That is the plea from Africa. Gaston Asitaki, a journalist and lawyer from the Democratic Republic of Congo, writes:

No one can fail to weep at a stillborn child or the death of a mother in childbirth. But it is absurd; it is criminally irresponsible, for the United States and international aid agencies to argue that the solution to the DRC’s calamitous maternal mortality is family planning.

The real solution is quality basic health care. Not conferences about foreign aid. Not plans drawn up in air-conditioned offices in New York. We need real health care. We need $8.4 million worth of penicillin, not $8.4 million worth of condoms.

Asitaki continues:

I firmly believe that what the DRC needs to turn around the appalling statistics on maternal deaths is good nutrition, basic health care, good obstetric care during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. In industrialized countries, birth-related deaths declined with the development of better obstetric techniques and improvements in the overall health of women. In England and Wales, for example, the maternal mortality rate dropped from more than 550 pregnancy-deaths per 100,000 births in 1931 to less than 50 in 1960, through the use of antibiotics, blood transfusions and the management of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy…

Rather revving up the engines of family planning, foreign aid donors should think of ways to bring modern medicine and better health care to the DRC.

Remember: every dollar spent on condoms is a dollar that cannot be spent on penicillin. Or clean water. Or vaccinations. Or micronutrients. And it is not enough to spend more on foreign aid if some of it is still going to “family planning” because every dollar spent on condoms and abortion is not money going to nutrition and real medicine.

Is Bob Rae, Keith Martin and Michael Ignatieff listening?