South Africa currently only provides for medical abortion in the private sector – however, the National Department of Health is finalising guidelines for implementation in the public sector. Given the demand for abortion services by women, the limited accessibility of surgical abortion there is a need to make medical abortion services available. This should address illegalmedical abortion providers currently advertising on lamppostsin public areas and the concerning maternal mortality rates.
In March, at the United Nations in New York this year, the Commission on the Status of Women marked the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. There was a short political declaration adopted on the second day of the Commission, which reaffirmed the commitments made at Beijing and called for actions towards implementation. There were 7 resolutions introduced:
1. HIV and AIDS, Women and the Girl Child
2. Women’s Economic Empowerment
3. Eliminating Maternal Mortality and Morbidity through the Empowerment of Women
4. Ending Female Genital Mutilation
5. Release of women and children taken hostage
6. The situation of and assistance to Palestinian women
7. Strengthening institutional arrangement of the UN for support of gender equality and the empowerment of women by consolidating the four existing offices into a composite entity [Gender Equality Architecture Reform]
In Namibia, HIV-positive women are being tricked into sterilisation. Is this a country desperate to curb Aids, or just a blatant human rights violation? Marion Stevens of the Women and HIV/AIDS Gauge, Health Systems Trust, came across this recent article, which exposes the reality of what’s happening in Namibia’s state hospitals.
Since 1997, over 33 000 women have died of cervical cancer in South Africa. This translates into roughly 3 000 per year. In addition, approximately 7000 women develop the disease every year. In 2000, a national cervical cancer screening policy was developed and put into place. The system uses a screening method to prevent the precancerous lesions from developing into cervical cancer through early detection and treatment. Screening takes place through pap smears with three free pap smears being offered to women in the public service at the ages of 30, 40 and 50.
There has been a lot of discussion and a lot of resource mobilisation (donors setting money aside) on medical male circumcision. This has been so given recent research findings and the desperate need to find 'something' to do to increase real results in the prevention, treatment and care, and support arena. However, concerns have been expressed about the real implications. The World Health Organization (WHO) held a meeting in Mombasa last month to discuss this issue and the Aids Vaccine Advocacy Coalition held a meeting prior to this to particularly focus on growing concerns regarding the impact of medical male circumcision on an epidemic in which women are mostly infected and affected. I include a background document and a consensus statement from the meeting.