The Inaccessibility of Sexual Health Care for Disabled Women in Canada

The Inaccessibility of Sexual Health Care for Disabled Women in Canada

In Canada, standard health protocol recommends that women receive a Pap test every few years in order to detect cervical cancer as early as possible. However, health practitioners at ACCESS, a clinic in Vancouver which provides sexual health services exclusively for disabled women, have identified a significant deficit in the accessibility of such services for the demographic they serve. This inaccessibility is derived in part from a widespread lack of appropriate equipment. Many offices do not possess an accessible exam bed with a lift, preventing gynecological screening for disabled women. Additionally, many doctors, in providing care to these women, draw upon the misguided assumption that individuals with disabilities are not sexually active and thus neglect to ask their patients for a comprehensive history of their sexual health. Because this discourse does not occur, or is  not prioritized due to more immediate health issues directly relating to the disability, cervical cancer is rarely screened for amongst disabled women, and thus persists largely...
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New Studies Relating to the Grandmother Hypothesis

New Studies Relating to the Grandmother Hypothesis

The “grandmother hypothesis” represents the idea that a grandmother has beneficial effects on the reproductive success of her children and the survival of her grandchildren. Therefore, it is predicted that women who have the genes for living longer would then have grandchildren who also carry these genes. Recently, two more studies that further explore the notion of the grandmother effect were published in Current Biology. The first analyzes data of birth, death, and marriages in certain Catholic parishes from 1608 in an area that is present-day Quebec. The findings point to the fact that families who stayed geographically near their grandmas not only created larger family sizes and shifted child mortality rates, but positively promoted mothers to have children at younger ages. The second study was led by Dr. Chapman of the University of Turku in Finland and analyzed data from pre-industrial Finland. Dr. Chapman concluded that specifically, when a grandma is in her 50-70’s, she is most capable of...
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Update on Health Efforts in Nigeria

Update on Health Efforts in Nigeria

Reproductive health supplies are dwindling in Nigeria, with family-planning funds provided by the United States having been revoked two years ago in accordance with Trump’s gag-rule. This revocation of funds was catalyzed by the Trump administration’s accusations that the United Nations Population Fund was facilitating coercive abortions and sterilization- accusations which turned out to be entirely unfounded. Regardless, Nigeria, a country with one of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality, subsequently lost more than half of its family planning funds within one year, bringing about devastating impacts upon contraceptive accessibility and efforts to address gender-based violence. FP2020 is a family planning initiative launched in 2012 with the goals of improving accessibility to family planning services and commodities, slowing the rate of population growth, and empowering the agency of women within decisions having to do with their bodies and health. However, without U.S. Funding, FP2020 has seen Nigerian health services deteriorate. And yet, despite the gag rule, studies have shown...
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Plan International Meeting

Plan International Meeting

I met with Plan International on January 17th. Plan International is an independent children’s rights organization committed to supporting vulnerable and marginalized children and their communities. The organization directly works with the community, schools, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and County Government. PLAN International works in 18 counties across Kenya: Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado, Tharaka Nithi, Siaya, Bungoma, Busia, Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale, Vihiga, Kakamega, Kisii, Migori, Homabay, Kisumu and Marsabit. PLAN’S key areas of focus are; Child protection Improving access to basic, quality education and early childhood development Quality healthcare including water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as adolescent and child health Youth employment and economic opportunities Resilience-building through disaster risk management To achieve part of this core activities, PLAN implements an Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (ASRHR) Project in Kisumu County, in the 2 sub-counties Kisumu West and Seme. The project targets children, parents and the community at large to enhance the wellbeing of the youth. The project implements: Training...
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How Climate Change May Affect the Gender of Newborns

How Climate Change May Affect the Gender of Newborns

Author and founder of the M&K Health Institute in Hyogo, Japan, Dr. Misao Fukuda, led a study with results that stated, “temperature fluctuation may play a role in the recent decrease in the sex ratios of births.” Since the mid-20th century, climate change has been a direct result of human activity and has caused a warming trend of the planet. Extreme weather has a connection to human stress which is likely to impact the birth sex ratio. Climate change very well may affect the number of male newborns; more male newborns are predicted to be born in areas with rising high temperatures. Scientist Steven Orzack of the Fresh Pond Research Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts claims that sex ratio is equal at conception, but there are external factors throughout birth and childhood which cause the ratio to differ. Specifically, senior researcher in the Section of Ecology, Department of Biology at the University of Turku in Finland, Samuli Helle, discovered evidence that...
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Judges Block Trump Birth Control Policy

Judges Block Trump Birth Control Policy

This Monday, Philadelphia District Judge Wendy Beetlestone decided to block a Trump administration rule that would allow employers to decline contraceptive healthcare coverage on religious grounds. While the Women's Health Amendment of the Affordable Care Act originally required employer-provided healthcare plans to include free or affordable birth control, the current administration amended the ACA to expand religious-based exemptions. The Trump administration's rules would have impacted tens of hundreds of childbearing-age women, increasing pressure on state-funded healthcare services. This nationwide injunction followed a similar decision earlier in the day, in which a California judge blocked the new rules for 13 states and the District of Columbia. After this decision, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement that “the law couldn’t be clearer – employers have no business interfering in women’s healthcare decisions. Today’s court ruling stops another attempt by the Trump Administration to trample on women’s access to basic reproductive care. It’s 2019, yet the Trump Administration is still trying to roll...
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Looking back on 2018’s reproductive health news

Earlier this month, I looked up from my computer screen and realized that it was December 1st. It felt like 2018 had flown by, almost as fast as it came. As excited as I am to move towards the 2020 elections with the potential for positive change, I think it’s important to take some time to look back at this year’s events that I perceived to be the good, the bad, and the ugly in the larger conversation of reproductive justice.   When I think of 2018, I think of multiple, and often emotionally exhausting conversations about sexual and gender-based violence. From the heartbreaking discovery in Northern India that sparked protests throughout the country to the United Nations’ report that 50,000 women a year are killed by intimate partners, news headlines this year have been pretty grim. We all watched in horror as the of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing unfolded, bringing with it, memories of Anita Hill’s similarly traumatic experience decades...
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Learning about Global Mental Health, and Teamwork, in Haiti

Blogpost by Alex Lichtl, T'19 During the summer of 2017 I traveled to Léogane, Haiti where I, and a team of student researchers, spent two months collecting data on women’s stressors in the community through a Duke SRT program. As a team, we had very little global health research experience, but after one week of orientation we were left on our own to recruit community leaders for interviews and organize focus groups for a project entitled "Mental and Reproductive Health Interventions for Haitian Women: Adapting strategies from community input on coping with stress." At first we were extremely lost, but with the help of our translator team and a lot of perseverance, we managed to reach our data collection goal. We were also fortunate because the women and men we worked with in the community were incredibly welcoming and open to sharing their life experiences regarding reproductive health. Overall, we asked women and men in the community about women’s stressors and coping...
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Analyzing High Abortion Rates in Pakistan

Analyzing High Abortion Rates in Pakistan

     The country of Pakistan has one of the highest rates of abortions in the world; it is noted there are 50 abortions for every one thousand women. However, this procedure is “legal only in very limited circumstances” according to the Guttmacher Institute. Pakistan states an abortion can occur if there is a “need” for it such as if a woman’s health is in danger. But, otherwise, the term “need” is very vaguely defined—culturally, abortions are not accepted or promoted in Pakistan. As a deeply conservative and Muslim country, most hospitals and doctors refuse to perform abortions for religious and moral reasons and beliefs. As a result, a huge underground abortion industry thrives. This contributes to the statistic that ⅓ of all women who undergo abortions in Pakistan suffer complications largely because those who are performing the operations are likely not properly qualified. The high amount of abortions comes from the fact that there is a large unmet need...
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HIV Patients Sue Government Over Lack of Septrin

HIV Patients Sue Government Over Lack of Septrin

Co-trimoxazole preventive therapy is a feasible intervention for people living with HIV. It works to reduce HIV-related morbidity and mortality through an off-patent drug, which is widely available in resource-limited settings. The World Health Organization (WHO) conditionally recommends the use of co-trimoxazole as treatment for opportunistic infections in people living with HIV/AIDS. In Uganda, previous reports by the State Minister for Health stated that there was a funding shortage for the drug. The Global Fund, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland has since stepped in to provide all funds for the drugs available from July 2018 onwards. This is good news, as daily intake of co-trimoxazole relieves symptoms and prolongs life for people living with HIV/AIDS. However, a human rights organization and two people living with HIV have sued the Ugandan Government and the National Medical Stores (NMS) for alleged failure to supply public health centers with septrin as one of the essential drugs for treatment of AIDS for the months of March...
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