The Human Impact

Pregnant teen with cancer stirs abortion debate in Dominican Republic

BOGOTA (TrustLaw) – When gynaecologist Lilliam Fondeur recently wrote about the plight of a pregnant teenager diagnosed with acute leukaemia in her column in the Dominican Republic’s El Nacional newspaper, little did she know it would revive debate about the country’s blanket ban on abortion and stir public support in favour of the young girl.

Following a change to the constitution in 2010, abortion in the Dominican Republic is banned under any circumstances, even when the mother’s health or life is in danger.

In recent weeks, Fondeur and local women’s rights groups have been campaigning for the 16-year-old girl, who is around 10 weeks pregnant, to undergo potentially life-saving chemotherapy to treat the cancer.

Fondeur tells me rounds of chemotherapy will severely affect, and possibly kill the foetus, which would be regarded as a crime under the country’s stringent abortion laws.

“The treatment will very likely deform the foetus. The young girl should be able to get an abortion as well as the treatment. But doctors in the public health system are afraid to carry out the procedure because it’s unconstitutional,” Fondeur said by telephone from Santo Domingo.

Climate change is wild card in water security – SEI analysts

** This post is part of AlertNet’s special report on water: The Battle for Water

We can think creatively about water management, but unknown large global threats could cause a fundamental reorganisation of life on Earth, according to a water expert with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

“A doomsday scenario would be that if the Greenland ice sheet melts, and then there’s six metres of sea-level rise — all bets are off,” said David Purkey,  a senior scientist who heads SEI’s Northern California office. “I think we’ve got bigger problems than water scarcity at that moment.”

Rain, rain everywhere and not a drop to drink

NAIROBI (AlertNet) – It’s bucketing down outside, washing away houses and people and causing total gridlock in the city’s evening rush hour.

And when you finally make it home and switch on your tap, it’s dry.

It’s infuriating.

In Nairobi, private water vendors do a booming business, selling water in 20-litre jerrycans to the poor and in 4,000-litre tankers to the rich.

City residents are the lucky ones. In rural areas, women and children walk for hours to collect water from streams and wells.

New water policies are key to tackling scarcity – SIWI analysts

Reining in “water anarchy” due to inadequate regulation is one way to avoid the threat of water scarcity and secure resources for the future, according to a water expert at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

Hakan Tropp, director of the United Nations Development Programme water governance facility at SIWI, told AlertNet in an interview that governments should respond to consumer trends in developing countries by instituting new water management policies to avoid future shortfalls.

In a separate interview, Ana Cascao, a programme manager with SIWI who specialises in hydropolitics, said that managing controversy between countries while putting in place a proper balance of water and energy use will help protect water resources from political risks.

When is a condom more than a condom?

When is a condom more than a condom?

When it becomes the catalyst for controversy, intimidation and even criminal prosecution, as it has in many places around the world today, a panel of experts said Sunday.

“There is no reason, in my opinion, why an inert piece of rubber should cause so much conflict and controversy…but it does,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice and head of its Condoms for Life campaign.

He spoke at a session called “The politics of condoms: Cock-ups, controversies and cucumbers,” at the 19th International AIDS Conference which began a six-day run on July 22.

Global women’s agenda lengthy at AIDS 2012 conference

By Lisa Anderson

WASHINGTON (TrustLaw)— Globally, young women between the ages of 15 and 24 years are twice as likely as their male counterparts to contract HIV. HIV is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. Women and girls make up 60 percent of the people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, home to two-thirds of the world’s HIV cases.

Just these few facts, provided in a recent report by the United Nations AIDS programme (UNAIDS), begin to underscore women’s and girls’ severe vulnerability to HIV infection and the toll it takes on their lives.

They also help explain the large number of sessions devoted to these issues at the week-long AIDS2012 conference that began in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

Director hopes Haiti cholera film will pressure UN

An American filmmaker is hoping to use the power of viral video to raise awareness about Haiti’s cholera epidemic in much the same way the surprise Internet sensation Kony 2012 got the world talking about the plight of child soldiers under Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony.

If David Darg’s award-winning documentary, “Baseball in the time of Cholera”, gets even a fraction of the 100 million hits the Kony video received, there could soon be a lot more people demanding action on Haiti’s epidemic.

Darg’s hard-hitting film aims to heap public pressure on the United Nations to take responsibility for the outbreak which began in October 2010 and continues today.

Architects seek funding for Namibia sandbag igloos

Are sandbag igloos the key to solving housing problems in dry regions?

Architects Nicola Du Pisanie of Stonewood Design and Ross McDonald of Alison Brooks Architects discuss a proposed project to build sandbag, or super adobe, igloo homes in the Namibian desert during a London Festival of Architecture talk at the Building Centre in London.

The geometrical domes are made with sandbags and barbed wire and then plastered for protection. They are not difficult to construct and they are wind and earthquake resistant, according to Du Pisanie and McDonald.

Du Pisanie and McDonald formerly worked with FCBStudios where the “Igloos for the Namib” project was initiated.

Q+A: Turning London family planning summit into action

By Maria Caspani

LONDON (TrustLaw) – A major summit on family planning held in London on Wednesday secured enough funding to extend contraception to 120 million women in the developing world who want it but cannot get it.

Now that the money has been promised, what steps must be taken to ensure this global pledge translates into action to improve the lives of millions of women and children?

Tewodros Melesse, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), spoke to TrustLaw about using the money effectively.

How can contraception cut child deaths?

LONDON (TrustLaw) – It’s well known that good family planning vastly reduces the risk of women dying from pregnancy complications and helps prevent miscarriages and still births.

What is far less recognised is the effect that spacing out pregnancies has on the survival of children way beyond birth.

A report published by the Lancet medical journal on the eve of an international summit on family planning says improving access to contraceptives in developing countries could reduce deaths in young children by 20 percent.

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