Contraception changes everything

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Access to contraception is something we often take for granted in the United States. But 222 million women in the developing world – who have an unmet need for contraception – still can’t get it. How can contraception radically change their worlds?

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Half the Sky: Documentary Focuses on Women Around the World

PBS will premiere the two-part documentary Half the Sky on October 1. The film builds on the bestselling book written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn by traveling around the world to share the struggles and challenges faced by women. WuDunn and Executive Producer Mikaela Beardsley take to the USAID Impact blog to discuss the series, the role of USAID and the power of storytelling. Read about the project below and watch the trailer at the top to learn more.

Storytelling is a powerful tool.  It can raise awareness, build compassion, encourage thinking, and motivate action.  That was the vision behind Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity, the book I wrote with my husband, Nicholas Kristof. Our goal was to bring these incredibly personal and powerful stories of women around the world to a mainstream audience.   When Half the Sky was published, Nick and I were floored by the response. The stories resonated with far more people than we imagined.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) knows that powerful narratives can set the stage for positive action.  From the general public to aid experts in the field, the stories and struggles in the developing play a big role in compelling the general public and aid experts to find solutions to global challenges. Telling these stories is not only an expression of our American values but demonstrates how working together to solve these challenges benefits all of us.

And yet telling a powerful story can be challenging.  Different audiences absorb information differently.  Some need an emotional connection, others respond to hard data and statistics so identifying your audience and finding the right platform is critical.  From films, books, and newspapers to exhibits, mobile gaming, and social media, storytellers are venturing into new and exciting platforms, and adapting the material to resonate with diverse audiences.

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Melinda Gates On Global Health Spending

Melinda Gates and New York Times journalist Nick Kristof allowed readers to submit questions about international development and global health.   The first part of the conversation was published yesterday; this question and answer caught the eye of us at Healthy Lives:

Question: I attended a talk once with the British economist Benny Dembitzer. He thinks that too much money is spent on the fight against malaria and other diseases, believing that a child may be saved from malaria today but could die from diptheria tomorrow. Instead, he’d rather see that money spend on primary education. As a molecular biologist, I think that the fight against insect transmitted diseases can be won, but I can understand the argument. Do you think that a point might be reached at which we have to say: Enough’s enough. Let’s give everyone bed nets and we can fight malaria through bringing people out of poverty? –ROBERT JONES

MELINDA: I hear that question a lot, and I don’t think it is either or. We have to do both. It is incredibly important not only to invest in health, but also to invest in efforts that stimulate economic growth, expand access to opportunity, and help the poor raise themselves out of poverty. Take agriculture, for example. We invest in agriculture because we believe that if smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women, had access to better information and higher yielding and more resilient crops, they could better feed their families, earn higher incomes, and become self-sufficient.

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President Sirleaf: Liberia Shows that American Foreign Assistance Can Help Rebuild Countries

Debates over the future of US foreign assistance continue to intensify in light of debt reduction negotiations in congress. Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, writes an Op-Ed in the Washington Post explaining how assistance from the United States has helped the nation emerge from a civil war and progress on a track that will graduate

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Healthy Dose July 8, 2011

Top Story Child Health Improvements Featured in MDG Report The Millennium Development Goals report, launched by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon tracks the progress made in the 11 years since the goals were created. Voice of America reports on some of the promising findings from the report. “Hundreds of millions have been lifted from poverty.

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Healthy Dose May 27, 2011

Top StoryObama Administration Considers Implications of Early Use of ARVs to Stop Spread of HIV The results of a recent bombshell study revealing the impact of taking ARVs and the spread of HIV has the Obama administration doing some serious pondering over the impact of a policy change. Earlier this month federal officials announced the

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Healthy Dose May 9, 2011

Top StorySwitch from Quinine toArtesunatefor Malaria Treatment Could Save 200,000 Lives a Year Young girl has her finger pricked for a malaria test. A new report by MSF argues that switching from using quinine to artesunate to treat malaria could  save up to 200,000 lives a year. “When children arrive at the clinic with severe

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Healthy Dose April 20, 2011

Top StoryBritain to Provide Ground Support in Libya http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed_edition&videoId=world/2011/04/19/ctw.anderson.hague.libya.cnn Military advisers will be sent to Libya by the British Military to serve in a non-fighting role in support of rebels. In addition, the EU has notified the UN that it is prepared to send troops to provide humanitarian assistance if needed. CNN reports on the

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Healthy Dose April 11, 2011

Top StoryIvorian Refugees Continue to Pour Into Liberia Refugees in the village of Bawaydee getting water from taps Oxfam installed As more refugees flee the violence in Cote d’Ivoire, concerns mount in regards to the living conditions of camps in Liberia. The Christian Science Monitor reports:  Over the past four months, more than 120,000 people

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The Healthy Dose for February 1, 2011

Top Story UN Secretary General Ban Praises African Leaders Malaria Alliance “The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) is breaking down barriers, forging partnerships and getting supplies to families in record time,” Mr. Ban said in remarks at the ALMA event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the African Union.

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