a final decision on the future of Germany’s nuclear programme on June 6.
A comprehensive update to government-mandated fuel economy labels means that for the first time, cars and light trucks will be ranked on their environmental friendliness.
The new emissions ratings, based on a sliding scale of 1 through 10, with 10 being the best, will be required on all new vehicles starting with the 2013 model year.
Each car will get one rating for greenhouse gases and another for smog.
The greenhouse gas rating is based on carbon dioxide emitted per mile, while the smog rating will include measures for chemicals like nitrogen oxide, organic gases and formaldehyde.
The United Nations Population Division just released a new report on projections for world population growth, with somewhat surprising findings. It said that the global population — rather than stabilizing as experts previously thought — will most likely grow to over 9 billion in less than 40 years, and continue to grow to just over 10 billion by 2100. Even the UN’s “low” projections for world population growth have been revised upwards based on the new data.
One reason for the new projections is that fertility rates aren’t declining in some developing countries as experts had forecasted. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, fertility rates remain high and population could more than triple from 1 billion to 3.6 billion in our children’s lifetimes. This is probably the result of several things, including the fact that foreign aid for family planning services has not kept up with demand, in part due to widespread social, religious and political pressures, and in part to shortsighted cuts in assistance. The most recent US Congressional budget recently cut 5 percent from international family planning, representing nearly 30 percent below its 1995 peak in inflation-adjusted dollars. The number of women of reproductive age grew by several hundred million during that time. In addition, fertility rates have increased in some industrialized nations, including in the United States and Britain.
We are expected to reach the significant “7 billion global population milestone” this fall. While this unwieldy number and the new UN projections for growth may not seem to have a real connection to our everyday lives, there are significant links, with women and girls, family planning and reproductive health, and environmental sustainability.
More than just a tool for predicting health, modern genetics is upending long-held assumptions about who we are. A new study by Harvard researchers casts new light on the intermingling and migration of European, Middle Eastern and African populations since ancient times.
In a paper titled “The History of African Gene Flow into Southern Europeans, Levantines and Jews,” published in PLoS Genetics, HMS Associate Professor of Genetics David Reich and his colleagues investigated the proportion of sub-Saharan African ancestry present in various populations in West Eurasia, defined as the geographic area spanning modern Europe and the Middle East. While previous studies have established that such shared ancestry exists, they have not indicated to what degree or how far back the mixing of populations can be traced.
Analyzing publicly available genetic data from 40 populations comprising North Africans, Middle Easterners and Central Asians were doctoral student Priya Moorjani and Alkes Price, an assistant professor in the Program in Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology within the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.