By : Regina Taylor
For Women’s History Month, it’s important to bring awareness to issues in women’s medical care and educate ourselves on health disparities that affect women around the world. While there has been much progress, there is still a lot of work to be done to get to where we need to be.
When it comes to maternal health, there is much progress to be made with improving outcomes, especially for minority and/or low-income women. Approximately 810 women die every day from pregnancy and childbirth related causes, and the worst part is that these cases are largely preventable (Women’s Health). While most of these deaths occur due to lack of resources in low and middle-income countries, there has been a shocking uptick in maternal mortality in the United States for Black and American Indian women, who are 2-3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related outcomes than White women, according to the CDC. These shocking differences remain consistent across income and education levels, leading to a conclusion that there needs to be more done to address implicit bias and improve patient-provider relationships. About half a million women die from cervical cancer and another half a million from breast cancer annually (Bustreo, 2015). This is a shocking statistic that affects women from all backgrounds, but especially those from low-income countries where screening and treatments are unavailable. Other issues of concern include HPV and HIV/AIDs, with young women accounting for a large portion of new cases (Bustreo, 2015).
It is important to take into account the sociocultural factors that influence the health of women around the world, including power structures that favor men’s rights, a lack of access to education and reproductive health resources, and high rates of violence against women that play a major role in women’s health, according to the World Health Organization. These factors make women, especially those from low-income countries, more at risk for reproductive health problems, physical and sexual violence, and sexually transmitted diseases. While there are major international goals to improve women’s health that some governmental policies and programs have addressed, there are still high rates of childhood marriage and illiteracy, especially in developing countries, that have affected and continue to affect the health of women and girls (Nour, 2008).
Some things to look forward to in Women’s health are the increase in sexual and reproductive health services, as well as global efforts to strengthen the healthcare systems of developing countries. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) created by the United Nations prioritize health issues over a given period of time as a kind of international “to-do” list, and eliminating sex-based disparities and reducing maternal mortality have both been at the forefront (Nour, 2008). There also has been higher levels of both school enrollment for girls and women’s involvement in politics in some countries– two critical issues that influence health. We still have a long way to go when it comes to women achieving equality in many societies, but there is hope; and this hope requires a renewed commitment to improving women’s lives around the world.
Nour, N. (2008). An introduction to global women’s health. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2492587/
Bustreo, Flavia MD, Ten top issues for women’s health. (2015). Retrieved March 03, 2021, from https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/ten-top-issues-for-women%27s-health
Racial and ethnic disparities continue in pregnancy-related deaths. (2019, September 06). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0905-racial-ethnic-disparities-pregnancy-deaths.html
Women’s health. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from https://www.who.int/health-topics/women-s-health/