Women's Health

 {Photo credit: Associated Press/Aurelie Marrier d’Unienvil}Women celebrate as their country is declared Ebola free in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015.Photo credit: Associated Press/Aurelie Marrier d’Unienvil

When 18-year-old Ianka Barbosa was 7 months pregnant, an ultrasound showed the baby had an abnormally small head, a dreaded sign of microcephaly due to Zika infection.  Upon hearing the news, Ianka’s husband fled. In her poor neighborhood of Campina Grande, Brazil, Ianka soon became a young mother alone.

As Ianka’s baby Sophia grows, she may never walk, or talk. She could develop seizures before she reaches six months.  By the end of the year there may be a staggering 3,000 Sophias in Brazil – mostly in the poorest places.

Epidemics erase the gains women have achieved.

The world has suffered a series of “Zikas”—virtually unknown diseases that seemed to come from nowhere and explode with devastating consequences for families and entire countries – before Zika, Ebola, SARS, AIDS, and others.

Epidemics don’t just leave behind a death toll.  They can demolish the gains women have made in maternal, newborn, child, adolescent, and reproductive health—gains that have been propelled by women’s rights and empowerment. 

{Photo credit: Mark Tuschman.}Photo credit: Mark Tuschman.

#HealthforAll. Everywhere. ]" width="200">. Everywhere. Post updated: December 9, 2014, 11:30 am EST

On Friday, December 12, 2014, a global coalition will launch the first-ever Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day) and call for universal health coverage (UHC) to be a cornerstone of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and a priority for all nations. UHC Day encourages civil society organizations from around the globe to publicly display support of UHC and health for all on Friday. Over four hundred organizations have already joined the call.

 {Photo credit: Jennifer Acio/MSH.}Last year, a group of community members queued up to register for different services at Budaka Health Center IV on International Women's Day 2013.Photo credit: Jennifer Acio/MSH.

MSH staff and projects participated in International Women's Day celebrations in dozens of countries around the world. We share some of our stories with photos and excerpts from South Africa, Uganda, and Afghanistan.

Uganda Celebrates

STRIDES for Family Health joined the Ugandan government to commemorate International Women's Day in Kumi district. This year’s theme was “In partnership with men and boys for empowerment of women and girls in Uganda.” STRIDES supported village health teams’ participation in the celebration and distributed TOMS shoes before the event to motivate mothers to access services at health facilities.

[Women leaders access health information provided by STRIDES during the International Women's Day event in Kayunga district.] {Photo credit: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH}Women leaders access health information provided by STRIDES during the International Women's Day event in Kayunga district.Photo credit: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH

 

 {Photo Credit: Abel Helebo/MSH.}Silenat with her three-year-old child, her husband Yirga, and Tadele, a TB focal person at the Keraniyo Health Center.Photo Credit: Abel Helebo/MSH.

Silenat Yihune, a 40-year-old woman, mother, and housewife, lives in a remote region of Huletejuenesie District, Ethiopia, which is approximately 20 kilometers from the closest health facility. For nine months Silenat suffered from a cough, chest pain, fever, and weight loss, but was unable to receive treatment. As is common among Ethiopian families, Silenat was economically dependent upon her husband. He refused to pay for her travel to the distant health facility. Several months later, Silenat’s husband, Yirga, started to show similar symptoms and visited the Keraniyo Health Center, where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB).

Keraniyo Health Center is one of the health facilities in Huletejunesie district supported by the PEPFAR-funded, USAID project, Help Ethiopia Address Low TB Performance (HEAL TB), led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH).

Celia Tusiime Kakande. {Photo: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH.}Photo: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH.

For most of my life, women in Uganda---as in most countries---were treated as inferior to men. Girls were less likely to be educated than their brothers, and had little control over the direction of their lives. Many girls grew up being told how to act, eat, and talk; many women were regarded as little more than domestic caregivers. However, in 1986 the ruling government radically changed the dynamics of Ugandan women in global development and their participation in decision-making at all levels of government. This International Women’s Day we, in Uganda, are celebrating this transformation with a theme of “connecting girls, inspiring futures,” and wishing women around the world similar progress and success.

Women Lead: Government

Women in Uganda now hold more leadership positions than ever before—35 percent of the seats in Parliament are now occupied by women, and our Speaker of Parliament and Minister of Health are women. The introduction of universal primary education has allowed more girls to begin their schooling, and affirmative action at the university level has provided more women the opportunity to realize their dreams for fulfilling professional careers.

Celia Tusiime Kakande. {Photo: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH.}Photo: Tadeo Atuhura/MSH.

For most of my life, women in Uganda---as in most countries---were treated as inferior to men. Girls were less likely to be educated than their brothers, and had little control over the direction of their lives. Many girls grew up being told how to act, eat, and talk; many women were regarded as little more than domestic caregivers. However, in 1986 the ruling government radically changed the dynamics of Ugandan women in global development and their participation in decision-making at all levels of government. This International Women’s Day we, in Uganda, are celebrating this transformation with a theme of “connecting girls, inspiring futures,” and wishing women around the world similar progress and success.

Women Lead: Government

Women in Uganda now hold more leadership positions than ever before—35 percent of the seats in Parliament are now occupied by women, and our Speaker of Parliament and Minister of Health are women. The introduction of universal primary education has allowed more girls to begin their schooling, and affirmative action at the university level has provided more women the opportunity to realize their dreams for fulfilling professional careers.

Nehema Bubake, seen recovering here at the Kaziba General Reference Hospital, is full of optimism now that her fistula has been repaired. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, many women suffer complications during pregnancy and delivery, including obstetric fistula. Prolonged labor may result in a hole (“fistula”) between a woman’s birth canal and bladder or lower intestine, resulting in chronic leaking of urine or feces. This, in turn, leads to social isolation as the women can’t keep themselves clean, are ashamed of their condition, and withdraw from society. Many women and their families believe that this condition is due to a curse, leading to further separation from the community.

World Contraception Day 2012World Contraception Day 2012

Cross-posted on the K4Health blog. K4Health is a USAID project, led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs (JHU-CCP), with partners FHI-360 and Management Sciences for Health (MSH).

Worldwide 222 million women have an unmet need for modern contraceptives. That means of those women wanting to delay or prevent pregnancy, 222 million are not using contraceptives.

This number is burned into my brain: 222 million. Let’s put this in perspective.

Currently in the US, there are roughly 156 million women, so the number of women worldwide without access to contraceptives is greater than the entire population of women in the US.

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