Innovative Ways for Women in Refugee Camps to Find Maternal Health Care

Innovative Ways for Women in Refugee Camps to Find Maternal Health Care

For women living in refugee camps, there is a lack of maternal health facilities on site and finding aid and safe transportation to offsite facilities can be very difficult. Often, refugee camps can be located in rural areas and or conflict zones causing a lack of specialized doctors close to the camp and security issues with traveling outside the camp such as attacks on ambulances. It is vital for a pregnant woman to be able to receive obstetric care in any emergency situation. In order to help refugee women find timely and quality care, mobile clinics and “mama taxis” have been installed in many camps to aid prenatal and postpartum healthcare. The UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has led the development of mobile clinics which are “clinics on wheels” equipped with necessary medicines, tools, machines, doctors, nurses, etc. and can meet a woman in need so she does not have to travel around or leave a camp. With similar intentions,...
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US Preventive Services Task Force recommends primary cervical HPV testing as an effective cervical cancer screening method

US Preventive Services Task Force recommends primary cervical HPV testing as an effective cervical cancer screening method

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. In the US, deaths from cervical cancer have decreased by more than 50 percent over the past 60 years, since the introduction of regular screening tests that detect high-grade precancerous cervical lesions and cervical cancer. However, over 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually and about 4,200 women die from it, even with screening and treatment. Recommendations continue to evolve, reflecting the latest screening technology and evidence. The new USPSTF recommendations for screening have been recently published in the latest issue of JAMA. Women over 30 now have three options for screening, including HPV testing alone; the other two options are pap smear and a combination of pap smear and HPV testing. HPV testing has been shown to be more effective than a pap test as it is able to detect precancerous cells earlier and more accurately than cytology. These screening guidelines update the previous guidelines; now, for...
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CDC Report Finds Increased Risk of Birth Defects and Developmental Problems in Infants Born to Zika-Exposed Mothers

CDC Report Finds Increased Risk of Birth Defects and Developmental Problems in Infants Born to Zika-Exposed Mothers

The world’s public health experts have been actively addressing the Zika crisis since it was discovered two years ago. Travel warnings, diagnostics testing, pregnancy guidelines and vector control have prevented substantial numbers of infants born with the devastating impacts of microcephaly. The CDC followed up 1450 US children born to mothers who had suspected or confirmed Zika, and released the findings from their one year follow-up. In addition to microcephaly, the infants had an increased rate of birth defects and neurodevelopmental delays. The study also found that the majority of children had not undergone neuroimaging or an eye examination, leading to missed opportunities to detect and possibly address problems at an early age. The authors recommended increased screening among pediatric providers and referral to specialists for children of zika-exposed mothers. The CDC will continue to follow these infants, and is currently following up a Brazilian cohort through the ZODIAC study. As we await the results of these longer-term studies, these...
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Legislation Promoting HPV Vaccine Use Does NOT Increase Risky Sexual Behavior

Legislation Promoting HPV Vaccine Use Does NOT Increase Risky Sexual Behavior

  The relatively low HPV vaccine uptake in the US has been attributed in part to fears that vaccinating against the sexually transmitted virus would encourage early or risky sexual behavior in adolescents. To look at the potential impact of pro-vaccine legislation on behaviors, researchers compared CDC surveillance data on teen sexual activity in states in the US with policies promoting or mandating HPV vaccination among adolescents to states without any specific vaccination policies in a study published in Pediatrics this month. They found no difference in reported sexual activity or risk behavior in states with vaccine legislation. These results support a prior study in which researchers looked at diagnosis of sexually transmitted infection as a marker for sexual activity or increased risk behavior, and found that there was no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated adolescents over the five year study period. Despite this consistent, reassuring evidence that vaccinating for HPV will not increase sexual activity among adolescents, the US has...
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India’s Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act raises eyebrows, initiating conversations on improving current policy

India’s Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act raises eyebrows, initiating conversations on improving current policy

Last year, India amended its Maternity Benefit Act. While it was praised in “making India proud around the world” and “bringing women in workforce closer to workplace equality” as the amendment increased the paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, negative consequences also surfaced. With employers being held liable for the entire cost of funding the maternity leave to employees, over a quarter of the small and medium enterprises and startups in a survey indicated that they preferred to hire male employees, rendering the amendment more damaging than helpful for female employees. Several solutions were proposed to remedy this situation and make the Maternity Benfit Act more appealing to the employers: 1) provision of tax: employers provide job-protected leave while the wage replacement is funded through an employee payroll tax; and 2) gender-neutral paid leave: the 26-week leave is split equally between the dad and mom so that no employer bears the entire burden of having its employee...
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Still A Long Way To Go: Fighting Gender Disparities in Medicine

Still A Long Way To Go: Fighting Gender Disparities in Medicine

A recent report revealed a prestigious Japanese medical school has systematically lowered entrance exam scores of female applicants, preventing women from entering the school for years. Many women quitting medicine after getting married or having children were cited as reasons for altering the exam scores and excluding women. Countries, in which women are steadily becoming a majority of entering medical students such as the US, UK, and Canada, are no exception to encountering these criticisms. Some argue that the changing gender composition of the medical workforce has negative economic and workforce implications because: more female doctors are working part time compared to their male colleagues; more women plan to retire before the age of 65 than men, shortening their working life; women have longer consultations with patients and see fewer patients than male doctors. However, as Yoshiko Maeda, head of the Japan Medical Women's Association, stated in the article, instead of worrying about women quitting jobs, "we need a working...
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Multi-Lateral Call to Action to Attain Universal Health Coverage through Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights that include HIV linkages

Multi-Lateral Call to Action to Attain Universal Health Coverage through Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights that include HIV linkages

Despite the many interconnected risk factors and affected populations, the integration of HIV prevention and treatment services and sexual and reproductive health and rights has not been straightforward. Recently, there has been an increase in the calls for integration from some important global health group. A recent Comment in the Lancet responded to the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) report, which highlighted the need for universal access to integrated SRHR packages, including HIV prevention and treatment. The authors set out three main strategies to improve this: 1) Empower women at the individual and community level, 2) Secure accountable leadership, governance and financing from government and international agencies and 3) Improve the coordination and cooperation across various sectors. This was followed by a more specific call to action launched at AIDS 2018. More than 35 international agencies signed on to these 10 key actions necessary to advance both SRHR and HIV treatment, prevention and care. The...
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Pennsylvania forms maternal mortality committee as the state’s maternal death rate doubles

Pennsylvania forms maternal mortality committee as the state’s maternal death rate doubles

Despite being an extremely wealthy nation and leading global power, the United States boasts the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. And while pregnant women face poor outcomes throughout the country, maternal health outcomes vary drastically by state. In Pennsylvania, home to nearly 13 million residents, the maternal death rate has more than doubled since 1994. This dramatic rise in maternal death reflects a troubling trend in the United States--the U.S. is the only developed country where the maternal mortality rate is rising. Half of these deaths are preventable, according to Dr. Amanda Flicker, a Pennsylvania obstetrician. PA Representative Ryan Mackenzie took lead in creating a maternal mortality review committee, which will identify causes of the rising maternal mortality rate and resources that could help reverse the trend, as well as make recommendations for state-wide interventions. Thirty other states have already established similar committees....
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South Korean activists call to abolish abortion ban

South Korean activists call to abolish abortion ban

Earlier this month, activists rallied and marched in Seoul to demand an end to the laws that criminalized abortion in South Korea. Though the official crowd estimate was 1,500, organizers believe that over 5,000 people participated in the demonstration. Speakers included physicians, clergy, and young women who shared testimonies about their experiences struggling to end unwanted pregnancies or access reproductive information. South Korea's current law, originally passed in 1953, makes receiving abortion punishable by up to one year in prison or a fine of up to 2 million won (about $1,770). Physicians who perform the procedure could face even harsher punishments, serving up to two years in prison or losing their right to practice medicine. Since 1973, another law has allowed for abortion up to 24 weeks of gestation in certain exceptional circumstances, including rape, incest, genetic impairment of the fetus, and endangerment of the health of the women. In addition, women must obtain their husband's consent in order to undergo the...
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Receiving an abortion not associated with mental health harms, study confirms

Receiving an abortion not associated with mental health harms, study confirms

The notion that abortion causes poor mental health outcomes is often used to defend laws and policies that limit access to the procedure. So-called crisis pregnancy centers--fake health clinics that seek to dissuade women from receiving an abortion, often through manipulation and misinformation--sometimes tell patients that abortion causes depression, anxiety, and regret. They even warn of "post-abortion syndrome," a mythical condition that has been dismissed by scientific authorities. While reviews of scientific literature have found no evidence to suggest that abortion harms mental health, the existing research had limited generalizability. But thanks to the groundbreaking longitudinal Turnaway Study by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), scientists can conclusively assert that having a wanted abortion is not associated with mental health harms. The study compares the effects of women who have and women who are denied an abortion and follows them for five years. In addition to finding that having a wanted abortion is not associated with poor mental health outcomes, the...
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