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Women Deliver: Modern Contraception Comes of Age

June 8, 2010

The Women Deliver conference (www.womendeliver.org), is running June 7-9 2010 and the GAB team is present! It is a global meeting on maternal and reproductive health and the advancement of women and girls. Tune in today, tomorrow, and Wednesday for live updates directly from the conference floor.

While the theme of day one was much about the ways in which contraceptives could be made to be more accessible and informed about in developing countries, the theme of day two is taking a more technological standpoint. For the first morning session, we were taken through the evolution of modern contraception, starting with the introduction of the pill in 1960.

To start things off, Dr. Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and Director of the Gapminder Foundation took the stage and proceeded to give us a more rousing presentations on technological data advancement than our caffeine-hugging faces thought possible.

Rosling informed the audience that the reason contraception was funded in the 1960s had nothing to do with the health of women or maternal matters–it had to do with the fear of communism. The general attitude seemed to be that overpopulation would lead to a lack of food and a poor country and so on–clearing the way for the communist take over (it’s a serious slippery slope offender but who can complain with the end result?). So in his words, “funding wasn’t even a question”.

Photo via Women Deliver

Photo via IHME

Using a unique bubble graph to illustrate the increase and decrease of maternal mortality over the years, Rosling explained that when considering these numbers, it is not enough to simply consider the health situation but also the social situation of the area we are studying. He examines how technology connects with local communities and used Sri Lanka as a model example in development for how the MDG 5 standard was created. He notes that much progress has been made since the pill dropped in 1960 and stresses the importance of recognizing progress, no matter how small:

We need to put forward the successes as motivations as much as what needs work.- Dr. Hans Rosling

Touting his home country’s (Sweden) stellar development in maternal health matters, he asked the crowd (an answer which provided much laughter from the crowd), “What do you get when you search for sex, money and health on Google?”

Signs of progress.

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