5 October 2010In a bid to exploit South Africa’s abundant sunshine and reduce reliance on mains electricity, Vodacom has launched a low-cost solar-powered mobile phone with the unique ability to charge on the go – even when it’s not in direct sunlight.Developed by Vodafone, the VF 247 has the unique ability to charge on the go, enabling people to benefit from mobile communications even in areas where electricity is scarce.“Cellphones are the primary means of communication for millions of South Africans, and thanks to our association with Vodafone we’re able to supply this new solar-powered handset, which makes it as easy and practical as possible for people to connect,” Vodacom South Africa MD Shameel Joosub said in a statement last week.Integrated solar panelThe VF 247 is designed with an integrated solar panel, saving users both time and money. The special built-in Sun Boost software ensures that the phone charges even when it’s not in direct sunlight.Charging the phone in sunlight for an hour or two every day should be enough to cover the power needs for average users, but if the battery runs low the phone can be topped up with a traditional mains power charger.“In many communities, electricity supplies are intermittent or non-existent, but with this new handset, people won’t have to worry about when they are next going to be able to charge the battery,” said Joosub.“It’s so simple and obvious, but the combination of solar power and a low-cost handset will hopefully make a big difference.”Basic voice and text featuresThe handset has been fitted with a high-temperature battery that can safely withstand increased operational temperatures. To prevent it from failure, an additional temperature protection is also embedded which will switch off any charging should the battery exceed the safe temperature.The VF 247 is an easy-to-use device that has all the basic voice and text features along with FM radio, torch and a colour display.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
Thomas Piketty garnered international acclaim after his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, about inequality, became a best seller. But it’s not without its critics. He’ll speak at the 13th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. Watch him on the live broadcast on 3 October on SABC 2 from 3pm to 4:30pm. There will also be live stream on the Nelson Mandela Foundation YouTube account and website. Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been praised and criticised. (Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation, Facebook) • Thomas Piketty to deliver Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture • What South Africa can learn from Piketty about addressing inequality? • Piketty’s contribution to unpacking inequality: timely and relevant • Top 50 Brands in South Africa named • Almost half of African millionaires make South Africa their home Chris Edwards, University of East AngliaThe economic and political focus is increasingly on the inequality of income and wealth as they both rise in Europe and the US. At a conference on Inclusive Capitalism held near the end of May at London’s Guildhall, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), claimed that rising inequality posed a threat to growth and financial stability and that governments need to narrow the gaps through imposing more progressive taxes.When even the right-wing IMF criticises rising inequality, then perhaps it is no surprise that the publishing world should witness the huge success of a book on inequality written by Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics. What might be more surprising is that one crucial effect of his work might be nothing to with inequality or capital whatsoever, but could instead help to refocus how we study economics and arrive at less biased conclusions.Piketty’s basic argument is simple. He argues that over the past four decades the growth of incomes in the rich countries of Europe and the US has averaged 1% or 2% a year whereas the return on wealth or capital has been running at more than 4% a year. Under such conditions, wealth concentration grows as does political tension. We are, he says, returning to a sort of Downton Abbey world of the late 19th and early 20th century; a “patrimonial” capitalism in which inherited wealth dominates and a world in which the economy is characterised, not by talented individuals, but by family dynasties making up only 1% of the population. To join this exclusive club it is more sensible to marry into wealth than to work for it. It might be said that skiving and seducing are now better than striving (whatever Britain’s prime minister might say).Data minePiketty’s contribution has been to look at the pattern of wealth and income inequality in capitalist economies over at least the past 100 years. He, with the aid of a number of colleagues, has assembled a huge collection of statistics on income and wealth distribution in some 20 countries.What comes out of this is his claim that over the past century in Europe and more particularly in the US, the share of income going to the richest 1% has followed a U-shaped arc. In 1910 the richest 1% received around a fifth of total income in both Britain and the United States. By 1950 that share had been cut by at least half, but since 1980 the share of this 1% has surged so much that in the US that it’s back to where it was a century ago. The same pattern has been followed by the distribution of wealth.This U-shaped arc is the opposite of what was supposed to happen according to Simon Kuznets, a Belarusian-American economist who, in the 1950s, forecast an inverted U-curve for income distribution as an economy grows. In other words, according to Kuznets, as economies mature they are supposed to be more equal. According to Piketty, the opposite is happening with Europe and the US, heading back towards a Dickensian world of inequality.To avoid this, corrective steps are needed. Piketty favours a graduated wealth tax, imposed globally, an income tax of 80% on those with the highest salaries and an enforced transparency for all bank transactions.The controversyPiketty’s book has been broadly supported by economists in the centre of the political spectrum. Paul Krugman (the Nobel Prize-winning US economist based at Princeton University and the op-ed columnist for the New York Times) has praised it profusely. There have been attacks from both the political left and the right but particularly from the right. The Wall Street Journal has been apoplectic and the London-based Financial Times has been none too pleased.In these circles of the political right, arguments about the distribution of income and wealth invariably follow two routes. One is to deny that the rich are doing exceptionally well. The other is to claim that the rich deserve their soaring incomes and wealth and are really job creators not predators.The first of these counterattacks was launched by Chris Giles, the FT’s economics editor. He argued that Piketty was wrong to claim that inequality has grown over the past 40 years in Europe and the US. Statistics on income and wealth distribution are problematic. But, in my experience, income and wealth equality is generally over-stated rather than under-stated in rich countries – and this is true of the UK . It is to Piketty’s credit that he has shown all the statistics that he has used and he has said that: “I have no doubt that my historical data series can be improved and will be improved in the future”.In the meantime the general conclusion about the attack on Piketty by the FT seems to be summed up by the centre-right Economist magazine, namely that “the analysis does not seem to support many of the allegations made by the FT or the conclusion that the book’s argument is wrong”.Thus, the counterattack seems to fail. Inequality does seem to have increased over the past 40 years in Europe and the US. What about the second defence? Do the rich deserve their soaring incomes and wealth? Piketty argues “no” because the marginal productivity of managers is unmeasurable and economic performance has not improved since the 1960s while the pay of top managers has exploded.A critical assessment from the left has come from David Harvey, a Marxist professor at the City University of New York. Harvey criticises his book on a number of grounds. Here I have the space to focus on just one, namely Piketty’s failure to make the link between the increase in inequality, the financial crisis in 2008 and the recession that followed. Harvey argues that a rise in inequality increases the likelihood of slow growth as demand dries up and under-consumption takes hold.Interestingly, Harvey’s focus on the link between inequality and slow growth brings us back to the IMF in which a recent study by a number of economists finds that countries with high levels of inequality have suffered lower growth than nations that have distributed incomes more evenly.Despite his misgivings, Harvey does praise Piketty’s collection of statistics and it is here that we might find a final, and possibly enduring legacy from Piketty’s work.Krugman has said Piketty’s work will “change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics”. Perhaps. If the latter is true, it will be a breath of fresh air to those groups of students who have protested recently about the non-empirical, neo-liberal bias in the teaching of economics in British universities. It might be too much to hope that we can entirely detach macroeconomics from ideology, but the weight of authority brought by Piketty’s – and his colleagues’ – reliance on deep data analysis might at least offer us a blueprint for a better way of debating the dismal science.Chris Edwards, External Research Associate, , University of East AngliaThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
