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WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS QUARTERLY. RAPPORT TRIMESTRIEL DE STATISTIQUES SANITAIRES MONDIALES. 1987; 40(3):267-78.The primary cause of death in women in the world is cancer. In most developing countries cancer of the cervix is the most prevalent cancer. Breast cancer has this distinction in Latin America and the developed countries of North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. It is also the most prevalent cancer worldwide. The most common cancer in Japan and the Soviet Union is stomach cancer. Effective early detection programs can reduce both breast and cervical cancer mortality and also the degree and duration of treatment required. In Iceland, cervical cancer mortality declined 60% between the periods of 1959-1970 and 1975-1978. Programs consist of mammography, physician breast and self examination, and Pap smear. The sophisticated early detection equipment and techniques are expensive and largely located in urban areas, however, and not accessible to urban poor women and rural women, especially in developing countries. Tobacco smoking attributes to 80-90% of all lung cancer deaths worldwide and 30% of all cancer deaths. Passive smoking increases the risk of lung cancer to 25-35% in nonsmokers who breathe in tobacco smoke. Since smoking rates of women are skyrocketing, health specialists fear that lung cancer will replace cervical and breast cancers as the most common cancer in women worldwide in 20-30 years. Tobacco use also contributes to the high incidence of oral cancer in Southern and South Eastern Asia. For example, in India, incidence of oral cancer in women is 3-7 times higher than in developed countries with the smoking and chewing of tobacco in betel quid contributing. Techniques already exist to prevent 1/3 of all cancers. If cases can be discovered early enough and adequate treatment applied, another 1/3 of the cases can be cured. In those cases where the cancer cannot be cured, drugs can relieve 80-90% of the pain.
Lexington, Massachusetts, Women's International Network News, 1982 Nov. 338 p.This report documents the existence and prevalence in Africa and in other regions of the world of the cultural practice of female circumcision and genital mutilation (FC/GM). This serious problem is examined so that it can be abolished. Until recently the problem was hidden from the public, and most health, government and international agency officials denied that the practices were widespread. In 1979 at a World Health Organization (WHO) seminar on traditional health practices, the problem received international attention. Recommendations made by the seminar participants urged nations to adopt policies to abolish FC/GM, to establish commissions to coordinate activities aimed at abolishing the practices, and to intensify efforts to educate the public and health professionals about the problem. In 1984 it was estimated that 79.97 million women in Africa had FC/GM operations performed at some time during their life. The proportion of women who have had FC/GM operations was almost 100% in Somalia, 90% in Ethiopia, 80% in Sudan, Mali, and Sierra Leone, and 60% in Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Gambia. Information is provided on 1) the extent of the practices, 2) the health problems associated with FC/GM, 3) the 1979 WHO seminar, 4) the history of FC/GM, and 5) the cultural beliefs supporting the practices. Case histories provide detailed information on the practices in 11 African countries, 4 countries on the Arab Pennisula, and 2 Asian countries, including Sudan, Somalia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Upper Volta, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The existence of FC/GM practices in many other countries, including Western nations, is also documented. These practices are also discussed in reference to the depressed status of women in many African countries, and the role of women in these countries is examined in regard to legal matters, education, employment, agriculture, family planning, development, and urbanization. Political factors hindering the abolition of the practices and the hesitancy of international agencies such as WHO, US Agency for International Development, and the UN Children's Fund, to deal with the problem are discussed. There is some evidence that FC/GM operations are being conducted in hospitals in a number of African countries, and efforts must be made to prohibit the introduction of these practices into the modern health care system. Suggestions are provided for action and education programs aimed at abolishing FC/GM practices. An annotated bibliograpy, containing 78 references, is also provided.