Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why TB Persists

Every five years, the National Statistics Office conducts a National Demographic and Health Survey which mainly looks at the health of women and children. The earliest surveys focused on family planning, but over the years it has expanded to become the most comprehensive source of information on other health issues in the country.

Just to give a few examples, you can find statistics on the use of tobacco, domestic violence and sexual behavior. There is also information on households’ access to safe water, ownership of durable goods, exposure to mass media. What I find most useful in the NDHS is the breakdown of statistics according to urban/rural residence, region, age groups and, in more recent surveys, income.

Except in 2003, all the surveys have been limited to women respondents, but the information remains important because our women play so many important roles in health care, within and outside the home.

The final results from the 2008 survey, with 13, 594 women interviewed from all the regions in the Philippines, were presented last week. The NSO asked me to respond to the findings concerning HIV/AIDS and TB during the dissemination symposium, and I thought I’d share my thoughts about the findings about TB.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Too young, too curious

Adolescence is a period marked by confusion, as adolescents try to make sense of the changes in their physical appearance, as well as to establish their own identity. It is a crucial stage where being curious is not enough; that curiosity has to be satisfi ed, and the consequences can often be dire. One of the pressing concerns facing adolescents is the rise of unwanted pregnancy and incidences of sexually transmitted infections (STI) among this particular age group.

Sexual initiation among adolescents is occurring at a younger age; the typical age for boys is 13 and 14 for girls. More alarming, most of fi rst time sex were either
unplanned or non-consensual. The 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS) conducted in the Philippines showed that 57 percent of fi rst time sex fell in
the unplanned or non-consensual category. For unplanned - and therefore unsafe - sex, the risk of unwanted pregnancy and/or getting STI becomes higher.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Similarities and Differences of Traditional and Professional Health Care Systems

This study examines the convergence and divergence of traditional and professional health systems among the B’laan communities in the municipality of Sarangani in the context of their child health care services. The B’laan is an indigenous tribe living in the southern island of Mindanao, in the Philippines.

Background of the Study

The Alma Ata Declaration in 1978 enunciated health as a basic human right. This reserves the right of individuals to access the highest attainable standard of health through the provision of basic health and social services. Specifically, the principle has defi ned access to health care as the affordability, accessibility, availability, and cultural acceptability of health care services amongst peoples across cultures. It also identifi ed the roles of governments, non-government organizations (NGOs), and international institutions in providing the health care needs to achieve a better health for all. This international pact also identified the basic elements of health that are vital to the management and provision of services to the people.

Child Labor

Child labor is actual manpower coming from people below the age of 18. It is work that exceeds a minimum number of hours, depending on the age of a child and on the type of work. For children aged fi ve to 11, beyond one hour of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week already constitutes child labor. The hours increase as the child becomes older. For children 12 to 14 years old, 14 hours of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week is considered child labor. For minors 15 to 17, the minimum is 43 hours of economic or domestic work per week.

It comes in different forms. Children can work as household help or as workers in farming and fishing industries. Some are given work in quarries, mines, brick kilns and construction sites. On an even more dangerous note, children are increasingly becoming more involved in the drug trade or serve as providers of sex services. It is reported that children living in the poorest households are most likely to be involved in child labor, especially those in the rural areas.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Domestic Violence in Vietnam: Situations and Challenges

Though national level statistics on gender-based violence do not exist, existing research shows that domestic violence is a problem in North Vietnam. A number of
recent studies in North Vietnam suggest that about one third of women experience domestic violence, and one in every three abused women suffer more than one kind of violence.

Social norms and cultural attitudes pose a challenge in program intervention. Violence against women is a socially acceptable behavior amongst Vietnamese men; it is seen as a punishment for their wives when they transgress the traditional roles. In addition, Vietnamese women are expected to quietly endure the hardships and protect the harmony and reputation of the family. Many abused women, therefore, do not seek support.

Multisectoral action against domestic violence Vietnam has made many efforts in response to this issue. In 2007, the government issued a Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control, which clearly defined domestic violence as “any intentional action by a family member to cause damage or potentially cause damage in terms of physical, spiritual, and economic damages to another family member” and provides a legal framework for the intervention and prevention of domestic violence.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The ties that bind: untangling the socio-political context of Maternal and Child Health

Maternal and child health (MCH) is not an entirely new concern, but its inclusion in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) gave its attainment priority status. Goal 4 calls for the reduction of under-fi ve mortality by two-thirds by 2015, while Goal 5 aims to reduce maternal mortality rate by three-quarters.

Barely six years before the deadline, the global community still has a lot of catching up to do. At best, efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality ratios produce patchy results, with some countries attaining a level of success, while
others further slide down the ladder.

Maternal health

According to The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, while child mortality
is on the decline, more than half a million women worldwide still die of pregnancy and/or childbirthrelated complications every year. In the Asia-Pacific region, South Asia posted the highest maternal mortality ratio of 546 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000. East Asia, on the other hand, had the lowest ratio of 55 per 100,000 live births. From 1997 – 2002, 31 percent of maternal deaths in Asia was due to hemorrhage.

Maternal & Child Health: the unpleasant truth

Mother and child has been a recurring theme in arts, owing mainly to the powerful images it evokes - that of the mother as a life-giving and caring creature, and that of the child as a personifi cation of purity and innocence. But the adage of art
imitating life certainly does not apply to this particular theme, for the truth about maternal and child health (MCH) situation is far from pleasant.

The latest issue of Health Alert Asia Pacific newsletter, provides untangles the sociopolitical context of Maternal and Child Health (MCH), providing an overview of the scope of the problem -- high incidences of maternal and child deaths, and mother to child transmission of HIV-- making MCH one of the pressing health concerns worldwide. This also features domestic violence situation in Vietnam which details the learnings of a Vietnamese organization in handling a gender-sensitivity and anti-violence against women program. The article also provides a few insights on how other organizations can help eliminate gender inequality and violence against women in their respective areas. Another article provides comprehensive look at the global burden of child labor including using children as child-warriors. Another article entitled, “Similarities and Differences of Traditional and Professional Health Care System in B’laan Communities,” explores the divergence and convergence between Western medicine and the traditional beliefs and practices of the B’laan tribe, an indigenous peoples living in the Philippine island of Mindanao. This issue of Health Alert also focuses on adolescent reproductive health and how the lack of information and services makes the youth more vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections and early pregnancy.

To request for copies of the newsletter, please write to hain@hain.org.