The conversation around artificial intelligence tends to focus on how it can make companies more efficient and productive. And that stands to reason — implemented effectively, such automation really does lead to greater output in less time at a lower cost.Of course, AI customized for your business doesn’t grow on trees. One software development firm, for instance, estimates that a simple chatbot could cost between $6,000 to $12,240, while a more complex bot’s price tag could be closer to six figures. But even with AI’s short-term costs, the tech could be a worthwhile investment that lowers your business’s long-term expenditures.As marketplaces become more crowded and competitive, companies will need to look for every advantage to remain relevant and appealing. AI plays a big part in that, cementing a company’s reputation as an innovator in the process. Here are four ways you can use AI to cut costs for your business:Use Automation to Improve Efficiency and Reduce ErrorsErrors aren’t just disruptive; they’re wasteful. In healthcare, for example, unnecessary tests and procedures cost U.S. consumers an astounding $210 billion a year. Part of the problem is that each patient is likely receiving medical treatment from multiple service providers, making it difficult to effectively organize a treatment schedule. AI, however, can spot duplicate procedures in the scheduling process and reduce scheduling errors as well.CHRISTUS Health, for instance, worked with Experian Health to automate up to 80 percent of its preregistration-related tasks, such as inputting new patients’ health history. As a result, productivity increased by 60 percent while errors plummeted. Staffers reallocated the time that was being spent on menial tasks to helping out with more important needs. Increasing efficiency and decreasing errors benefits both patients and providers.Improve Your Production Output With Stronger WorkflowsThe cumulative effects of inefficiency can cause end-to-end production processes to lag and accrue extra costs. Automating workflows ensures that they run automatically, consistently, and with less oversight. AI can replace human inputs while helping to manage the inputs humans still make, improving every aspect of production in the process.For example, a major paper packaging manufacturer was looking to reduce its scrap rate, so it implemented Sight Machine’s sensor-enabled, AI-driven application suite to track the production process in depth. This enabled the company to monitor every instance when a machine came into contact with paper and analyze the resulting production data in real time, eliminating many inefficiencies and QA issues in the process.Free Up Your Employees’ Time for Higher-Level TasksPeople are your biggest asset, so save their valuable time by automating some of their menial duties. For example, Botkeeper uses human-assisted AI to handle bill paying, accounts receivable, financial reporting, and myriad other accounting tasks. To date, the solution has automated more than 1,200,000 hours of bookkeeping for its 1,000 clients. With the time saved, companies can either reduce the number of accountants they employ or repurpose the existing ones to work on more strategic accounting efforts.Once AI has time- and labor-intensive processes running on autopilot, remaining employees can redirect their focus to more important things. By one estimate, employees who saved 240 hours due to automation return $9,240 in value to their employers. The numbers are even higher when it’s executives’ time that’s being repurposed. Automate the Sticking Points of Customer ServiceAutomation in the form of chatbots and digital assistants leads to better customer service overall because customers can reach these AI helpers 24/7. This technology is so beneficial for all involved that Gartner predicts that 85 percent of customer service interactions will take place between humans and AI by 2020.That prediction’s believable when you consider an example like Autodesk Virtual Assistant. AVA is able to handle 30,000 interactions a month, speeding up response times from 1.5 days to 5 minutes. Call centers are quickly becoming obsolete as automation learns to answer the same queries as human representatives in less time. In turn, companies can offer customers superior service.AI can optimize companies’ operations in ways that both improve their bottom line and enhance the customer experience. AI-driven automation is an advantage now, but moving forward, companies will consider it a critical asset for remaining competitive. China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Tags:#AI#artificial intelligence#business expenses#chatbot#cost reduction#customer service#operations#productivity Brad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture AI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storage Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.
View comments “He’s a big part of my success in the league,” Antetokounmpo said after Wednesday’s practice in his first public comments since the coaching change. “I’m loyal to the people I work with. I love him as a person. I care about him as a person.”Informed by Bucks’ management of the planned firing even before Kidd learned his fate, Antetokounmpo called his soon-to-be ex-coach to break the news.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“It was one of the toughest calls I had to make,” he said. “We are going to miss him.”Joe Prunty, a member of Kidd’s staff, has been named interim coach for the remainder of the season. He directed the team to a 109-105 win over Phoenix on Monday, just hours after taking over the team. LATEST STORIES Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Read Next Kidd became Milwaukee’s coach a few months after a group led by co-owners Wes Edens and Mark Lasry bought the team in April 2014. The Bucks traded two future second-round draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets, where Kidd had been coach, as compensation. He inherited a team that won 15 games in 2013-14. Under Kidd, the Bucks had a regular-season record of 139-152.Milwaukee is 9-12 since going a season-high five games over .500 on Dec. 9.Asked whether he believed Kidd should have been fired, Antetokounmpo, who reportedly offered to go to the team’s owners to try to save Kidd’s job, said: “It’s in the front office’s hands. Whatever they can do to make this team a championship level team, it can happen. If it’s me being traded, or the coach being fired.”Kidd is the second coach to be fired since the Bucks selected Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Antetokounpmo played one season under Larry Drew, who was dismissed in June 2014.“I was only 18,” Antetokoummpo said. “I didn’t even know how the NBA worked. (Kidd’s firing) hurts a little bit more because he was here for 3 1/2 years. He trusted me. He put the ball in my hands. He pushed me to be great.”ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts after a 24-second violation during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo grew from a reed-thin, inexperienced teenager into one of the NBA’s dominant players under the tutelage of coach Jason Kidd, whom the Milwaukee Bucks fired earlier in the week with the team mired in mediocrity despite high expectations.Kidd’s abrupt and surprising dismissal Monday has taken an emotional toll on the All-Star forward, affectionately known as the “Greek Freak.”ADVERTISEMENT NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding MOST READ Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:29Giannis Antetokounmpo powers Bucks in bounce back win over Celtics00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Antetokounmpo is expected to return to action when the Bucks take on Brooklyn in Milwaukee on Friday. He sat out the past two games as he continues to manage chronic pain in his right knee.“I feel great. I’m ready to go,” he said. “I feel energized.”Prunty said his players “gave good energy” in the first full practice since he took the reins.“These are a tough few days,” Prunty said. “We need to focus on whether we are getting better.”The Bucks have said that Prunty will be considered for the permanent job after the season. The hire will be especially crucial as the Bucks prepare to move into a new arena.“It’s hard to talk about that aspect of it right now,” Prunty said. “This isn’t about me, especially under these circumstances.”Malcolm Brogdon, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, praised Prunty’s positive demeanor.“In times of struggle, we tend to pout and take our foot off the gas. We can’t do that,” Brogdon said. “He’s a good coach to have when we are going through those struggles.” Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Madrid stunned by Leganes at home, eliminated from Copa 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting
“I’m hoping they can still deliver the punches. They were Xavier’s formidable trio during their time,” said team owner Alex Wongchuking, who also once played for Xavier sometime in the 70s.Tiu, who dabbles as anchor of CNN, will call the shots for the team and will get valuable help from nine-time PBA champion coach Jong Uichico.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:55Susan Roces casts vote early in San Juan02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss View comments Ex-Rain or Shine guard TY Tang will make a comeback from retirement—however briefly—as he teams up with a former high school teammate in Joseph Yeo for Mighty Sports.Tang and Yeo, former hotshots out of Xavier High School, will bolster the club team in the 30th Dubai International Basketball Championship.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsTang retired four years ago at a young age of 30 and has spent the past few years as coach of St. Benilde in the NCAA. Now 34, the 5-foot-6 Tang believes age is just a number, claiming he’s ready to prove he can still ball.Tang, Yeo and Charles Tiu formed the deadly trio for the Golden Stallions that waged epic battles with rival Chiang Kai Shek College in the golden era of Metro Tiong Lian League. Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Hwang makes pro debut at Splendido Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Former Xavier School stars hope to have a happy reunion in Dubai as they will see action for Mighty Sports in the 30th Dubai International Basketball Championship on Feb. 1 to 9.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES Lacson backs proposal to elect president and vice president in tandem MOST READ
Spain’s former Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez has been suspended with immediate effect after testing positive for banned growth hormones, cycling’s governing body said on Thursday.Sanchez, 39, won the 2008 Olympic road race in Beijing and five individual stages in the Vuelta a Espana between 2005 and 2007 as well as an individual stage on the 2011 Tour de France.He will now miss this year’s Vuelta, which begins on Saturday in Nimes, France.The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said in a statement on its website that Sanchez had been notified of an “Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) of GHRP-2*” from an out-of-competition test on Aug. 9.”The rider has the right to request and attend the analysis of the B sample. In accordance with UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the rider has been provisionally suspended until the adjudication of the affair,” the UCI said.GHRP-2 refers to GH-Releasing Peptides (GHRPs), which are classified as “Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances and Mimetics” on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s 2017 Prohibited List.Sanchez’s team BMC Racing immediately announced his suspension and said he would be replaced by Loic Vliegen in the Vuelta.”In accordance with BMC Racing Team’s zero tolerance policy and UCI regulation, Sanchez has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect,” BMC said in a statement.”Until the results of the B sample are provided, no further action will be taken. All riders and staff are held to the highest ethical standard and BMC Racing Team is extremely disappointed to share this news on the eve of the Vuelta a Espana.”advertisement
I recently read a very interesting article from The New York Times about how social science and behavioral economics was used to get out the vote. The article, “Academic Dream Team Helped Obama’s Effort,” details how experts like Robert Cialdini (whom I covered just this past week), formed a consortium that provided research-based ideas on motivating people to take certain actions (especially voting). Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or of any party, the advice the academics provided is very useful to all of us involved in the work of social change. We’re all in the business of compelling people to do things. So I wanted to pass on the most interesting tips.1. People favor candidates – and organizations! – that exhibit a combination of competence and warmth. You want to seem smart but also likable.2. When countering rumors (or myths), it’s a bad idea to repeat them. People may register a denial in the short term, but they only tend to remember the rumor or myth in the long term. Don’t deny or counter something – simply assert your competing notion.3. Use people’s sense of identity to influence behavior. In the election, volunteer canvassers said, “Mr. Jones, we know you’ve voted in the past,” to prompt future voting. We can do the same with volunteers or donors: “Mr. Jones, we know you’ve supported us in the past.” People want to stick to their past behaviors, so this can work well.4. Informal commitments help. Getting people to sign a card promising to vote increases likelihood to vote, for example. Pledging is also useful in fundraising!5. Tell people to make a plan. People are more likely to follow through on a promise if they have a plan, however simple. Ask people to specify when they’ll help you.6. Use social norms. When people were told others in their neighborhood planned to vote, it influenced them. Never forget the power of peer pressure – call out your supporters to inspire others to jump on board.For more fascinating tips on how this worked during the campaign, check out the article here.
This is a blog post I’ve been looking forward to writing for some time now.Today I’m pleased to share the launch of our redesigned Network for Good website featuring a fresh new look that highlights our best resources and pulls them into one central location. You can now visit www.networkforgood.com to access (and search) all of our content, including our webinars, guides and templates, The Nonprofit Marketing Blog, and Fundraising 123 articles. You can also find updated information on Network for Good’s fundraising products and services and learn how to improve your strategy for connecting with individual donors.A big thanks to the amazing team here at Network for Good, who imagined, designed, built, and launched the site in record time. Our appreciation also goes out to our many advisors and testers (including our customers, partners, readers, and sector experts) who helped us refine our approach over the last several weeks.We’re excited about our new site, and we hope you find it easier to navigate and more useful than ever. I’d love to hear what you think—drop me a line and let me know your questions and feedback.
