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THE SCOPE OF HEALTH-CARE PROBLEMS FOR WOMEN IN AMERICA

Introduction:

     Such a long period of innovation in science and technology has passed but still the health of a woman, which is significant for her family members, remains a major concern for us. Most of the healthcare services are designated for women as they get deprived of the healthy environment probably due to low income, office-work and off-course family responsibilities (being the toughest of all). Due to their own needs they invest in these services, funding them whenever needed!

American women healthcare problem:    

  When most of us think of contemporary issues concerning feminism and health care the first thing that occupies our mind is the question of sexuality and reproduction such as mortality of birth control or abortion.

     Health is not merely the absence of disease; it’s a lifestyle. Whether it’s getting enough sleep, relaxing after a stressful day, or enjoying a hobby, it’s important to take time to be good to yourself. Health concerns associated with smoking include cancer, lung disease, and early menopause, infertility, and pregnancy complications. Smoking triples the risk of dying from heart disease among those who are middle-aged. Obesity is at an all time high in the United States, and the epidemic may be getting worse. Those who are overweight or obese have increased chances of diseases and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.      When the Office of Women's Health was created in 1994, its original mandate was “to focus on the most significant health issues faced by women at every stage of their lives.” As times change, the health issues that are most important to women will also continue to evolve.

     Due to diverse types of women existing in this world, there is no unique strategy to promote good health among women. Women of different races, cultures and ethics are supported by the programs addressed by various organizations such as CDC (Centers For Disease Control) and AHRQ (Agency For Healthcare Research and Quality). How to increase mammogram usage among certain populations, increasing cardiovascular disease preventive behaviors,  promoting safer sex practices among at-risk women etc, are the motives of these organizations.

     In 1900 the major causes of women’s death in U.S were diseases and complications of pregnancy and childbirth. But the scenario is quite different today as these health problems get replaced by other chronic ones. “The controversy over legalized abortion has revealed many problems in the treatment of women by the medical establishment and has led to efforts to make medical personnel more sensitive to women's physical and psychological needs. These include efforts to win acceptance of midwives, to decrease medical intervention in the birth process, and to increase research on women's health issues.” (WILLIAM KORNBLUM AND JOSEPH JULIAN, Problems of Physical Health )

     Most of the women in U.S die due to heart disease while out of 185,000 women who suffer from breast cancer each year, only 140,000 survive. It is estimated that about 600,000 women have hysterectomy and its ratio is more than one-third in women of 60+ of age.4 million of women get targeted by domestic violence yearly and half of all women are the victims of chronic diseases by the age of 65. These women are usually low-classed and exist in minority.

     “Disability" is a broad term that interprets” a sizeable range of conditions and diseases”. It refers generally to a limitation in physical or mental function caused by one or more health conditions. 19.9 to 28.6 million U.S women have disabilities and the number is still increasing. Women, who are more often affected by the conditions causing disability and over half of all women who are 65+, are living with disability.

     The most common causes consist of back disorders, arthritis, heart disease, respiratory problems, and high blood pressure. Women experiencing disability can benefit from the public health efforts. Organizations like CDC give major emphasis on the welfare of these disabled women. They are doing there best to meet the needs of disabled women. Certain projects are made for urban African-American women in whom great emphasis is being given to exercise, nutrition and health education. It is necessary specifically for disabled women to have good access to health care as they have other health concerns additional to their disabilities. Women with disabilities experience the types of physical and mental abuse women in general do. But they are also subjected to the abuse of the caretakers who do not take good care of them.

     Sex violence is another crisis that the country is dealing with. According to a report by CDC: rape, assault, stalking and homicide by intimate partners cost more than $ 5.8 billion each year: $4.1 billion in direct medical and mental health services and almost $ 1.8 billion in productivity losses.

Leading causes of mortality in U.S surveyed by CDC in 2002:

All Races, Females

Percent*

 1. Heart Disease

28.6

 2. Cancer

21.6

 3. Stroke

8.0

 4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases

5.2

 5. Alzheimer's disease

3.4

 6. Diabetes

3.1

 7. Unintentional injuries

3.0

 8. Influenza and pneumonia

3.0

 9. Kidney disease

1.7

10. Septicemia

1.5

     To improve the health education among women, it is essential to understand that how can one best speak to a woman. For e.g. in African American community church plays an important role in the lives of its members. It’s the teaching of the church that makes people include certain habits in their routine. This method of health consciousness is practiced in Arkansas and the organizations are finding ways to implement them in North Carolina’s churches. This will provide women with cardiovascular disease preventive behaviors via a series of workshops; exercise classes etc.Health and safety start with being aware of your needs, having sound information, making choices, and taking action to live a better life. Women make health-related decisions for themselves, and oftentimes for their family and others.

