Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

WHEC Update - May, 2007

A Newsletter of worldwide activity of Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)
May 2007; Vol. 2, No. 5

Now is the time to review some of the highlights in our popular publications -- WomensHealthSection.com and WHEC Update. There is natural curiosity about the secret of success. It requires more than money to build a successful publication. It takes hard work, determination and passion -- we got all three. With an education, equality and a voice, we have the power to help stop spread of disease. The power to start new projects / programs. The power, ultimately, to help an entire society move forward. That is why WHEC is working to empower women worldwide. It is time for empowerment. Every year is crucial for the 3 billion people who are entrapped in poverty. The goal of ending extreme poverty is vital not solely as a matter of compassion. The world economy will benefit enormously from the contributions of those who are able to move from a state of dependency to full participation. Not just aid but also ideas -- in particular the idea of legal rights, universal health coverage, access to quality healthcare -- will be crucial for reducing poverty. Poverty and maternal mortality / morbidity have direct link. The wide acceptance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the international community confirms the central role of human development, including health and nutrition, in combating poverty. We hope our projects / programs help strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development. We will be little too optimistic about human development.

Legal empowerment has been recognized as a useful approach to poverty reduction only if it offers political leaders a viable path for implementing large-scale reforms. Policymakers are increasingly open to newer concepts, designed not only to alleviate the symptoms of poverty, but also to attack root causes. One such idea is explored by the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, an UN-affiliated initiative. Former US secretary of state, Madeline Albright, co-chairs the commission with Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist who champions the idea that the poor remain poor in part because they do not have legal rights. The importance of legal empowerment now also figures prominently in the strategies of organizations that have become partners of the commission, including the UNDP (United Nations Development Program), the World Bank, the International Labor Organization (ILO), UN Habitat and Inter-American Development Bank. The commission's mandate is daunting but also vital, for legal empowerment can add much to the world's arsenal in its ongoing struggle to save and enrich human lives.

We want to hear from you!
Rita Luthra, MD

Your Questions, Our Reply:

Is health-status of women one of the most sensitive indicators of progress in social development?

Social Development: Women illustrate better than any other population group the combined impact of poverty, unemployment and social disintegration on health and quality of life. The development and prosperity of any society directly depend on the strength and creativity of its people. Women's poor health status has a high economic cost in terms of lost productivity; in addition, their ability to provide adequate care and support for themselves and their families is very much diminished. The healthy development of child ensures that child is able to grow up, attend school and acquire skills, find gainful employment, achieve personal autonomy and live a self-fulfilling and productive life within its family and community. Poverty remains the main obstacle to health development. For millions of people, poverty implies lack of access to proper food, water and shelter, and therefore greater vulnerability to disease. In many industrialized countries, urban poverty is increasing, multiplying violence, drug abuse and risk of HIV infection.

Everywhere, poverty and unemployment lead to a deterioration in health and jeopardize social cohesion. Health can be used as a rallying cry to foster social cooperation and consensus; it is thus a more powerful tool in coping with violence than confrontation. Unemployment, marginalization, and poverty are conditions that result in poorer health and are exacerbated by the discrimination girls and women face throughout their lives. In virtually every society, women face discrimination in education and employment, as well as social and economic status, all of which contribute to a heightened vulnerability to disease and ill-health. If the world community endorses the concept of equality in health, it will commit itself to achieving a better quality of life for all people and reducing differences in health status among countries and between population groups. As countries develop and implement their Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS), one of the key challenges is to identify actions that will have the greatest impact on poverty and improve the lives of the poor. The challenge is compounded by the fact that poverty has many dimensions, cuts across many sectors, and is experienced differently by women and by men.

In no region of the developing world are women equal to men in legal, social and economic rights. Gender gaps are widespread in access to and control of resources, in economic opportunities, in power and political voice. Gender equality is a development objective on its own -- it also makes good business sense as it is central to economic growth and sustainable development.

We at Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC) put particular emphasis on improving the health and well-being of women to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and women's health to be used as a powerful progress indicator in achieving social development.

About NGO Association with the UN:

Fifth Committee: Administrative and Budgetary -- It confines its scope not just to "budgetary and administration" issues, it also monitors United Nations activities as diverse as reviewing human resources management policies and establishing strengthened security management systems to protect UN staff members worldwide. In a nutshell, it "considers all issues relating to the machinery of the Organization". A budget outline is normally presented at the end of the "official budget" year and contains an estimate of resources to accommodate the United Nations main priorities, positive or negative growth compared with the previous budget and the size of the contingency fund. It also reflects inflation and exchange rate variations, as well as additional mandates approved after the adoption of biennium budget. Non-payment of dues by the Member States ultimately affects the Organization's ability to deliver, since resources must be juggled from other parts of the system -- to keep programs on tracks. Whether countries are rich or poor, they are all obligated to pay the contributions. One of the main features of the new scale was the reduction of the maximum rates of assessment from 25 to 22 per cent. Subsequently, the new ceiling has been applied to the United Nations main contributor -- the United States -- and the points arising as a result of the change were distributed among other States. On the Committee's recommendation, the General Assembly also acted on a wide range of other issues, such as human resources management, financing for the international tribunals, the United Nations contingency fund, the Organization's first performance report, and reports of UN oversight bodies. Towards a unified security system.

Collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO):

Science-based companies consider patent protection one of the main forms of expanding their powers of appropriation. Powers of appropriation are those mechanisms, including legal rights and entitlements, which allow individuals or entities to control the distribution of value created. A framework for measuring the degree of public health-sensitivity of patent legislation reformed after World Trade Organization's TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement entered in force is proposed. It involves three main steps: (1) a literature review on TRIPS flexibilities related to the protection of public health and provisions considered "TRIPS-plus"; (2) content validation through consensus techniques (an adaptation of Delphi method); and (3) an analysis of patent legislation from nineteen Latin American and Caribbean countries. The framework's potential usefulness in monitoring patent legislation changes arises from its clear parameters for measuring patent legislation's degree of health sensitivity. Nevertheless, it can be improved by including indicators related to government and organized society initiatives that minimize free-trade agreements' negative effects on access to medicines. For details please visit -- World Intellectual Property Organization: www.wipo.int/clea/en/

Bulletin of the World Health Organization; Volume 85, Number 5, May 2007, 325-420 Table of contents

Collaboration with UN University (UNU):

Peace and Governance -- Freedom from Fear: UNU strives to promote sustainable peace and good governance. Humankind cannot live free of fear when over a billion people continue to live in servitude to want. Equally, however, an environment of insecurity degrades the prospects for economic growth and development. The Peace and Governance Program examines the nature, roots, outbreaks, tools and consequences of conflict; and how to prevent, manage and resolve conflict. It develops recommendations and guidelines for making the world safer and better, for people of all faiths and ages, through just and equitable institutions and policies, protection and promotion of human rights, and enhancement of the quality of life.

Point of View:

Tracing adverse and favorable factors in pregnancy care, the TRACE technique

"Knowing the precise reasons why women die will enable a start to be made in addressing the specific problems to be overcome" [WHO, 2004]

Meaningful assessment of the quality of maternity health care services in developing countries is crucial for improving care. We developed the TRACE technique, based on the confidential enquiry method, to investigate why maternal death or severe obstetric morbidity occurs and to identify opportunities for improving services. In TRACE, contributing factors in cases of maternal death or severe obstetric morbidity are identified by committees of local health care providers. The committees use anonymous data (clinical case notes, medical records, or verbal accounts of events during the provision of care) to assess events according to a specific framework. Assessments are collected and patterns identified to generate recommendations for practice. The TRACE approach is novel in that effort is made to identify favorable, as well as adverse, factors. This helps alleviate some of the anxiety and defensiveness felt by health professionals when an enquiry is undertaken (1).

TRACE has been applied to assess the quality of emergency obstetric care provided in communities through the Indonesian village midwife program and the clinical quality of care in hospitals before and after introduction of a fee exemption policy in Ghana. Despite considerable commitment to these safe motherhood strategies from the Ghanaian and Indonesian Governments, it is not certain whether the resources invested have resulted in improvements in care, and how further improvements could be achieved. In two diverse settings, the method proved to be a means for achieving improved resource allocation by identifying locally relevant adaptations to services. The enquiry represented a sustained effort by local providers to learn from adverse events. And the method was a learning tool fostering self-reflection, awareness and an understanding of the needs of pregnant women for those involved. The TRACE technique is freely available for local application as part of the IMMPACT Toolkit. It is a resource collection of research tools developed by IMMPACT, with guidance on how to design and conduct evaluations of complex health interventions for safe motherhood.

By Julia Hussein and Lucia D'Ambruoso
IMMPACT, University of Aberdeen
Health Sciences Building, Foresterhill
Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD, United Kingdom


  1. Hussein J. Improving the use of confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in developing countries. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2007; 85: 68-69.

Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS):

Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS "Global Crisis -- Global Action": series continues

  1. Affirming the key role played by the family in prevention, care, support and treatment of persons affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, bearing in mind that in different cultural, social and political systems various forms of the family exist;
  2. Affirming that beyond the key role played by communities, strong partnerships among Governments, the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations, people living with HIV/AIDS and vulnerable groups, medical, scientific and educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, the business sector including generic and research-based pharmaceutical companies, trade unions, media, parliamentarians, foundations, community organizations, faith-based organizations and traditional leaders are important;
  3. Acknowledging the particular role and significant contribution of people living with HIV/AIDS, young people and civil society actors in addressing the problem of HIV/AIDS in all its aspects and recognizing that their full involvement and participation in design, planning, implementation and evaluation of programs is crucial to the development of effective responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic;
  4. Further acknowledging the efforts of international humanitarian organizations combating the epidemic, including among others the volunteers of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the most affected areas all over the world;
  5. Commending the leadership role on HIV/AIDS policy and coordination in the United Nations system of the UNAIDS Program Coordinating Board; noting its endorsement in December 2000 of the Global Strategy Framework for HIV/AIDS, which could assist, as appropriate, Member Sates and relevant civil society actors in the development of HIV/AIDS strategies, taking into account the particular context of the epidemic in different parts of the world;
  6. Solemnly declare our commitment to address the HIV/AIDS crisis by taking action as follows, taking into account the diverse situations and circumstances in different regions and countries throughout the world;
  7. Leadership

    Strong leadership at all levels of society is essential for an effective response to the epidemic. Leadership by Governments in combating HIV/AIDS is essential and their efforts should be complemented by the full and active participation of civil society, the business community and the private sector. Leadership involves personal commitment and concrete actions.
    At the national level

  8. By 2003, ensure the development and implementation of multisectoral national strategies and financing plans for combating HIV/AIDS that: address the epidemic in forthright terms; confront stigma, silence and denial; address gender and age-based dimensions of the epidemic; eliminate discrimination and marginalization; involve partnerships with civil society and the business sector and the full participation of people living with HIV/AIDS, those in vulnerable groups and people mostly at risk, particularly women and young people; are resourced to the extent possible from national budgets without excluding other sources, inter alias international cooperation; fully promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; integrate a gender perspective; and address risk, vulnerability, prevention, care, treatment and support and reduction of the impact of the epidemic; and strengthen health, education and legal system capacity;
  9. By 2003, integrate HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support and impact mitigation priorities into the mainstream of development planning, including in poverty eradication strategies, national budget allocations and sectoral development plans;

    At the regional and subregional level
  10. Urge and support regional organizations and partners to: be actively involved in addressing the crisis; intensify regional, subregional and interregional cooperation and coordination; and develop regional strategies and responses in support of expanded country level efforts;
  11. Support all regional and subregional initiatives on HIV/AIDS including: the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa (IPPA) and the ECA-African Development Forum Consensus and Plan of Action: Leadership to Overcome HIV/AIDS; the Abuja Declaration and Framework for Action for the Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Disease; the CARICOM Pan-Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS; the ESCAP Regional Call for Action to Fight HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific; the Baltic Sea Initiative and Action Plan; the Horizontal Technical Cooperation Group on HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean; the European Union Program for Action; Accelerated Action on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis in the context of poverty reduction

To be continued...

Top Two Articles Accessed in April 2007:

  1. Elder Abuse;
    WHEC Publication. Special thanks to American Bar Association, Commission on Legal Problems for the Elderly, for its contribution.
  2. Breastfeeding Guidelines for Healthcare Providers;
    WHEC Publication. Special thanks to WHO and UNICEF for the contributions.

News, Invitations and Letters:



The Year in Review 2006, published by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS), gives a snapshot picture of civil society engagement in the policy and normative work of the UN and reviews the various consultations, forums, policy dialogues, hearings, CSO advisory committees that have taken place throughout the year 2006. It is hoped that readers will find this new NGLS publication - supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation - to be a useful and concise overview of the UN system's engagement with the non-governmental community in 2006. The Year in Review 2006 is available in English as a pdf document at: http://www.un-ngls.org/site/IMG/pdf/YiR2006.pdf (Requires Adobe Reader)

The Trusteeship Council was established by the UN Charter in 1945 to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories placed under the administration of 7 Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government or independence. The Charter authorized the Trusteeship Council to examine and discuss reports from the Administering Authority on the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the peoples of Trust Territories; to examine petitions from the Territories; and to undertake special missions to the Territories. By 1994, all Trust Territories had attained self-government or independence, either as separate States or by joining neighboring independent countries. The last to do was the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (Palau), which became the 185th Member State. Its work completed, the Trusteeship Council -- consisting of the five permanent members of the Security Council, China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States -- has amended its rules of procedure to meet as and where occasion may require.

Teaching women to care for themselves in Afghanistan: Afghan women have one of the world's highest maternal mortality rates. They face many obstacles when it comes to accessing health care: most are rural and do not live close to or cannot access medical facilities, if the need arises. The few existing facilities do not necessarily specialize in obstetric and gynecological care and cannot always offer quality care. Many Afghan families do not recognize signs of complication during pregnancy and delivery, and may not seek medical attention soon enough to save the lives of mothers and babies. Also ongoing insecurity and cultural norms in the country often keep women from leaving the house to seek urgently needed medical care. Because of cultural pressures, families are reluctant to present women to male doctors, and few female doctors are trained to meet the overwhelming medical needs of women; these conditions constitute a death sentence for thousands of women each year.
Details: http://www.un.org:80/Pubs/chronicle/2005/issue4/0405p46.html

Special Thanks:

WHEC thanks Sol Oca, Information Officer, United Nations Department of Public Information (UN-DPI), for her continuing support to our projects. Thanks for the friendship.

Beyond the numbers...

Some use computers to enhance creative thinking skills; while others use thinking skills to improve computer creativity.

Women's Health & Education Center
Dedicated to Women's and Children's Well-being and Health Care Worldwide