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on July 1, 2013May 19, 2017Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)An expected 10,000 delegates will soon gather in Cape Town, South Africa for the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA). The conference, with the theme of Now more than ever: targeting zero, will be held from December 7-11, 2013. The final day to submit an abstract for review is July 5th, 2013.About the conference:Reflecting the conference theme “Now More Than Ever: Targeting Zero” and UNAIDS “Getting to zero” mantra of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths, HIV prevention will be an important feature of this year’s ICASA plenary sessions.Starting at the very beginning of the HIV prevention spectrum, Dr Chewe Luo, Senior Advisor on HIV and AIDS at UNICEF, will present cutting edge strategies for the elimination of Mother-to-Child transmission (MTCT) in Africa. Shifting focus to youth Emmanuel Etim, the young and dynamic Project Co-ordinator of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps, will in part address the road ahead for African youth to reach zero new HIV infections.Professor Christine Katlama, Head of the AIDS Unit, Department of Infectious Diseases at the renowned Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, will look at the long-term complications of living with HIV, including the impact that HIV drug resistance has on prevention efforts.UNFPA’s Senior Advisor on HIV, Ms. Bidia Deperthes, will provide the broadest overview of Africa’s current effective prevention programmes and tools…Read more here.Learn about the five conference tracks.Review the abstract submission guidelines.Take a look at the key conference dates.Stay tuned on Twitter at @icasaconference.Visit the general conference site.The Maternal Health Task Force is currently coordinating a blog series on maternal health, HIV, and AIDS. To view the series, click here.For additional information about maternal health, HIV, and AIDS, visit our topic page.If you are interested in sharing a guest blog post for our series on maternal health, HIV, and AIDS, please contact Kate Mitchell (email@example.com) or Samantha Lattof (firstname.lastname@example.org).Share this:
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on November 13, 2013February 2, 2017By: Kelsey Holt, Senior Project Manager, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The third biennial International Conference on Family Planning kicked off this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with almost 3,000 attendees from all over the world gathering in the remarkable African Union building. Delegates are seeking inspiration from leaders in the field, youth, and colleagues, and an opportunity to share research and best practices related to the vision of “Full Access, Full Choice” in family planning. The speeches given during the opening session of the conference Tuesday on sustained political commitment emphasized family planning as a tool to reduce maternal mortality and protect women’s rights. The successes of Ethiopia’s health care system in reducing “unmet need” for contraception in a short period of time— in part thanks to an impressive health extension worker program— and the country’s commitment to reproductive health and women’s equality were celebrated widely. John Kerry and other world leaders also urged renewal of the various commitments made to achieving universal reproductive health access for all beginning in the 1990’s as well as the recent FP2020 goal of reaching 120 million new contraceptive users by the year 2020. Against this backdrop of political commitments and acknowledgement of the importance of family planning to women’s health and equality, the many subsequent conference sessions about quality of care hold much promise for real progress and action towards these goals. The importance of quality of care was described by Anrudh Jain on Wednesday in a session hosted by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation on quality of care as the “leaking bucket problem” whereby women who manage to make it to contraceptive services at least once do not always continue their relationship with the health care system after receiving sub-standard information, counseling, and method choice—or even disrespect or coercion. These women represent a substantial proportion of those with unmet need for contraception who are past users failed by existing methods and services. The challenge of ensuring respect, dignity, and adequate choice for women receiving contraception counseling and services around the world persists. Moving beyond access to quality and a focus on respectful care and informed choice seems particularly critical in the context of new approaches reported on at the conference to increase contraceptive uptake through financial incentives to women, health workers, and health facilities, or goals for uptake of a certain volume of long-acting methods. If not done carefully, these innovative programs threaten to create perverse incentives for systems and providers to coerce women into methods that are not right for them and must be carefully studied to ensure we do not sacrifice women’s rights for fertility and contraceptive prevalence targets. As emphasized by Ms. Theo Sowa, Chief Executive Officer of the African Women Development Fund, in Wednesday’s opening plenary, we need to challenge ourselves to do things differently: “If we are complacent, we do not achieve the things we need to achieve in the time we need to achieve them.” Quality of care is one area where we cannot afford to be complacent—and this includes tackling the hard issues of ensuring respectful treatment to ensure informed choice during contraceptive care. The centrality of the issue of quality at the ICFP is promising for our ability as a global community to acknowledge the skeletons of population control in our closet and proactively move towards a future where women of all ages and backgrounds have access to high quality counseling and services to meet their contraceptive needs and contribute toward the fulfillment of their rights and the goals originally conceived of during the Cairo conference in 1994.Share this: