Penn Nursing

Women and Health: A Comprehensive Focus for Global Health

In Women's Health on May 3, 2010 at 11:45 am

Worldwide urbanization provides special challenges for the health of women around the world, Julio Frenk, the dean of the School of Public Health at Harvard told Penn-ICOWHI 18th Conference April 7-10 in Philadelphia.

Some of the most pressing challenges for health officials involve women’s health and cities, and this is a challenge that must be understood and dealt with to provide better health care, he said.

“The world has become a neighborhood,” Frenk said. “Global health is not foreign health.  It’s about interdependence when it comes to health matters. We really have become a single neighborhood. We are in the midst of a health transition unlike anything the world has seen before.”

Nevertheless, he said the good things about worldwide urbanization are balanced by difficult issues.

Effects of urbanization on health are complex. There are growing numbers of common infections, maternal mortality and the proliferation of violence.

There are many health challenges associated with globalization including AIDS, influenza, climate change and harmful life styles.

In many cities, there’s limited access to drinking water. There’s bad sewage and common infections grow. Urban populations show higher rates of non-communicative diseases such as smoking, Frenk said.

These are among the most pressing challenges facing women in our global urban society, he said.

What does this mean for women? Among other things, there needs to be a broader approach to women’s health than just maternal health, Frenk said.

“We all have dual citizenship – in the Kingdom of the healthy and Kingdom of the sick,” he added.


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