News & Views

Council Commentary

New DHS Reports from Kenya and Zambia Point to Improving Maternal and Child Health

The most recent Demographic and Health Surveys from Kenya and Zambia show progress in health indicators—particularly in the areas of maternal and child health—and also suggest where more work is needed to ensure people can achieve their full potential.

In Kenya, more and more women are giving birth in health facilities (40% in 2003, 43% in 2008-09, 61% in 2014), and the percentage of women getting postnatal care in the first two days after birth has increased substantially (10% in 2003, 42% in 2008-09, 51% in 2014). In both Kenya and Zambia, increasing numbers of women are using contraception (Kenya: 39% in 2003, 46% in 2008-09, 58% in 2014; Zambia: 34% in 2001-02, 41% in 2007, 49% in 2013-14), indicating the prioritization of women’s health in these countries.

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Press Releases

Global Leaders Gather in Lusaka to Discuss Progress and Challenges in Reproductive Health, HIV, and Gender-based Violence

Global Leaders Gather in Lusaka to Discuss Progress and Challenges in Reproductive Health, HIV, and Gender-based Violence

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (9 April 2015) — National and global health leaders gathered in Lusaka for Ideas with Impact: Working in Partnership to Save Lives in Zambia, a Population Council symposium on the latest efforts to improve lives and protect health for women, men, and adolescents.

The symposium brought together more than 100 government officials, researchers, policymakers, development partners, community members, and civil society from all provinces in Zambia for a full day of information-sharing and debate on the latest scientific progress in addressing the country’s complex socioeconomic challenges, including high rates of HIV, limited access to maternal and reproductive health resources, and gender-based violence.

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Council Commentary

Invest in Girls, Change the World

Martha Brady and Nicole Haberland are directors of RISING and Population Council senior associates.

There is widespread recognition that investing in adolescent girls in the developing world not only improves their lives, but is critical to the success of key development goals, like reducing poverty and improving global health and education. Studies also show that excluding adolescent girls from school, community participation, and meaningful livelihoods has a substantial negative impact on the health of girls and their families, and on the economic prosperity of their families and communities.

However, key questions about programs for adolescent girls remain unanswered. For example:

  • Do multi-component programs lead to better outcomes for girls than single-component programs?
  • Do multi-level interventions (those directed at girls but also at gatekeepers, boys/men, or community institutions/systems) lead to better outcomes for girls?
  • Can “boosters”—supplemental, short interventions provided to participating girls sometime well after the end of the main program—help sustain the effects of a program? If so, what, when and how should they be administered?
  • How do the effects of an intervention vary depending on the “saturation” of the program in the community? Is there a threshold proportion of girls that must be involved? 
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Council Commentary

Does Pregnancy Really Cause Girls to Drop Out of School?

Does Pregnancy Really Cause Girls to Drop Out of School?

Globally, “schoolgirl pregnancy” is cited as one of the primary barriers to girls’ education. But the story may not be as simple as it seems. Today on Devex, Population Council researcher Stephanie Psaki makes the case that investing the time and resources to understand the true causes of schoolgirl dropout will pay off with more effective interventions.

Dr. Hala Youssef Named Egypt’s Minister of Population

The Population Council congratulates Dr. Hala Youssef on her recent appointment as Egypt’s Minister of Population.

Dr. Youssef previously worked for the Population Council and has collaborated with the Council on a wide range of projects on family planning, sexual and reproductive rights and health, and postabortion care. Most recently, Hala Youssef served as Secretary General of the Egyptian National Population Council. In 2007, she was named a public health professor at Cairo University. Dr. Youssef has also spent time working for the Ford Foundation, UNFPA, UNICEF, and UNESCO.

Youssef is a renowned public health expert and  strong supporter of sexual and reproductive health and rights and ending child marriage.

Press Releases

Population and Development Review: “Childbearing within Marriage and Consensual Union in Latin America, 1980–2010”

Population and Development Review: “Childbearing within Marriage and Consensual Union in Latin America, 1980–2010”
Photo credit: © 2012 Paola Roblesgil Photography

New Study from Population and Development Review Finds that Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing Has Become Increasingly Common among Highly Educated Women in 13 Latin American Countries

NEW YORK (18 March 2015) — “Consensual unions”—two people living in the same dwelling in a relationship akin to marriage—have been an integral part of family life in Latin America for centuries. In fact, in Latin America, legal marriages and consensual unions are seen as similarly acceptable family arrangements for bearing and raising children. However, consensual unions have historically been more common among disadvantaged populations and in rural areas than among more advantaged populations and in urban areas—indicating that such unions are rooted in limited economic and social opportunities. But a study in the March 2015 issue of Population and Development Review finds that childbearing within a consensual union among highly educated women has transitioned from rare to increasingly common in 13 Latin American countries. Population and Development Review is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal published by the Population Council.

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Media Coverage

Saving Innocence: The Global Fight to End Child Marriage

Saving Innocence: The Global Fight to End Child Marriage
Photo credit: © Ollivier Girard

14 million girls are married each year as children, fundamentally limiting their health, education, future prosperity, and well-being.

America Abroad, an award-winning program distributed by Public Radio International, spoke with Annabel Erulkar, the Population Council’s Ethiopia country director, to highlight her path-breaking work on ending child marriage.

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