Looking to the future of women’s health


Photo credit; Chris Herwig, Merlin

Statistics on women’s health are not easy to stomach. The World Health Organization tells us that every minute a woman dies from complications related to childbirth and pregnancy. For every woman that dies, more than 20 are seriously ill or disabled. That is nearly 530,000 women dead each year and millions with long term health problems.

UNAIDS tells us that in sub-Sahara Africa, 61per cent of newly infected people with HIV are women. Of all the new infections in young people, 75 per cent are in young women. UNFPA say that 200 million women worldwide have no access to contraceptives. One third of all pregnancies are unintended and mostly unwanted. Every year, 20 million unsafe abortions are carried out, with half a million women dying as a result. There are more than 300 million disabled women in the world, 75 per cent of whom live in developing countries. Most experience huge discrimination in terms of accessing healthcare including sexual and reproductive health services.

The figures are grim. It begs the question, what is the future for women’s health? This edition of Health Exchange contains articles about people trying to improve women’s health in innovative ways.  Two strong themes emerge. The first is about women taking the initiative in difficult circumstances, showing leadership and making decisions about improving their own health and environment. You will see this in articles on maternal mortality, disability, and HIV and AIDS. The second theme is about people working to address neglected issues in women’s health and there are articles about older women refugees, community-driven healthcare in isolated areas, and female condoms.

We value your opinion on the topics and themes. If you want to share your experiences and analysis with other readers in the next issue, please email; healthexchange@healthlink.org.uk or phone +44 (0)207 549 0240. We would love to hear from you.

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