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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs