Vote For Health: Women and Lung Health

MARCH 2013
This is a special issue of Vote For Health e-magazine on the theme: Women and Lung Health. Vote For Health e-magazine presents select news articles penned by members of CNS Health Writers' Network from African and Asian countries on specific themes every month. We are grateful to International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) for its support and The Union experts who helped Health Writers tremendously in developing their articles.
Sam Banda Jnr, Malawi
The world on March 8 every year celebrates the International Women's Day which, originally, was known as International Working Women's Day. The focus of the day involves general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women for women's political and social achievements. In some countries, however, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner. Read more
Gugulethu Nyazema, Zimbabwe     
Zimbabwean women are suffering health risks arising from being exposed to indoor smoke. But the problem is not unique to Zimbabwe: nearly three billion people, most living in low-income countries, rely on solid fuel for cooking, lighting and heating. Health experts said the great challenge is that Zimbabweans are unaware of the problem, making them more vulnerable to it. “The diseases that women get from the smoke exposure occur only after many years of and this means that they are unlikely to make the connection between exposure and the disease,” local doctor Manikai Nyandoro said. Nyandoro said that the best way to inform people and engage them for change is to select “change agents” in the community who are affected by the problem. 

Lung diseases a major killer of women
Moses Wasamu, Kenya
The International Women’s Day is marked all over the world to celebrate the positive developments that have taken place among women. Annually on March 8, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. However, despite the positive developments that have been experienced, women still face many challenges in life. The unfortunate fact is that globally, women's health is worse than that of men. Lung disease is one of the top three causes of death among women worldwide. The World Health Organisation says the leading risk factor is tobacco use, and the sad fact is that it is on the rise among women. Read more 
Tuberculosis and women: The case of Swaziland
Alice M Tembe, Swaziland
Tuberculosis, commonly called TB, is caused by microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It can be pulmonary in nature, when it affects the lungs and is highly infectious or extra pulmonary when it affects some part of the body other than the lungs and is less communicable. TB can be latent (meaning the TB bacteria are in the person’s body but are not causing illness) and it can be active whereby the bacteria causes illness. Tuberculosis is transmitted through the air from exposure to bacilli in the sputum by inhalation through the mouth or nose via the trachea leading to the lungs. Read more  
What Factors Predispose Women To Lung Cancer?
Okeoghene Oghenekaro, Nigeria
Mrs. Christy Efemena, 59, a mother of four children, had never smoked a cigarette in her life, just as Mrs. Joyce Adefila, 47, a mother of five had never done. Ironically, they were both victims of lung cancer and unfortunately, they were not able to survive the disease in spite of series of treatments, including chemotherapy, at home and abroad. Such cases tend to elicit some thought-provoking questions as to why non-smokers die of lung cancer in spite of the fact that smoking is adjudged to be one of the major causes of the disease. Read more  

Women need protection from indoor air pollution 
Bernard Appiah, Ghana 
A rat burrows into a small bushy hill, and makes the hole its abode, supplying food and leafy "clothing" into it. Men or boys, dressed in sweat-drenched shirts bent on having bush meat put fire materials like dry leaves in front of the hole, light a match, resulting in fire and smoke. Then they begin to fan the smoke directly into the hole resulting in the sound "pupupupupupu" while hunting dogs and other interested men anxiously look on. Roughly 10 to 20 minutes later, the smoke forces the unfortunate rat to jump out of its abode into the paths of its enemies who chase it and literally arrest it. Read more

TB: yet another killer of women
Carolyn Kavita Tauro - CNS 
According to the WHO In 2011, an estimated 8.7 million people fell ill with tuberculosis and 1.4 million people died from it, including 0.5 million women, making TB one of the top three causes of death for women aged 15 to 44 worldwide. “Although the ratio of males to females affected by TB in the pre-puberty and childhood ages is almost equal, this changes significantly in adulthood, and we find almost 4 men per 1 woman affected with TB,” according to Dr Sarabjit Chadha, Project Director at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), India. Dr Chadha attributes this to “access related issues considering that women in the rural settings do not have a similar health seeking behavior as men. Also, issues of poverty and malnutrition are more relevant in case of women because of gender inequality.” Read more 
Bobby Ramakant - CNS  
Tuberculosis care and control came under gender lens when participants attending Western Regional Consultative Meeting of Partnership for TB Care and Control in India (PTCCI) shared their perspectives on TB and women. This regional consultation was held in Indore, Madhya Pradesh during 5-6 March 2013. If we look at data, number of new TB infections in India was more in men than women. However statistics on male: female ratio in new TB cases is different too in some parts of India. Read more  

All I Want Is Clean And Safe Air 
Shobha Shukla - CNS  
Breath is life, and yet the importance of lung health is under-recognised, especially in women. No wonder then that lung disease (including respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis, lung cancer and asthma) accounts for more than 16% deaths among women worldwide. Exposure to tobacco smoke and indoor air pollution, from using solid fuels for cooking and heating, are the two leading risk factors that impact women’s lung health much more than that of men, especially in low/middle income countries. Each of these pollutants kills over 1.5 million women worldwide every year. Read more  

Media dialogue on Women and Lung Health: News coverage

Managing Editor: Shobha Shukla - CNS: