Keeping Mothers Alive

Mother and child in Chadian refugee camp, photo: Physicians for Human Rights/flickr

Last week the international community convened in New York to discuss progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, with maternal mortality among those lagging furthest behind. This week the ISN takes a closer look at the unabating danger of women’s death and acute injury during childbirth – and what the international community is doing about it.

This ISN Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by Allyn Gaestel about the impact of last week’s UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) summit on goal number five: maternal health.
  • A Podcast interview with Claudia Leimgruber-Neukom of Women’s Hope International about the tragedy of obstetric fistulas developed through childbirth – and how education is the key to addressing the condition.
  • Security Watch articles discussing the obstacles to achieving the MDGs by 2015.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including the Overseas Development Institute’s ‘MDG Report Card’ published earlier this month.
  • Primary Resources, like the full-text of the UN Millennium Declaration at the dawn of a new century.
  • Links to relevant websites, like a Time video, featuring a short film on current maternal health issues in Sierra Leone.
  • Our IR Directory, featuring the Washington, DC-based Center for Women Policy Studies.

GOP – Quo Vadis?

Rocky Road sign / photo: Sara Kuepfer

Any successful political movement or party requires enlightened leadership. And especially after suffering political defeat, a self-critical evaluation of the party’s mistakes is needed to get the party back on its feet – and on a solid ideological footing.

I am not saying that the GOP lacks spokesmen. The diatribes of the Rush Limbaughs and the Sarah Palins are omnipresent. But I can’t see much leadership, not to mention an “enlightened” one.

It’s World AIDS Day

Protoype of a sculputre to be unveiled today by the Desert AIDS Project in Palm Springs, CA / Photo: Jayel Aheram, flickr
Desert AIDS Project sculpture prototype / Photo: Jayel Aheram, flickr

Universal access and human rights is the theme for this year’s World AIDS Day. For 21 years, we’ve used 1 December to remind ourselves that the virus exists during the other 364 days of the year as well.

By the way, the US recently announced that it would lift a ban on people carrying the HIV virus from entering the country, a move that was long overdue.

From the ISN Digital Library:

    • HIV in the UK from the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) in London



You can scan all of our offerings concerning AIDS/HIV here.

A Kinder, Gentler Army?

Sigmund Freud's sofa / Photo: Konstantin Binder, Wikipedia
Sigmund Freud's sofa / Photo: Konstantin Binder, Wikipedia

For some reason I thought this practice was already in place, but the US Army has announced that it is starting an obligatory “emotional resiliency” program for its troops.

According to the NY Times the program is meant to head off the plethora of mental health issues soldiers bring back with them from their tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The move comes after the military has faced criticism for failing to provide proper care for its troops, which some say has led to an “epidemic of suicides” due to post-traumatic stress disorder and what’s termed ‘Gulf War syndrome.’

The weekly, 90-minute sessions will involve exercises in which participants will examine methods “to defuse or expose common habits of thinking and flawed beliefs that can lead to anger and frustration — for example, the tendency to assume the worst.”

Off topic comment: That’s not just needed for the military.

In an atmosphere in which a person is formed into, for all intents and purposes, a killing machine, this type of program is/was sorely needed. But it does go against the normal military culture; one of bravery, manliness and keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of danger, or worse.

“Psychology has given us this whole language of pathology, so that a soldier in tears after seeing someone killed thinks, ‘Something’s wrong with me; I have post-traumatic stress,’ ” or P.T.S.D., Dr. Seligman said. “The idea here is to give people a new vocabulary, to speak in terms of resilience. Most people who experience trauma don’t end up with P.T.S.D.; many experience post-traumatic growth.”

And perhaps give a new definition to “bravery.”

‘Socialized Medicine’ in America: Old Habits Die Hard

Health care reform, a painful issue / Photo: Z Peckler/flickr
Health care reform, a painful issue / Photo: Z Peckler/flickr

The health care debate in the US continues to become more heated by the day, revealing new characters with dramatic twists and turns. From the outside it almost plays like a movie (well, maybe not a great movie) where I nearly reach for a soda and a bag of popcorn while watching constituents yelling at their local representative during town halls or US politicians debate about whether the health care reform will create so-called “death panels.”

However, as an American with family stretched across the country I am soon reminded of the sobering reality that this debate cuts much closer to home.

Family members on Medicare or Medicaid? Check. Family members uninsured? Check. Family members with insurance but poor, expensive coverage? Check. Family members struggling or unable to pay health care bills? Check. Family members discriminated by insurance companies due to pre-existing conditions? Check.