The global focus on HIV/AIDS initiatives and "ideological controversies" surrounding issues such as abortion have "marginalized" reproductive and sexual health in the global health agenda, according to a panel of public health experts said on Friday at a news conference on Friday, CQ HealthBeat reports.
The panel was convened to discuss a recent series published in the journal Lancet that said indicators of poor reproductive health in developing countries include the number of deaths from unsafe abortions, death or sickness from childbirth, or a lack of access to contraception, according to CQ HealthBeat.
The U.N. Population Fund estimates that about 529,000 women die annually during delivery and pregnancy, and 13% -- or 68,000 -- of those deaths result from unsafe abortions.
According to the panel, which was organized by the World Health Organization, reproductive and sexual health issues have become marginalized because they have become increasingly controversial.
Maurice Middleberg, vice president of public policy at the Global Health Council, said that most aid for health is allocated toward HIV/AIDS programs and that aid often is not given to the poorest countries.
Middleberg called on reproductive and sexual health advocates to partner with other groups aiming to improve primary care and systematic problems, such as lack of health workers, to address the "failure to provide adequate funds for basic health care in the poorest countries."
The panel said that family planning and that other initiatives need to be integrated with HIV/AIDS programs and more funding must be allocated to build primary care systems in developing countries, CQ HealthBeat reports (Blinkhorn, CQ HealthBeat, 11/17).