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  1. 1

    Undoing the curse of neo-natal tetanus.

    Robbins K

    CHILD SURVIVAL ACTION NEWS. 1988 Apr; (9):1-2.

    Present thinking regarding the control of neonatal tetanus (NT) suggests that the accepted protocol in the past, i.e., immunizing pregnant women with tetanus toxoid (TT) during antenatal care, is not sufficient in countries where antenatal care may be unavailable. Current control strategies, experts, and official World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations now indicate that efforts should reach beyond immunization of pregnant women and the training of traditional birth attendants in hygienic cord care practice to immunization of all women of childbearing age. Babies continue to die form NT because it is so difficult to reach women during pregnancy for immunization. Lack of commitment to expanding immunization programs as Who recommends stems in part from failure at both national and local levels to acknowledge the extent of the neonatal tetanus problem. NT is vastly underreported for several reasons: cultural practices often include the seclusion of women and their babies during the period after birth; people in developing countries have a fatalistic attitude because so many children die within the 1st year of life; newborns are rarely taken to health centers for treatment; health workers may fail to report NT for fear that their superiors will blame them for failure to immunize or for poor care of the umbilical cord; Western medicine and research has a curative rather than a preventive focus; and gathering information on NT by asking mothers to recall deaths of newborns with symptoms of NT is difficult because many women are ashamed or otherwise unwilling to report the event. The WHO believes that conventional reporting systems in developing countries identify only 2-4% of actual NT cases. Without sound documentation of the problem, it is difficult to gain financial and political commitment to eradicating NT. The VIII International Conference on Tetanus that occurred in Leningrad during 1987 outlined WHO's recommendation for a mixed strategy to control and eliminate tetanus: immunize all women of childbearing age, with special emphasis on pregnant women and women known to belong to high risk groups; assure hygienic delivery and umbilical care through training and supervision of birth attendants; and investigate cases to determine what action could have prevented them.
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  2. 2

    The ethical, political and medical consequences of the new reproductive technologies.


    This paper, prepared for European planned parenthood associations, reviews the range of political and ethical reactions to new reproductive technologies. Planned parenthood federations are committed to ensure that women and human living material are protected both from unethical scientific manipulation and exploitation for profit and that candidates for infertility treatment are given appropriate counseling. Within these limits, research into the causes and treatment of infertility has been encouraged. On the other hand, so-called pro-life forces challenge research in this area on the grounds that the sanctity of human life may be violated. A more recent development has been the emergence of feminist opposition to reproductive research on the grounds that it threatens to lead to the expropriation of women as childbearers. The potential removal of reproduction from people is viewed as a further devaluation of women's status and concern is voiced that pre-embryo screening may take the form of benign eugenics. Feminists further argue that in vitro fertilization services are disproportionately available to white, middle-class women. Finally, it is feared that the incorporation of sex preselection into the population programs of Third World countries will become possible as a logical extension of current importation to developing countries of chemical contraceptives (eg Depo-Provera) regarded as unsuitable for use in the US. In the face of such arguments, both from pro-life and feminist forces, planned parenthood federations are urged to be clear about potential uses and abuses of the new reproductive technologies.
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  3. 3

    Why menstruate?

    Short RV

    Healthright. 1985 Aug; 4(4):9-12.

    The pattern of reproductive activity displayed by early hunter-gatherer ancestors, before the dawn of civilization, must have been vastly different from today's pattern. In the absence of contraception such women would have spent the greater part of their reproductive lives either pregnant or in lactational amenorrhea. In developing these ideas further it was estimated that a hunter-gatherer woman would have spent about 15 years in lactational amenorrhea, whereas just under 4 years would have been occupied by her 5 pregnancies, and she would only have had about 4 years of menstrual cycles. The total number of menstrual cycles she would experience in her entire life would be no more than about 50. This is in marked contrast to the situation today in a typical Western woman using contraceptives and experiencing menarche at 13 and the menopause at 50. Allowing her 2 years' respite from cycles during her 2 pregnancies, each followed by only a token period of breastfeeding, this leaves 35 years during which she would experience about 420 menstrual cycles. The conclusion is that an excessive number of menstrual cycles is an iatrogenic disorder of communities practicing any form of contraception. Thus, it is important to note that even the condom or vasectomy have important repercussions on the female's reproductive cycle. Since 99.9% of human existence has been spent living a nomadic hunter-gatherer life, this high frequency of menstrual cycles is a new experience, one that humans may be genetically ill-adapted to cope with. In fact, there are a number of "diseases of nulliparity" whose incidence is markedly increased in women with few or no children and who are therefore experiencing an increased number of menstrual cycles. These diseases include carcinoma of the breast, endometrium and ovaries, and endometriosis. As part of the effort to develop contraceptives that promote a healthy state of fertility, it is necessary to ask the question, "is a period really necessary?" To learn if women women accept a contraceptive method that reduced the frequency of menstruation, a clinical trial of an oral contraceptive was conducted. The OC was administered in such a way as to produce a withdrawal bleed only once every 3 months. This was termed the tricycle pill regimen. 196 women attending a family planning clinic in Edinburgh, Scotland, volunteered to participate, although 89 of them subsequently withdrew from the trial for a variety of reasons before it was completed at the end of a year. Overall, 82% of the women positvely welcomed the reduction in the number of periods; 91% of the women who completed the trial even refused to revert to a standard monthly OC regimen thereafter. The findings were in complete contrast to the results of a World Health Organization survey of patterns and perceptions of menstruation. But the WHO sample was highly biased in favor of women having regular menstrual cycles, and hence quite unrepresentative of the population as a whole. In sum, even the most pessimistic estimate of the WHO's menstruation survey shows that a proportion of women in every country investigated were prepared to accept amenorhea as a by-product of contraception. Reversible amenorrhea might become an increasingly popular form of contraception, and it might also confer significant health benefits.
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  4. 4

    Measles: summary of worldwide impact.

    Assaad F

    REVIEWS OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES. 1983 May-Jun; 5(3):452-9.

    This summary of the worldwide impact of measles discusses epidemiology, reported incidence, clinical severity, community attitudes toward measles, and the impact of immunization programs on measles. Measles, 1 of the most ubiquitous and persistent of human viruses, occurs regularly everywhere in the world except in very remote and isolated areas. Strains of measles virus from different counties are indistinguishable, and serum antibodies from diverse population have identical specificity. Yet, the epidemic pattern, average age at infection, and mortality vary considerably from 1 area to another and provide a contrasting picture between the developing and the developed countries. In the populous areas of the world, measles causes epidemics every 2-5 years, but in the rapidly expanding urban conglomerations in the developing world, the continuous immigration from the rural population provides a constant influx of susceptible individuals and, in turn, a sustained occurrence of measles and unclear epidemic curves. In the economically advanced nations, measles epidemics are closely tied to the school year, building up to a peak in the late spring and ceasing abruptly after the summer recess begins. Maternal antibody usually confers protection against measles to infants during the 1st few months of life. The total number of cases of measles reported to WHO for 1980 is 2.9 million. Considering that in the developing world alone almost 100 million infants are born yearly, that less than 20% of them are immunized against measles, and that various studies indicate that almost all nonimmunized children get measles, less than 3 million cases of measles in 1980 is a gross underestimate. There was adecrease in the global number of reported cases of measles during the 1979-80 period due primarily to the reduction in the number of cases in the African continent and, to a lesser extent, in Europe. It is premature to conclude that such a reported decline is real and that it reflects the beginning of a longterm trend. The contrast between the developed and the developing worlds is most marked in relation to the severity and outcome of measles. Case fatality rates of more than 20% have been reported from West Africa. It has been estimated that 900,000 deaths occur yearly in the developing world because of measles, but data available to WHO indicate that the global case fatality rate in the developing world approaches 2% (in contrast to 2/10,000 cases in the US), and the actal mortality may be greater than 1.5 million deaths per year. The advent of WHO's Expanded Program on Immunization has brought about an awareness of the measles problem. Whenever and wherever measles vaccine has been used effectively on a large scale, a marked reduction in the number of cases has been recorded.
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