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Posts Tagged ‘advocacy’

Progress at Snail’s Pace since Beijing

In Women's Health on May 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

Melanne Verveer, the U.S. Ambassador at large for global women’s issues at the Department of State, delivered a sobering message on the progress of women’s health at the Penn-ICOWHI’s groundbreaking 18th Conference April 7-10 in Philadelphia.

There have been few advances in making women’s health worldwide since the 1995 international conference on women’s issues in Beijing, she said.

“The progress since Beijing on women’s health has not been as significant as other areas,” said Verveer who delayed an overseas trip to attend the conference as the keynote speaker.

Among the alarming statistics she cited:

  • AIDs remains the leading cause of death among women age 15-44 worldwide. “Today the face of AIDs is the face of a woman,” she said.
  • Unacceptable high rate of maternal death linked to early forced marriages, lack of education, lack of access to health services.
  • Adolescent girls are the most vulnerable. They represent high risk for early pregnancy, birth rate highest among them.
  • A woman in Africa has a 1 in 26 chance of dying in childbirth; in developing nations, it is 1 in 7,500.
  • More than 500,000 women worldwide die in childbirth every year.

But there is good news, too.

  • The prevention of mother to child HIV transmission is increasing dramatically because of new drugs.
  • The age of marriage has been raised around the world.
  • More girls are in school.
  • Violence against women is being criminalized in many countries.

Nevertheless, Verveer said there is plenty of work to do to make the lives of women and girls better, increase their access to health care and expand their life expectancies.

“When women and girls have access to health care services, they are valued more, they are educated. They are likely to have smaller families,” she said. “The most effective development investments that can be made are those made for women.”

Improving access to health care for women improves the family, the community and a nation’s productivity, she added.

“Our work is far from done,” she said. “Women’s rights are human rights, and we cannot settle for anything less.”


Women’s Health in the Urban Community: NIH Perspective

In Women's Health on May 3, 2010 at 11:47 am

Making women’s health a priority doesn’t start in the ghettos and slums of urban America or around the world. It starts at the research level, according to Dr. Vivian W. Pinn, associate director for research on women’s health at the National Institutes of Health.

She spoke at the Penn-ICOWHI 18th Conference April 7-10 in Philadelphia on the importance of paying attention to gender differences in research.

It is important to focus on women’s health beyond the reproductive years and to look at women’s health over their lifespan. It’s essential to look at disparities among different populations to really make an impact on women’s health, she said in her talk.

Some of the simplest problems should be focused on. For example, how do lifestyle factors expose women to more diseases? Do women get more chronic diseases if they cook on open fireplaces indoors?

She also talked about reversing the brain drain of scientists who come to the United States and other western nations to study and develop their own expertise. She emphasized the importance of encouraging these experts to return to their own communities to work.

Kate Kinslow, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Hospital, introduced Dr. Pinn at the session underscoring the importance research has in helping lift women’s health out of the backwaters.

“Half of our population cannot be left behind,” Kinslow said.

A Safe Haven for Abused Women

In Women's Health on April 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Making sure women are healthy in America is a complex challenge, not just about making sure they are well-fed, housed and getting good medical care.

There are plenty of environmental issues, too, that can make or break health issues for women in urban areas.

The 18th Annual International Congress on Women’s Health Issues focuses on women’s health and urban areas. And one of the big domestic issues is helping abused women find a safe haven and get their lives back together again.

One session at the four-day conference is studying housing intervention for abused women and their children in Mulnomah County, Oregon. It looks at one way to get women who have suffered abuse out of a bad environment and back on track.

The session is part of a study from Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing on safe and affordable housing for women surviving violence.

The issue will be discussed and debated at the track session. The bottom line: the importance of providing housing stability to women after they have experienced a physical or sexual assault.

You may argue that this is about more than just health but safe housing is a big component of bettering women’s health.

One woman told the study: “There is nothing in this world more important than being able to provide housing for your family.”

Healthy Babies

In Women's Health on April 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm

No matter where you are in the world – in Philadelphia’s inner city or the teeming slums of Cairo, the urgency to have healthy births and babies is paramount.

Sessions at the 18th Annual International Congress on Women’s Health Issues focuses on programs to keep women healthy and make sure their children are, too.

One session at the conference is looking at how working mothers in Bangkok are able to continue breast feeding their babies, dealing with balancing the pressure from work and breastfeeding.

Another looks at health care programs in Texas for mostly foreign-born Hispanic women who did not receive early prenatal care. The result: a high infant mortality rate.

That program in Houston looks at the importance of using a community to empower women, given them information about their health and increase access to health care.

The mothers formed community coalitions with churches, local businesses, elected officials and the media to get the word out about healthy pregnancies for healthy individuals.

The conference also looks at a program in Kenya where medical and community officials are working toward humanizing the childbirth practice, establishing something as simple as waiting rooms to better accommodate clients and allowing women to be accompanied and choose a position during childbirth.

Any country and every community has an obligation to provide the best care possible for their pregnant women and to make sure their health and the health of their babies is not affected by a bad delivery system. The conference is taking a look at childbearing in many ways to find new programs and commitments for healthy children.

Domestic Violence Has No Borders

In Women's Health on March 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

The 18th Annual International Congress on Women’s Health Issues is focusing on domestic violence, one of many issues it’s studying that affects women’s health.

Domestic violence against women is spread worldwide, but its characteristics vary depending on social and cultural factors.

Whether it happens in Philadelphia or in Brazil, its impact on women is the same: It affects their health and well being. It is a public health issue.

One session will look at the impact on women in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where domestic violence was reported by 37 percent of the mothers interviewed.

Another session looks at domestic violence in Uganda where nearly 80 percent of the women experience some sort of domestic violence such as sexual assault, physical violence, economic, verbal or emotional abuse.

And a third focuses on domestic violence against women in Bangladesh who are victims of abuse inflicted by a husband on an unintended pregnancy and who subsequently terminated the pregnancy.

Domestic violence perpetrated by a husband is a violation of women’s rights and is a pervasive global public health concern no matter where it occurs.

The conference will look at this issue – one of many it is studying and plans to offer strategies to help put end to it whether it’s in the slums of Uganda or apartment dwellings of America’s cities.

— Judi Hasson

Speaking of Women’s Health

In Women's Health on March 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm

There’s a new challenge facing health officials around the world and in the United States as women move into urban areas and face new health crises as they move into cities in many cases just to survive.

The 18th Annual International Congress on Women’s Health Issues is bringing together experts in the field and on the ground from all over the world.

They will speak on a wide variety of health issues facing women both domestically and globally and look for solutions to its many problems.

Among the speakers at the conference:

  • Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues at the Department of State
  • Patricia Davidson, PhD, Director, Cardiovascular and Chronic Care Centre Curtin University of Technology
    School of Nursing and Midwifery in Sydney, Australia
  • Julio Frenk, MD, MPH, PhD, Dean Harvard School of Public Health, Professor of Public Health and International Development
  • Sheela Patel, Founder and Director Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres in Mumbai, India
  • Judy Nursigan, executive director and Founder, Our Bodies Ourselves
  • Susan Purdin, Deputy Health Director International Rescue Committee

Many others will be speaking at plenary sessions throughout the four-day event. Check out the schedule of events for a list of experts.

The Right Message, the Right Messenger

In Women's Health on March 23, 2010 at 3:31 pm

It takes more than just a program in an urban location to make a difference in women’s health.

It takes advocacy to change stale policies and specific ideas to advance smart programs

One panel at the 18th Annual International Congress on Women’s Health Issues will look at advocacy groups in the US and the importance of strategies for successful initiatives.

It’s called Advancing Women’s Health in Urban Environments Through Public Health Advocacies. Panelists on the Thursday, April 8, session represent groups involved in 3 key issues in women’s health:

  •  Maternal and child health
  • Intimate partner violence and environmental health
  • Environmental health and justice

Women’s health in urban environments involves more than just dispensing medical care. It includes prevention, intervention and advocacy, issues that will be underscored by this panel.

The Underbelly of Women’s Health

In Women's Health on March 19, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Like it or not, women from any kind of social status need health care, whether they are sex workers or in prison, too.

Two sessions at this four-day conference underscore just that issue.

At a session on providing health care behind prison walls, the conference looks at the health care needs of incarcerated women – a large and steadily growing number.

The second session studies sex workers, the dangers they face and how to create a safe and healthy environment for them.

These seminars are a clear reminder that women’s health reaches far beyond the confines of easy medical practice where patients have health insurance and healthy lifestyles.

As simple as toilets and housing

In Women's Health on March 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Women around the world face a myriad of health issues that are best-served by gender-specific responses to issues such as cancer, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and depression.

We’ve gathered an ‘A’ list of experts to talk about these issues, how they are exasperated for urban dwellers and what steps to take to deal with it.

Among the speakers is Sheela Patel, the founder and Director of Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centers, an NGO established in 1984 to address the problems of women pavement dwellers in Mumbai, India. Under Patel’s leadership, SPARC has been responsible for the construction of housing for over 8,500 families and over 500,000 toilets and latrines.

It sounds like something as simple as toilets and housing can solve women’s health problems, but Patel will talk about the difficult steps to get there to help thousands of poor women in India.

–         Judi Hasson

Can a latrine really make a difference in improving women’s health?

In Women's Health on March 15, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Penn- ICOWHI conference

The 18th annual international women’s health conference April 7-10

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Can a latrine really make a difference in improving women’s health?

In many parts of the world, it certainly can. It’s one of many issues that are the focus of this year’s conference on women’s health issues in urban settings around the world from the streets of Mumbai to health disparities in American cities like Philadelphia.

The lynchpin of all this is the impact of urban environments on women’s health. The 18th Congress on women’s health issues “Cities and Women’s Health: Global Perspectives” will look at all these issues and new strategies to enhance women’s health in cities.

It will look at health disparities around the world that impact women’s health. And it will investigate strategies to make their lives better and healthier.

The scope of the Penn-ICOWHI 18th International Congress is both global and interdisciplinary. Sessions look at diseases and conditions of women and girls in urban environments, the risk and resiliency of urban women and girls, the importance of educating girls and keeping them in school to empower them and how to foster health in urban environments.

–         Judi Hasson