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Womens Health and Tropical Diseases A focus on AfricaOver one-quarter of the worlds population are at risk from parasitic infections and the majority of these infections are confined to the worlds poverty belt of the tropics and sub-tropics -- largely in Sub-Saharan Africa Women constitute nearly 67per cent of the total population of Africa and to achieve better global health condition a focus on African women is thus necessary Low income levels are associated with debilitating disease patterns Thirty-eight of the worlds 63 low-income countries are in Africa Of its 500 million people 40 per cent have less than US1 a day to live on 68 per cent have no proper sanitation and 52 per cent no access to safe water Lancet 1997 In a recent WHO report analysis of the poverty data UNDP 1994 illustrates the role of poverty in co-determining the health status of the populations WHOTFHETBN97 The report referred to above concludes that levels of both total and rural absolute poverty are substantially higher in the ten low performers countries with highest negative deviation from estimated life expectancy compared to ten high performers countries with the highest positive deviation from estimated life expectancy Interestingly nine out of ten are in Africa Of all geographic regions Africa has the highest tropical diseases morbidity and mortality ratios Sai and Nassim 1991Efficient services and special effort by health providers is needed to enhance the health status of populations in this region Planning for health services improving the efficiency and engendering services in any country depends primarily on information about the main causes of ill-health and death in defined areas Data on cause-specific mortality and morbidity in particular data disaggregated by gender and sex crucial for effective planning are scanty for most countries in sub-Saharan Africa Heggengougen 1996 Gaining solid and longitudinal understanding across the life span based on reliable consistent and quality data has been re-echoed as perhaps the first action for tackling major causes
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