Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

WHEC Update - July, 2007

A Newsletter of worldwide activity of Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)
July 2007; Vol. 2, No. 7

Before & After Issue

Our annual Before & After issue, perhaps more than any other issue through the year, reaffirms our belief in possibility. The role of the health sector in reducing maternal mortality is to ensure the availability of good-quality essential services to all women during pregnancy and childbirth. No single player has the funding, research and delivery capabilities required to solve problems on a global scale. With increasing globalization and the many problems being faced by all, particularly developing countries, it is clear that alliances and the pooling of knowledge play a central role in development. It is our belief that a global research alliance will foster dialogue within and across various international organizations and will generally encourages international cooperation in the field of science and technology. 20 million readers; 170 countries; 1 address - WomensHealthSection.com - allow us the opportunity to present the most popular publication in women's health. We had started this publication with only 5 Sections in 2002 and by the end of 2007 we will have 15 Sections dealing with various aspects of women's health and healthcare. Carve your own path. Start your unique experience with the Editorial Board, Advisory Council and Physician's Board of WomensHealthSection.com, where the experience is everything. Everyday, a physician defines the practice of medicine to healthcare consumers. Every interaction with a patient determines the perspectives that patients comes away with, and that moment, that perspective has the potential to endure for a lifetime. An enduring moment in the healthcare experience.

In 2002 when we started this project, we did not have much, just a computer and a dream. And the computer was the easy part. Now we hope and plan on making second part easier for the next generation. Obstacles that limit women's access to healthcare - such as distance from home to appropriate health facilities, lack of transport, and financial and social barriers - must be removed. Legislation that supports women's access to care must be formulated. The support of families and communities is the key to reducing maternal mortality. Input from a wide range of groups and individuals is therefore essential, including community leaders, women's groups, youth groups, other local associations, and healthcare professionals. I can't wait to get started. Perfection is black & white; there is no gray. WomensHealthSection.com is designed with such clarity, proving a clear distinction and mark of excellence. As far as vision extends, from USA to Australia, such precision brings with it peace of mind founded on a legacy of achievement and recognition of a simple truth - a knowledge pool for global good. So come along with us and be inspired.

The Gateway
Rita Luthra, MD

Your Questions, Our Reply:

Are there racial and ethnic disparities in women's health in USA? What are the recommendations of WHEC in this area?

Understanding Health Disparities: Approximately 44 million women in the United States, nearly one third of all women, are of racial and ethnic minority groups. African-American women and women of Hispanic origin together comprise roughly one quarter of the total population of U.S. women. The largest segment of the immigrant population in the United States is from Latin America. It is important to note that race and ethnicity are primarily social characteristics much more than they are biologic categories. Significant racial and ethnic disparities exist in women's health. These health disparities largely result from differences in socioeconomic status and health-insurance status. Many health disparities are directly related to inequalities in income, housing, safety, education, and job opportunities. The current U.S. healthcare financing paradigm inadvertently may contribute to disparities in health outcomes.

The United States is the only developed country that does not extend healthcare as a right of citizenship. Healthcare in US is driven by market forces; the ultimate goal of the healthcare business is to maximize profit. Access to health insurance coverage and care and utilization of care is significantly different for minority women. Uninsured women receive no preventive services and more than twice as likely as health-insured women to begin prenatal care late or not at all. Language and literacy barriers interfere with physician-patient communication and can contribute to culturally driven mistrust of the healthcare system and to reduce adherence to healthcare provider recommendations. Use of traditional or folk remedies can interfere with science-based treatments. Elimination of disparities in women's health and healthcare requires a comprehensive, multilevel strategy that involves all members of society.

Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC) strongly supports the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in the health and the healthcare of women. We encourage healthcare professionals to engage in the activities to help achieve this goal. We believe and are advocate of universal access to basic affordable healthcare. The desire for a healthier and better world in which to live our lives and raise our children is common to all people and all generations.

About NGO Association with the UN:

Chairpersons of UN Committees and their views on various issues:

Mona Juul, Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, was elected Chairperson of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on 18 July 2006. Her views on some of the issues on First committee's agenda: With so many nuclear issues in the news this past year, nuclear disarmament was understandably at the forefront of the First Committee's work during this session. Several delegates expressed concern about the "dual-use character" of scientific and technological advancements, notably in the realm of nuclear energy. The First Committee recently approved a draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. In such high-stakes issues, where it only takes one party to endanger an entire region, how effective are measures that are not universally accepted? While not addressing the specific situation in the Middle East, in general terms, that measures which are not universally accepted are less affective than those that are subscribed to by all. This is why we can never give up achieving consensus resolutions to security problems, even if these problems are as protracted as in the Middle East.

A Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, specifically condemning the recent nuclear tests by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, was adopted this year by a vote of 175 to 2. Many people believe this to be one of the biggest steps that the United Nations has taken towards a true nuclear weapons ban. In your view, what is the future of this comprehensive ban? A vast majority of States call for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Political realities in a few capitals will most likely prevent this from happening in the near future. Meanwhile, it is important to call on all nuclear-weapons States to abide by a moratorium on nuclear testing. Conventional arms-as opposed to small arms and light weapons, which have been a big focus in recent years-re-emerged as a topic of discussion during this session. What are conventional arms? How will the newly adopted "arms trade treaty" shape a UN strategy for modern arms control? This is an issue that must be addressed in the course of negotiating a possible Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Even if the ATT resolution were adopted without consensus in the First Committee, it would be of importance for the international community and for the UN that all States participate in the preparatory process for these negotiations.

Collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO):

About the Bulletin of the World Health Organization: The Bulletin seeks to publish and disseminate scientifically rigorous public health information of international significance that enables policy-makers, researchers and practitioners to be more effective; it aims to improve health, particularly among disadvantaged populations.

The Bulletin of the World Health Organization is an international journal of public health with a special focus on developing countries. Since it was first published in 1948, the Bulletin has become one of the world's leading public health journals. In keeping with its mission statement, the peer-reviewed monthly maintains an open-access policy so that the full contents of the journal and its archives are available online free of charge. As the flagship periodical of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bulletin draws on WHO experts as editorial advisers, reviewers and authors as well as on external collaborators. Anyone can submit a paper to the Bulletin, and no author charges are levied. All peer-reviewed articles are indexed, including in ISI Web of Science and MEDLINE.

Information for Authors can be accessed at: http://www.who.int/bulletin/contributors/current_guidelines.pdf (PDF)

Bulletin of the World Health Organization; Volume 85, Number 7, July 2007, 501-568 Table of contents

United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Program:

Volunteerism acts as an effective gateway between the United Nations system and the global citizen. According to one definition of "gateway", it is a network point that acts as an entrance to another network. That captures the essence of volunteerism. The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Program supports sustainable human development globally through the promotion of volunteerism, including mobilization of volunteers. The first place to look for volunteer opportunities is in your community, by joining one of the national volunteer organizations or offering your professional services free of charge. Volunteers recruited nationally should have at least three years of professional experience; assignments usually last 24 months, but 6 to 12 months are increasingly common. For volunteering abroad, UNV recruits a great diversity of talents, such as professionals from various sectors, humanitarian aid specialists, senior business leaders and retired executives, expatriate professionals from the developing world, and information technology specialists. In addition, the UNV Online Volunteering Service connects development organizations and volunteers over the Internet and supports their effective online collaboration. For more information on how to become a UNV volunteer, please visit: www.unvolunteers.org

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA):

State of World Population: this year turns its focus on urban growth. It notes that in 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of world population, 3.3 billion people will be living in urban areas. This number is expected to swell to almost 5 billion by 2030. In Africa and Asia, the urban population will double between 2000 and 2030, requiring pre-emptive action to prepare for future urban growth. UNFPA's State of World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth states that although cities have pressing immediate concerns—including poverty, housing, environment, governance and administration—these problems pale in comparison with those raised by future growth. Reacting to urban challenges as they arise is no longer enough: cities must plan ahead, with specific attention given to poverty reduction and sustainability. The report makes two underlying observations: poor people will make up a large part of urban growth; and most urban growth comes from natural increase rather than migration. Once this is understood, three initiatives stand out:

  • Accept the right of poor people to the city, abandoning attempts to discourage migration and prevent urban growth.
  • Adopt a broad and long-term vision of the use of urban space. This means, among other things, providing minimally serviced land for housing and planning in advance to promote sustainable land use, looking beyond the cities' borders to minimize their "ecological footprint."
  • Begin a concerted international effort to support strategies for the urban future.

State of World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth is available - http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2007/presskit/pdf/sowp2007_eng.pdf (PDF)

Collaboration with UN University (UNU):

UNU-WIDER Conference - Advancing Health Equality. Measurement and explanation of inequality in health and health care in low-income settings: This paper describes approaches to the measurement and explanation of income related inequality and inequity in health care financing, health care utilization and health and considers the applicability and the feasibility of these methods in low income countries. Results from a comparative study of 14 Asian countries are used to illustrate the main issues. The structure of health finance in low-income countries, in particular the heavy reliance on out-of-pocket payments, means that the equity issues in finance are quite different from those of concern in high-income countries. Primary concern is not with the distribution of contributions to pre-payment mechanisms but with the deterrent effect of payments on utilization and the distribution of uninsured payment risks. Measurement of inequity in utilization of health care in low-income countries is constrained by the lack of reliable measures of health that can be used to standardize for need. Nonetheless, sufficient is known of the distribution of need in many circumstances in order to make inferences about equity from inequality in health care use. The empirical analyses demonstrate that, in low-income countries, the better-off tend to pay more for health care, both absolutely and in relative terms. But they also consume more health care. Health care is financed is largely according to the benefit principle. Assessing the distributional performance of health systems in low income settings therefore requires examination of finance and utilization simultaneously.

Corresponding author: Eddy van Doorslaer, Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus, The Netherlands.
(Details of the paper can be accessed from the link of UNU-WIDER on CME Page of WomensHealthSection.com)

Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS):

Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS "Global Crisis - Global Action": series continues

  1. By 2003, implement universal precautions in health-care settings to prevent transmission of HIV infection;
  2. By 2005, ensure: that a wide range of prevention programs which take account of local circumstances, ethics and cultural values, is available in all countries, particularly the most affected countries, including information, education and communication, in languages most understood by communities and respectful of cultures, aimed at reducing risk-taking behavior and encouraging responsible sexual behavior, including abstinence and fidelity; expanded access to essential commodities, including male and female condoms and sterile injecting equipment; harm reduction efforts related to drug use; expanded access to voluntary and confidential counseling and testing; safe blood supplies; and early and effective treatment of sexually transmittable infections;
  3. By 2005, ensure that at least 90 per cent, and by 2010 at least 95 per cent of young men and women aged 15 to 24 have access to the information, education, including peer education and youth-specific HIV education, and services necessary to develop the life skills required to reduce their vulnerability to HIV infection; in full partnership with youth, parents, families, educators and health-care providers;
  4. By 2005, reduce the proportion of infants infected with HIV by 20 per cent, and by 50 per cent by 2010, by: ensuring that 80 per cent of pregnant women accessing antenatal care have information, counseling and other HIV prevention services available to them, increasing the availability of and by providing access for HIV-infected women and babies to effective treatment to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as well as through effective interventions for HIV-infected women, including voluntary and confidential counseling and testing, access to treatment, especially anti-retroviral therapy and, where appropriate, breast milk substitutes and the provision of a continuum of care;
  5. Care, support and treatment
    Care, support and treatment are fundamental elements of an effective response

  6. By 2003, ensure that national strategies, supported by regional and international strategies, are developed in close collaboration with the international community, including Governments and relevant intergovernmental organizations as well as with civil society and the business sector, to strengthen health care systems and address factors affecting the provision of HIV-related drugs, including anti-retroviral drugs, inter alia affordability and pricing, including differential pricing, and technical and health care systems capacity. Also, in an urgent manner make every effort to: provide progressively and in a sustainable manner, the highest attainable standard of treatment for HIV/AIDS, including the prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections, and effective use of quality-controlled anti-retroviral therapy in a careful and monitored manner to improve adherence and effectiveness and reduce the risk of developing resistance; to cooperate constructively in strengthening pharmaceutical policies and practices, including those applicable to generic drugs and intellectual property regimes, in order further to promote innovation and the development of domestic industries consistent with international law;
  7. By 2005, develop and make significant progress in implementing comprehensive care strategies to: strengthen family and community-based care including that provided by the informal sector, and health care systems to provide and monitor treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS, including infected children, and to support individuals, households, families and communities affected by HIV/ AIDS; improve the capacity and working conditions of health care personnel, and the effectiveness of supply systems, financing plans and referral mechanisms required to provide access to affordable medicines, including anti-retroviral drugs, diagnostics and related technologies, as well as quality medical, palliative and psycho-social care;
  8. By 2003, ensure that national strategies are developed in order to provide psycho-social care for individuals, families, and communities affected by HIV/AIDS;
  9. HIV/AIDS and human rights
    Realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all is essential to reduce vulnerability to HIV/AIDS
    Respect for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS drives an effective response

  10. By 2003, enact, strengthen or enforce as appropriate legislation, regulations and other measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against, and to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people living with HIV/AIDS and members of vulnerable groups; in particular to ensure their access to, inter alia education, inheritance, employment, health care, social and health services, prevention, support, treatment, information and legal protection, while respecting their privacy and confidentiality; and develop strategies to combat stigma and social exclusion connected with the epidemic;

  11. By 2005, bearing in mind the context and character of the epidemic and that globally women and girls are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, develop and accelerate the implementation of national strategies that: promote the advancement of women and women's full enjoyment of all human rights; promote shared responsibility of men and women to ensure safe sex; empower women to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality to increase their ability to protect themselves from HIV infection;
  12. By 2005, implement measures to increase capacities of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection, principally through the provision of health care and health services, including sexual and reproductive health, and through prevention education that promotes gender equality within a culturally and gender sensitive framework;

  13. To be continued...

Top Two-Articles Accessed in June 2007:

  1. Challenges of Cultural Diversity and Practice of Medicine;
    WHEC Publication. Special thanks to Bulletin of the World Health Organization and UN Chronicle for the priceless support.
  2. Pregnancy & Nutrition;
    WHEC Publication. Special thanks to World Health Organization and World Bank for its contributions.

News, Invitations, and Letters:

United Nations Volunteers (UNV) was created by the General Assembly in 1970 as a subsidiary organ of the United Nations to be an operational program in development cooperation. As a volunteer-based program, UNV is both unique within the United Nations family and in its scale as an international undertaking. It assigns mid-career women and men to sectoral and community-based development projects, humanitarian aid and the promotion of human rights and democracy. UNV reports to the Executive Board of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) / United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and works through UNDP's country offices around the world. In any given year, some 4,000 UNV specialists, field workers and national UNVs, short-term business / industry consultants and returning expatriate advisers, comprising more than 140 nationalities, are at work in a similar number of countries. Two thirds are themselves citizens of developing countries and one third come from industrialized countries. More than 20,000 persons have served as UNVs since 1971. Graduate qualifications and several years' working experience are preconditions for recruitment. Contracts are normally for two years, with shorter assignments for humanitarian, electoral and other missions. UNVs receive a modest monthly living allowance. Funding comes from UNDP, partner United Nations agencies and donor contributions to the UNV Special Volunteer Fund.

Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): Under the UN Charter, the Economic and Social Council consults with NGOs concerned with matters within its competence. Over 1,600 NGOs have consultative status with the Council. The Council recognizes that these organizations should have the opportunity to express their views, and that they possess special experience or technical knowledge of value to its work. The Council classifies NGOs into three categories: category I organizations are those concerned with most of the Council's activities; category II organizations have special competence in specific areas; category III are those organizations that can occasionally contribute to the Council and are placed on a roster for ad hoc consultations. NGOs with consultative status may send observers to meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies and may submit written statements relevant to its work. They may also consult with the United Nations Secretariat on matters of mutual concern. Over the years, the relationship between the United Nations and affiliated NGOs has developed significantly. Increasingly, NGOs are seen as partners who are consulted on policy and program matters and seen as valuable links to civil society. NGOs around the world, in increasing numbers, are working daily with the United Nations community to help achieve the objectives of the Charter.

What's Next for the Internet? Perspectives after the Internet Governance Forum Inaugural Meeting: Two years ago, in March 2004, at the Global Forum on Internet Governance, held at UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan highlighted what in the beginning of the twenty-first century is more and more evident: the Internet has become, in a relatively short time, an essential instrument for modern society. "The Internet has revolutionized ... the very fabric of human communication and exchange", he said. "In managing, promoting and protecting its presence in our lives, we need to be no less creative than those who invented it". Traditional ways of governance might prove useless in dealing with such a complex and peculiar entity as the Internet, but the increasing awareness of its impact on society at the economic, social, political and legal levels has in recent times brought issues of Internet governance into the spotlight. Many important issues are at stake, such as preventing or at least reducing the risk of an excessive fragmentation ("Balkanization") of the Internet; protecting the rights of all the stakeholders, while defining their responsibilities; safeguarding end users from crimes and abuses; and finally encouraging every opportunity for further development.

Details: http://www.un.org/Pubs/chronicle/2006/webArticles/120106_igf.htm

Special Thanks:

WHEC thanks Dr. Jean-Marc Coicaud, Director, UN University (UNU), Office at the United Nations, New York for his support to our project/program. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Academic Council for the United Nations Systems (ACUNS) and a member of the Advisory Board of Global Policy Innovation (New York). Thanks for the friendship and support.

Beyond the numbers...

Improvement begins with "I".

Women's Health & Education Center
Dedicated to Women's and Children's Well-being and Health Care Worldwide