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Cervical Cancer Undermines Gender Equality in Africa

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

This blog post is co-authored with: Sheila Dutta

The 2012 World Development Report (WDR) “Gender Equality and Development” found that, while many disadvantages faced by women and girls have shrunk thanks to development, major gaps remain.

A significant gap is the excess female mortality in many low- and middle income countries, especially in childhood and during reproductive years. Cervical cancer —a preventable condition that usually results from a viral infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV) that is generally sexually transmitted— is one of the leading causes of premature death and ill health among women in sub-Saharan Africa.  As the figure shows, the Eastern, Western and Southern African regions have the highest incidence rates of cervical cancer in the world.  Rates exceed 50 per 100,000 populations and age-standardized mortality exceeds 40 per 100,000 populations. 

We want jobs, jobs, jobs

Isis Gaddis's picture

Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian Newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Jobs are at the very heart of living. Families escape poverty when their members secure gainful employment, and societies flourish when labor markets offer a wide range of job opportunities to citizens. And there is more to jobs than just monetary benefits. Not having a job or working under unfavorable conditions is often associated with low individual life satisfaction. Youth unemployment, in particular, can undermine the foundations of social cohesion, especially in fragile countries with a legacy of civil unrest and conflict.

Living a long and healthy life – Africa and Kenya are only starting to catch up

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

Soon after I turned 40, I started experiencing back problems. I asked my brother for advice (he is a medical doctor) but didn’t quite like what I heard. “Sorry brother, our bodies are just not built for us to live much beyond 40…” he told me. If you take human evolution as a reference, he is right.

For the first 59,900 years of our existence (out of a total of 60,000), people used to live only into their 30s, at best. During the 1000 or so years that followed, there were some modest improvements raising life expectancy to 40 years. Things really changed only in the past 100 years on the backdrop of major medical and sanitation breakthroughs.

Invest in nutrition to invest in the future?

Janneke Hartvig Blomberg's picture

Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian Newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Malnutrition has detrimental effects on a child's physical growth (stunting); it can also result in irreversible damage to their brain and mental development, and it increases their risk to illness and death. The biggest impact of malnutrition is seen in the first 1,000 days of life of a child's life - from the time of conception to the time they reach their second birthday.

For women, malnutrition increases risk during pregnancy and the delivery of low birth weight babies. Malnutrition is a serious issue in Tanzania as shown by the following statistics:

Improving access to drugs: Fitting the solution to the problem

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Patricio Marquez’s post correctly  identifies lack of access  to quality medicines as one of the  constraints to poor people’s health in Africa.    But the  solutions he recommends—more public money for “essential drugs benefits”, building  resilient institutions,  and providing  physicians  with better  scientific information  and guidelines  about  drug  prescriptions—are   unlikely   by    themselves  to   improve poor   people’s   health  outcomes.

More public money.  Patricio notes that out-of-pocket expenditures are about 40 percent of total health expenditures and most of this is spent on outpatient drugs.  He assumes the reason is that countries have not adopted a program of essential drugs benefits, and the reason for the latter is lack of public resources.  But consider the following facts. 

How can we improve access and get more value from drug expenditures in Africa?

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

Medicines are key inputs for quality medical care and the prevention of disease, and when administered appropriately, as evidence from Sub-Saharan African countries shows, they can contribute significantly to reducing death rates due to conditions such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
 
But it is also obvious that not everybody in these countries, particularly the poor, enjoys this benefit, since limited access to essential drugs remains a key challenge in most health systems.  High out-of-pocket expenditures, typically more than 40% of total health expenditures in some countries (a large portion for outpatient drugs), also place a heavy burden on poor families with chronically ill members who require daily drug intake.

Can Tanzania afford 100 million citizens in 2035?

Kristoffer Welsien's picture

Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Tanzania has experienced an exceptionally high population growth – from 11 million in 1963 to over 45 million in 2012. Among the factors that have contributed to this increase –one of the fastest in the world– is the falling mortality rate. Life expectancy in Tanzania has increased over the past two decades from 50 to 58 years. 

In addition, Tanzanian women have continued to have many children (5.4 per woman in 2010), which is higher than Kenya and Rwanda (4.6) as well as other sub-Saharan countries with the exception of Uganda.
Since 1991, this rate has only declined by 13 percent in Tanzania against 26 and 31 percent in Rwanda and Kenya, respectively.  Several other factors have also contributed to the high population growth rate that Tanzania is experiencing:

Tanzania: Water is life, but access remains a problem

Jacques Morisset's picture

Let's think together: Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a couple of questions. This post is also published in the Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

There is no doubt about the importance of water to human existence. People need clean water to survive and stay healthy. Lack of clean water contributes to the high mortality rates in children around the world. Water is also critical to a country’s development as it is needed not only for agricultural productivity but also for industrial production. Yet access to water remains a major challenge in many countries. Tanzania has been blessed, both on the surface and below ground, with three times more renewable water resources than Kenya and 37 per cent more than Uganda.

Despite the vast amounts of fresh water available, many Tanzanians are still faced with water shortages due to insufficient capacity to access and store  it both in rural and urban areas. Few households have access to clean drinking water from a piped source. Only a small fraction of rural households can access water to irrigate their farms. The following statistics illustrate the magnitude of the problem:

“Seven” is the world’s defining number: what does it mean for Kenya?

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

As a fan of numerology, let me focus on a special number that captures a global trend: call it the lucky number seven. Since the end of last year, we are seven billion people in the world. We produce a total GDP of US$70 trillion (which means that globally per-capita income is US$10,000 on average) and the average life expectancy worldwide is--you guessed it--70 years.

Let’s extend the seven thread: if the world economy grew at seven percent per year, it would double within a decade (because ten years of seven percent growth don’t amount to 70, but 99 percent, due to the compounding effect). Now with population growth at one percent (thankfully not seven), average per capita incomes would increase from US$10,000 to about 18,000. That is quite a jump, and a level of prosperity that few of our parents and grand-parents would never have imagined.

Sadly though, averages will continue to mask wide disparities, both between countries and within societies.

Is this a woman's world? Gender equality in Tanzania

Waly Wane's picture

Let's think together:Every week the World Bank team in Tanzania wants to stimulate an evidence-based debate by sharing data from recent official surveys and ask you a few questions. These posts are also published in the Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen every Sunday.

Tanzanian families have been doing things differently of late. More of them have been sending their daughters to primary school and more women have become heads of families with increasing financial responsibilities. Increasingly too, more women are involved in the political arena today.  These trends can also be found in most countries in the world but they are especially visible in Tanzania as reflected by the following statistics.

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