Cover Image
close this bookSCN News, Number 09 - Focus on Micronutritients (ACC/SCN, 1993, 70 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentRecent ACC/SCN publications
View the documentAddressing Micronutrient Malnutrition
View the documentMicronutrient Deficiency -The Global Situation
View the documentEffectiveness of Vitamin A Supplementation in the Control of Young Child Morbidity and Mortality in Developing Countries*
View the documentZinc Deficiency - Is It Widespread but Under-Recognized?
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSummary
View the documentTHE NEED FOR A “LIFE-STAGE” APPROACH TO MICRONUTRIENT INTERVENTIONS - A Comment on Micronutrient Intervention Strategies ACC/SCN Micronutrient Forum, Geneva, February 1993
close this folderNEWS AND VIEWS
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAnaemia in Women
View the documentVitamin A Dispenser
View the documentVitamin A, Zinc and Stomach Cancer
View the documentDoubly Fortified Salt Marketed for the First Time
View the documentXV IVACG Meeting
View the documentControlling Vitamin A Deficiency - Policy Implications of Mortality Impact
View the documentUpdate on the UNICEF/WHO Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
View the documentBreastfeeding Trends in Cuba
View the documentStatement by the World Food Programme on Implementing the International Conference on Nutrition Plan of Action
View the documentAustralia's Food and Nutrition Policy: Progress Report
View the documentGrowth Patterns in Breastfed and Formula Fed Babies
View the documentBreastfeeding Protects Against Diarrhoea's Effect on Growth
View the documentNew Bill Restricts Marketing of Infant Foods in India
View the documentUrinary Tract Infection and Breastfeeding - Evidence of Link
View the documentGlobal Eradication of Polio by the Year 2000 - an Achievable Goal?
View the documentSubstance Abuse Amongst Street Children
View the documentMortality Assessment in Somalia
View the documentIs Lead Damage Reversible?
View the documentTropical Diseases - New WHO Research Targets
View the documentDr Fernando Antezana Appointed Assistant Director-General of World Health Organization
View the documentMany Neighbours, One Earth - New Campaign to Transform US Foreign Aid
View the documentCo-financing Opportunities with the Asian Development Bank
View the documentWHO Division of Food and Nutrition
View the document20 Years of Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre 1973-1993
View the documentWorld Breastfeeding Week 1993 - Mother Friendly Workplace Initiative
View the documentStudies in Nutrition at the University of Queensland
View the documentMaster of Community Nutrition (MCN)
View the documentResearch training (MMedSc and PhD)
View the documentDr J E Dutra de Oliveira Selected Fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences
View the documentWorld Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction
View the documentOxfam Launches New Campaign for Africa
View the documentSecond Asian Conference on Food Safety
View the documentECSA Micronutrient Symposium
View the documentTraining Materials in Basic and Applied Nutrition
View the documentIUNS Awards - Correction
close this folderPUBLICATIONS
View the document“Hunger 1993: Uprooted People”
View the document“Child Malnutrition: Progress Toward the World Summit for Children Goal”
View the document“Investing in Nutrition with World Bank Assistance”
View the document“Understanding Intrahousehold Resource Allocation”
View the document“The Health of Women: A Global Perspective”
View the document“The Incidence of Poverty in Developing Countries: A Compendium of ILO Data”
View the document“Food, Health and Care: The UNICEF Vision and Strategy for a World Free from Hunger and Malnutrition”
View the document“Breastfeeding, Growth & Illness: An Annotated Bibliography”
View the document“The State of Breastfeeding in Ghana: Practices and Promotion”
View the document“The Economic Rationale for Investing in Nutrition in Developing Countries”
View the documentUrban Nutrition in Developing Countries
View the documentBack Cover

“The Health of Women: A Global Perspective”

(1993) Edited by Marge Koblinsky, Judith Timyan and Jill Gay, published by Westview Press. 291 pages.


The Health of Women: A Global Perspective is essential reading for topics to include in a women's health agenda in developing countries. The strength of this book is the depth of its perspective. Much more is included than the medical aspects of maternal morbidity and mortality. As the titles of the chapters indicate, the health of women in developing countries is placed in a comprehensive context:

1. Women's Health: The Price of Poverty.

2. Mother and More: A Broader Perspective on Women's Health.

3. Women's Nutrition through the Life Cycle: Social and Biological Vulnerabilities.

4. Infection: Social and Medical Realities.

5. Family Planning: A Base to Build on for Women's Reproductive Health Services.

6. Abortion.

7. Women's Mortality: A Legacy of Neglect.

8. Violence against Women: The Missing Agenda.

9. Women's Mental Health: A Global Perspective.

10. Access to Care: More than a Problem of Distance.

11. Quality of Care: A Neglected Dimension.

12. Health Women's Way: Learning to Listen.

Each chapter justifies inclusion of its topic in a women's health agenda for developing countries. The reasons for each topic's inclusion are clearly and strongly presented, supported by relevant statistics. Each chapter provides a fresh perspective. Either the topic of the chapter itself is fresh (e.g., violence, mental health) or the approach towards it is fresh (infection, family planning). Each chapter also includes thoughtful and practical recommendations, often categorized for policy, program, and research.

The audience for this book is broad. It includes people who have not yet considered women's health in developing countries, and would benefit from seeing a comprehensive agenda; people who are convinced of the need to address women's health concerns, but need information and new approaches with which to convince others; and people who need suggestions on how to design health services to better meet women's needs.

Chapter 1 makes the case that poverty is a major factor in women's poor health. Poverty limits women's access to health care and reduces women's decisions to seek care, yet increases women's chances of suffering ill health. Chapter 2, “Mother and More” reviews existing information on the levels of morbidity for those conditions that most frequently cause maternal mortality: ill health consequences of hemorrhage, obstructed labor, infection, gestational hypertension, and septic abortion. Other topics reviewed are what is known about the menstrual cycle, ill health consequences of women's work, and the health 'isues of aging women.

Chapter 3 discusses women's nutrition, first in terms of social vulnerability, due to women's low status, in each of four life cycle stages (preference for males in infancy/childhood, early reproductive role in adolescence, multiple roles in the reproductive years, and marginalization in the later years), and second in terms of biological vulnerability, due to women's reproductive role. Chapter 4 on infections (reproductive tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV) has useful sections on existing interventions and considerations for designing them.

Chapter 5 presents family planning as one of the basic and most important preventative health care services for women. To play this role effectively, family planning “services must be available to women in a way that incorporates and satisfies their other primary of reproductive health care needs and is simultaneously responsive to the various stages of their reproductive lives,” and the chapter outlines ways in which this can be done. Chapter 6 on abortion addresses ways to reduce the poor health outcomes of unsafely performed abortions, chief among which is promotion of family planning services to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Other strategies for tackling the problem of ill health effects of unsafe abortions are safe technologies and access to safe care.

Chapter 7 on women's mortality discusses both mortality due to the low status of women, and maternal mortality (deaths due to complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the early postpartum months). Specific priorities are outlined for reducing maternal mortality. Chapter 8 on violence presents a compilation of available statistics on domestic violence, dowry deaths, rape and sexual assault, violence against refugee women, female circumcision, and discrimination against girl children. Following the grim statistics, the author gives examples of ways women are fighting against violence in their lives, and makes action-oriented recommendations for reducing this problem.

In Chapter 9 on mental health, the author starts by challenging the myth that mental health is a luxury item. She then describes the most prevalent types of mental illness in women of different age groups, and ends by outlining an effective mental health policy. Chapter 10 on access to care discusses thoroughly the many factors that constrain women's access to health care services. On the service side are factors such as service organisation, service location, characteristics of personnel, structural adjustment, cost and quality of services. On the user side are factors such as informational barriers, decision-making dynamics, and cultural barriers. Specific recommendations are made to reduce each of these constraints to women's access to health care.

Chapter 11 on quality of care outlines characteristics of the delivery of health services to ensure quality, and thus use, of services. The original audience for the quality-of-care arguments was the family planning community, but applies to a variety of health services that could be serving women's health concerns. Chapter 12 describes the importance of listening to women in order to design health services to meet their needs. Programs that meet women's needs are more likely to be sustained and to be more effective. Perhaps more importantly, the authors describe eloquently effective methods for listening to women to discern these needs.

The Safe Motherhood Initiative was launched six years ago after the high rates of maternal mortality became apparent. It focused on mortality of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and the early postpartum months. While the Initiative has brought long overdue attention and programmatic action to a problem of enormous proportion, it is gratifying to see that the specific focus of the Initiative is now being complemented by a broader focus of women's health in developing countries.

For order and other information, please write to: Westview Press, 5500 Central Avenue, Boulder, Colorado 80301-2877 or 36 Lonsdale Road, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7EW.

Kathleen Kurz International
Center for Research on Women