     More then 50 percent of American women are not having physical activity in their daily routine while it is recommended that adults must have a physical activity for thirty minutes on daily basis. One should find the ways to stay in shape and feel good such as dancing, gardening, cutting the grass, swimming, walking, or jogging. In this way she can keep fit along with fun.

     When a young girl enters a kindergarten she may display some personality traits that she carries throughout her life, like being hot tempered and having fondness of cosmetics. Perhaps this is the best time for her to get all the information, guidance and resources to lead a healthy life ever after.

     The influence of sports has greatly affected young girls in United States. A girl who participates in sports loses interest in smoking. Smoking decreases substantially with the number of sports played. This will result in growing into a healthier woman for the girl.

     Regardless of socioeconomic status, parents may have the best intentions but might not know what information to pass on to their daughters. As a result, all girls are not empowered to make good choices. She may not have access to birth control and Pap tests and may not practice abstinence. She may not have the self-confidence necessary to get out of a bad relationship, and she may not have the support system to discourage her from smoking. A girl is more likely to be poor as a young adult if she begins having children during adolescence.

     Older women are more likely to have serious complications than young women, or even die from influenza (the winter flu).In 1977 the 5th major cause of death for 65+ women was influenza. Influenza is preventable but majority of the mature women do not get vaccinated Mature women should also get vaccinated with the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia.

     Isolation is another factor that needs to be considered for older woman. Unlike most of the older men, the older women are not married. This is due to the difference in life expectancy and the tendency of women to marry older men. 74 percent of American men older than 65 still have living wives, while only 40 percent of women over that age have husbands still living. Moreover, elderly women are far more likely than elderly men to live alone. According to 1990 statistics, 80 percent of the 9.2 million elderly persons living by themselves are female. Also there is a far more chance of being poor for these elderly women comparatively to their male counterparts. Most of these women are in a basic need of social and financial support. They have completely depended on their male counterparts for their material need and find it difficult for them to do the same tasks which they have performed in their life time. This kind of thinking makes them lose hopes and they begin to feel more insecure.

     The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by the year 2030, one in five Americans (and one in four American women) will be over 65, as the baby boomer generation moves from the middle years into old age. The most dramatic increase in the elderly population is occurring in the age group 85 and older, the so-called "old old”.
   Managing stress is the key factor for the working-women. Balancing obligations to her employer and her family can be challenging. In this case she should inhabit activities that are designated.

     More people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. In 2002 according to CDC’s survey,80,163 females were diagnosed with lung cancer and 67,509 females died from lung cancer.

     The most common cancers that targets U.S after lung cancer are breast cancer and cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is preventable and curable if it is detected early with regular screenings. About half of the women who are cervical cancer’s victims have never had Pap test. A woman can reduce her chances of developing cervical cancer by limiting her number of sexual partners, getting screened regularly, and following up any abnormal test results as recommended by her health care provider and refraining from smoking.

Ten leading causes of death among males and females, 2002 Females 

Bar graph showing the ten leading causes of death among females in 2002

     Surveys by CDC in 2002 showed birth rate down by 1 percent which was 14.1 percent per 1000 in 2001.It is the lowest rate that has been ever recorded in the national data available. The birth rate among women of peak childbearing age has also been declining. Birth rates for women in their 20s and early 30s were generally down while births to older mothers (35-44) were still on the rise. Rates were stable for women over 45.

     The percent of low birth weight babies (infants born weighing less than 2,500 grams) increased to 7.8 percent, up from 7.7 percent in 2001 and the highest level in more than 30 years. The birth rate for unmarried women was down slightly in 2002 to 43.6 per 1,000 unmarried women, reflecting the growing number of unmarried women in the population.

     These all is interlinked with the personal health of the woman and there remains a great concern in promoting women health in order to control the birth rates.
There is a need for identifying and reducing disparities in health care of minority women and addressing programs to women living in rural areas. While care for women with chronic illness and disabilities remain a major concern.

Conclusion:

     There are numerous ways to promote the health care for women in U.S. One can coordinate a health fair with free information and screenings, sponsor a wellness walk, schedule a health exam or screening, hold a town hall meeting on a health issue, note down general planning tips or plan a “Lunch and Learn” or health seminar.

References:

[01] SOCIAL PROBLEMS (WILLIAM KORNBLUM AND JOSEPH JULIAN, ELEVENTH EDITION)

[02] International Journal for Equity in Health 2005, 4:11 

[03] Programs In Brief: Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities,( Central of Dedas

[04] A Practical Journal For Nurse Practitioners (June 2002)

[05] www.kaisernetwork.org

   

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