Women's Health

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Leaders Should Push For More Frontline Health Workers

“Innovation can transform a company, a culture, and even the world. But innovation doesn’t have to come in the form of a gadget. It can come in the form of a smiling neighbor knocking at a family’s door, toting some basic supplies and the skills to address matters of life and death,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece.

Number Of Breast, Cervical Cancer Cases Rose Significantly Over Past 30 Years, Global Study Says

“The number of cases and deaths from breast and cervical cancer is rising in most countries across the world, especially in poorer nations where more women are dying at younger ages, according to a global study of the diseases” by researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Reuters reports. Between 1980 and 2010, breast cancer cases more than doubled worldwide, rising from 641,000 cases in 1980 to 1.6 million cases in 2010, while deaths from breast cancer rose from 250,000 a year to 425,000 a year, according to the study, which was published in the Lancet on Thursday, Reuters notes. The “number of cervical cancer cases rose from 378,000 cases in 1980 to 454,000 in 2010, and deaths from cervical cancer rose at almost the same pace as cases,” the news service writes (Kelland, 9/15). The majority of new cases occurred among women under age 50 in low-income nations, BBC News writes (Briggs, 9/14).

Intrauterine Devices May Lower Risk Of Cervical Cancer Among Users, Study Shows

Contraceptive intrauterine devices (IUDs), also called coils, “might actually protect women against developing cervical cancer even though they don’t stop the infection that commonly leads to the disease,” according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Lancet Oncology, Reuters reports. “The results show that coil use did not affect the risk of [human papillomavirus (HPV)] infection, but was linked to a markedly lower risk of cervix cancer for both major types of the disease — reducing the likelihood of developing squamous-cell carcinoma by 44 percent and adenocarcinoma or adenosquamous carcinoma by 54 percent,” the news agency writes.

U.N. Report Highlights Innovations Aimed At Improving Maternal And Child Health

PBS NewsHour’s blog “The Rundown” examines a “report from the U.N.’s Every Woman, Every Child Innovation Working Group, out in the Lancet Monday, [which] looks at some of the promising and innovative projects” aimed at improving maternal and child health. “More than 350,000 women die each year around the globe from complications of childbirth, and three million children die in the first month of life,” according to the blog (Miller, 9/12). The report “was prepared as part of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Every Woman Every Child’ Initiative, a global strategy for improving women and children’s health, launched last year,” according to a U.N. Foundation press release (9/12).

Ghana Health Official Urges Media To Help Change Negative Perceptions About Pregnancy

Speaking at a workshop on maternal morbidity and mortality in Korofidua, Ghana on Thursday, which was organized for journalists in the region, acting Eastern Regional Director of Health Services Larbi Addo challenged the media to help change negative perceptions about pregnancy and child-bearing in an effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the country, GhanaWeb reports. “He said the campaign to reduce maternal mortality was a shared responsibility and asked the media to support the health sector in educating the public on the subject,” the news service reports.

Government Funding Crisis In Swaziland Disrupts Supply Of HIV/AIDS Supplies

“An acute government funding crisis in Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, is disrupting supplies of HIV/AIDS drugs and hampering the fight against the virus in the country with the world’s highest infection rate, Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) said Friday,” Reuters reports. “Stocks of testing kits and related chemicals were ‘almost dry,’ making it next-to-impossible to chart the progress of the 70,000 patients on therapy or more than 130,000 other people carrying the virus, the aid agency said,” according to Reuters.

George W. Bush Institute Forms Public-Private Partnership To Combat Cervical, Breast Cancers In Developing World

The George W. Bush Institute is forming a public-private partnership to use PEPFAR’s existing infrastructure of doctors, nurses and clinics to expand screening and treatment of women for cervical cancer and perform breast cancer education in the developing world, the Wall Street Journal reports. The goal of the partnership, which also includes the State Department, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and UNAIDS, “is to reduce the number of cervical cancer deaths by 25 percent in five years in countries where it scales up screening and treatment,” WSJ writes, adding, “Its initial investment will be $75 million.”

Lift Restrictions On Abortion Under Helms Amendment As Applied To Rape Victims

Though President Barack Obama signed an executive order on his third day in office to “lif[t] the odious ‘global gag rule’ that denied federal money for family planning work abroad to any group that performed abortions or counseled about the procedure, even with its own money,” he left standing a policy that is “an overly restrictive interpretation of the [1973] Helms amendment.” The policy “imposes similar speech restrictions and bans using foreign aid money for abortions — even to save a woman’s life or in cases of rape in war zones like Congo, Sudan and Burma,” a New York Times editorial states.

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