News / Africa

Report Shows Bleak Progress in Improving African Women’s Health

FILE - African women waiting for medical care.FILE - African women waiting for medical care.
x
FILE - African women waiting for medical care.
FILE - African women waiting for medical care.
Selah Hennessy
Women are responsible for up to 80 percent of all food production in Africa, but they bear a disproportionately large share of the global burden of disease and death, according to a World Health Organization report launched in London on Friday, coinciding with International Women’s Day.
 
“The African region is making very slow progress towards improved women's health," said Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, World Health Organization's director for Africa.

WHO's new report, “Addressing the Challenges of Women’s Health in Africa,” surveys a range of statistical information about women’s health in Africa, and the picture it paints is bleak.

Maternal mortality is a major concern.  The region accounts for more than half of all maternal deaths worldwide.  In sub-Saharan Africa a woman’s lifetime chance of dying as a result of childbirth is 1 in 42.  Compare that to Europe, where the rate is about 1 in 2,900.

Women in Africa contract cervical cancer at the highest rate in the world -  double the global average.

And every year around two million girls between the ages of four and 12 are subjected to female genital mutilation.

The World Health Organization says the question of how to improve women’s health in Africa must be re-examined completely - and at the heart of that should be a fundamental boost in the status of women in society.
 
Sociocultural factors are key, says Sambo.

“There are other dimensions that need to be addressed, like women's empowerment and also improving literacy, improving the economic status, addressing some cultural challenges that could overall improve the well-being of women," he said.

The report says more resources should be targeted toward health concerns.

In April 2001, African Union countries met in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. Delegates pledged to increase their governments' funding for health programs to at least 15 percent of their national budgets.
 
Since 2003, however, average health spending by African countries has hovered at around just 10 percent. Thirteen African countries spend less on health programs now than they did in 2001.

WHO says donor spending varies dramatically from state to state - from as much as $115 to less than $5 per person per year.

What’s more, says Sambo, women’s health is often a low priority in a region with wide-ranging health concerns.

“Africa is also affected by other public health priority problems like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, child health," he said. "Maternal health is a priority that has not been sufficiently addressed, both at national and international levels.”

The report says African women account for more than half of female deaths worldwide due to communicable and noncommunicable diseases, maternal and perinatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More