Tag Archives: women in poverty

Uganda Fights Poverty to Take On Breast Cancer

Julian Omidi looks at a report on how poverty and a lack of education about breast cancer is affecting Uganda as well as all throughout Africa.

Breast cancer is the world’s most common cancer in women and is the leading cause of cancer death, with 1.6 million cases a year and more than 450,000 deaths.

Breast cancer in Africa is usually not diagnosed until it has reached Stage 4, the final stage where the cancer has invaded organs or bones and cannot be cured. If the disease could be found earlier, this is known as “downstaging”, and treatment is started at Stage 3, before the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, they could increase a woman’s odds of survival by 30% according to the 2012 World Breast Cancer Report, published by the International Prevention Research Institute.

Unlike in richer countries that offer mammograms every year or two to all healthy women over the age of 40, there are nowhere near machines, or enough trained people in Africa to run the machines, to maintain them, and to read the scans properly.

Earlier diagnosis in Uganda would not require mammograms to search for tiny tumors too small to feel. Instead, American experts hope to help downstage breast cancer in Uganda by teaching doctors to use ultrasound to examine lumps that women have already noticed and identify those who need urgent treatment. Ultrasound works better than mammography in younger women, and can help distinguish cysts and other benign growths from lumps that need biopsies.

Uganda is trying to improve the treatment of all types of cancer. The Ugandan government has paid for a new hospital and clinic that has been added to the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala, but they have not opened yet due to a lack of equipment, as well enough trained people.

The biggest problems for breast cancer patients is that the cancer institute does not yet offer surgery or radiation, so women seek such treatments at Mulago Hospital. It has the only radiation machine in the country and it is long past its prime. There is such a high demand for treatment that the machine is kept running day and night, and there is a multitude of problems of bribery that delays or denies treatment.

The new hospital will bring the institute’s first operating rooms, with hope to add a radiation center. Hospital administrators also want to improve its pathology labs so they can perform tests that will help determine which treatments will best suit each patient. In addition, a new cancer research center with another clinic is being built with money from Uganda, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Hutchinson center in Seattle.

Dr. Jackson Orem, the direct of the cancer institute, believes what is ultimately needed is a nationwide cancer program involving clinics in remote areas and a system to refer patients who need specialized treatment to the cancer institute.

“My prayer,” Dr. Orem, 51, said, “is to see that by the time I retire, there is a system in place, a safety net for cancer patients.”

For more information, please check out this article from the New York Times.


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The Issues Faced By Women in Poverty

In the wake of International Women’s Day, Julian Omidi looks at the issues faced by women in poverty around the world.

On International Women’s Day the following meme was circulated to highlight the inequality that women experience around the world:

Women's Inequality Meme

It was later shown that these statistics could not be fully substantiated by any sources, but it does raise the question of what women experience when it comes to poverty and inequality.

According to the Global Poverty Project statistics, despite the fact that women make up roughly 50% of the global population, women account for 70% of those living in poverty around the world. There are many different factors that lead to this inequality, so let’s take a look at some of these key issues.

  • Gender Wage Gap – According to a recent article in the Washington Post, a lifetime gender wage gap of $431,000 exists between men and women in the United States. While life choices such as leaving the workforce to have children or deciding to work in a lower-paying occupation contribute to women earning roughly$0.77 for every $1 a man makes, when these life choices are factored out women still earn $0.91 for every dollar a man makes, a gap that many researchers identify as discrimination. The gender wage gap is not just a problem in the United States; in both developed and developing nations there can be a significant wage gap between men and women. In developed nations such as South Korea and Japan men earn wages 30% higher than women. In Germany and Canada the percentage gap exceeds 20% as well. In countries in Africa the wage gap (as of 2007) varied from 61% in Morocco to 80% in Egypt.
  •  Stages of Life for Girls and Women in Poverty – The Global Poverty Info Bank provides a thorough look at the problems facing women in poverty from birth to adulthood, and it is highly suggested that to get a comprehensive picture of the inequalities that women face that you read it for yourself. Some of the important factors that are examined include the higher risk that baby girls born into poverty face of female infanticide, lack of proper feeding and nutrition in favor of a male child, and genital mutilation that can result in infection, pain, or even premature death. When women reach child-bearing age many die during childbirth due to undernourishment or associated disease; in fact, roughly 99% of the women who die during child birth annually live in developing nations, roughly a girl or woman every minute. 

The question now becomes “What Can Be Done?” Some of the best courses of action include:

  • Education – Making sure that young girls and women have access to education and are enrolled in primary school is crucial. Women that have at least basic literacy skills have a better chance to succeed in the work force and make higher earnings, have lowered maternal mortality rates, and are more likely to send their own children to school. 
  • Micro-Credit Provisions – As proven in Bangladesh, women that have access to small loans are able to make better financial decisions, have increased awareness regarding legal and political issues, and have more financial mobility.

Promoting female empowerment and equality will help in the global effort to eradicate poverty and provide a better future for the women of the world in the present and future.

By Julian Omidi


Women in Poverty



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