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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid