Patrick Adams

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This woman in a refugee camp in Bangladesh is among those raped and impregnated by soldiers. After she gave birth to a son, her husband blamed her for the rape and abandoned her. Credit Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

No one knows how many Rohingya became pregnant as a result of rape by the Myanmar military. No one knows how many babies were born to survivors of sexual violence living among the 750,000 Rohingya in camps in Bangladesh.

The systematic sexual violence against the Rohingya reminded many in Bangladesh of their own painful history: During Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971, the Pakistani military and local collaborators killed about 300,000 civilians and raped and tortured as many as 400,000 women and girls.

After the fighting ended in late 1971, reports abounded of rape survivors who, shunned by their own communities, had killed themselves or their newborn babies, or died from attempts to self-induce an abortion.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Zika virus was first disovered in April 1947 near Lake Victoria in Uganda. Isaac Kasamani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The race for a Zika vaccine, one of the most pressing priorities in global health, is at full throttle. More than a dozen companies and government institutions are working to unlock the secrets of the virus, and a vaccine could be available as early as 2018.

But available to whom? If history is any guide, impoverished communities in Africa are likely to be the last in line. And this despite a mounting body of evidence that, contrary to the prevailing wisdom, poor families in Africa might bear the greatest burden of the disease.

Indeed, much of what we have taken for granted about Zika — that it is a threat unique to the Western Hemisphere; that it may only recently have evolved the ability to cause microcephaly and brain damage in babies; and that it hasn’t hurt women and children in Africa — is now in serious doubt.…  Seguir leyendo »

En abril se anunció que la propagación del virus de Zika a lo largo de América Latina puede causar microcefalia, por lo que los líderes de la región se han visto bajo una presión creciente para flexibilizar algunas de las leyes más duras del mundo en contra del aborto.

Solo dos países de América Latina han legalizado el aborto: Cuba fue el primero, en 1979; Uruguay el segundo en 2012. Pero la experiencia del segundo, uno de los países más democráticos en América Latina, es la que ha dado una lección con la reforma, o al menos una visión de lo que se puede lograr.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the announcement in April that the Zika virus spreading across Latin America can cause microcephaly in the womb, leaders across the region have come under increased pressure to relax some of the world’s most restrictive laws against abortion.

Only two countries in Latin America have made abortion legal and widely available. Cuba was the first, in 1979; Uruguay the second, in 2012. But it’s the experience of the latter, one of the most democratic countries in Latin America, that offers a lesson in reform — or at least a picture of what is possible.

It started 10 years before the law was passed, with a medical protocol called the “Uruguay Model.”…  Seguir leyendo »

On a recent morning at Persahabatan Hospital in East Jakarta, patients, some from remote villages accessible only by boat, gathered in a waiting room. Nearby, lab technicians used new diagnostic technology to test sputum samples for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, in an effort to tackle a growing caseload of the deadly disease.

Indonesia’s recently sworn-in president, Joko Widodo, takes the reins of a rising economic power poised to play a larger role on the world stage. But he also confronts a set of entrenched public health problems fueled by the poverty in which millions of Indonesians still live. None is more urgent than the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis across this sprawling archipelago.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last May, when Tanzanian officials announced that folic acid would be added to the country’s flour supply, their partners at Britain’s Department for International Development, who provided seed funding for the program, applauded the news.

“This is a great day for women and children’s health,” said Marshall Elliott, the head of the department’s Tanzania division. “Fortification is great because it is easy and cheap, and does not require people to do anything different.”

Mr. Elliot was right. But there was a certain irony in such praise from the lips of a British official.

In 1991, a randomized, controlled trial of 1,817 pregnant women, published in The Lancet, showed that folic acid could reduce the risk of fetal neural tube defects, like anencephaly and spina bifida, by an estimated 72 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »