The Rohingya Displacement Crisis and Its Effect on Reproductive Health

The Rohingya Displacement Crisis and Its Effect on Reproductive Health

Article by Kayla Chee It has been just over a year since the beginning of the Rohingya displacement crisis. Since August 2017, Rohingya Muslims living in the Rakhine State of Myanmar have endured the brutal and inhumane ethnic cleansing of their people at the hands of Myanmar security forces. Mass killings, sexual violence, arson, and other humanitarian crimes inflicted by the Rakhine State military have motivated many Rohingya Muslims to escape and seek refuge in neighboring countries. The United Nations estimates close to 900,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled out of Myanmar to nearby Bangladesh. Bangladesh, a lower-middle income country with existing problems of poor economic development, high population density, and limited access to healthcare, has little to offer the Rohingya Muslims living in these displacement camps of Cox’s Bazaar. The camps’ immense overcrowding and unstable hillside terrain prone to landslides and floods make living conditions dangerous with little access to basic needs. The culminating problems of food insecurity, unsafe shelter, poor water...
Read More
US Faces Sharp Increase in STD Rates

US Faces Sharp Increase in STD Rates

Article by Emily Woodrow Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. All three are caused by bacteria and can be treated and cured with the proper screening, diagnosis and medication. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recently released statistics noting a record high of 2.3 million cases of these STDs in 2017, which is an increase of 200,000 cases from 2016. Gail Bolan, the director of STD Prevention at the CDC, noted that after years of success in STD control, the US has seen sharp increased over the past four years. David Harvey, Executive of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said, "The U.S. continues to have the highest STD rates in the industrialized world.” This is largely due to the fact that so many people do not know they are infected with STDs; symptoms may not arise for weeks after one is infected. Therefore people may be unaware that are...
Read More
Links Between Maternal Depression in a Mother and her Child’s Psychological and Immune Health

Links Between Maternal Depression in a Mother and her Child’s Psychological and Immune Health

Maternal depression is a global public health concern that occurs before and after pregnancy and largely affects the mental health and daily life of a woman. The CDC states that 1 in every 9 women can experience postpartum depression which occurs after having a baby. Often, this type of depression women face goes undiagnosed and they do not receive treatment. Recent studies have concluded that a mother’s depression can have long term impacts on her child. Investigators found that mothers with depression have higher amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone, and SIgA, an antibody that indicates an activation of the immune system. Additionally, in studies of these same mother’s behaviors, their actions are found to be more insensitive and intrusive in regards to the treatment of their child causing the child’s stress level to be greatly impacted. Results also pointed to higher levels of SIgA in children of mothers facing maternal depression meaning their immune systems are more frequently disrupted....
Read More
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,...
Read More
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...
Read More
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...
Read More
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...
Read More
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...
Read More
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...
Read More
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...
Read More