#Allin4health #health4all #Minding your wellbeing #Diabetes awareness
By Dr T.W Ngwenya Changamire
It is women’s month after all and as we celebrate the role women have played to improve our lives; we would also like to take this opportunity to promote women’s health in this special month.
When we speak of women’s health we address issues related to reproductive health, sexual health, malnutrition, and non-communicable diseases.
Non-communicable diseases are diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disorders, stroke, and cancer. Women are still facing barriers to accessing health.
These barriers are based on geographical location, political environment, religious background, cultural and social norms.
Women’s health is a priority because a healthy woman is a woman who is able to ensure that her family is provided for and her children are likely to grow and contribute positively in the community.
A healthy woman is the cornerstone of a healthy nation. All women must be empowered to take care of their health and quality and affordable services must be available and easily accessible.
This can be achieved by combined and synergistic efforts between the government, civil society organisations and private sector co-operate.
Raising awareness on topics related to women’s health is one of the ways we can empower women to take care of their health.
Good sexual and reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system.
This entails access to safe affordable and effective contraceptive choices, the right to informed consent of sexual practices, the right to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections and treatment if required and the right to choose when they want to have children.
It also includes access to safe, antenatal services, delivery and postnatal services.
Common sexually transmitted infections (STIs)include syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Human papilloma virus (HPV).
Untreated syphilis can lead to disease in different parts of the body, while untreated gonorrhoea and chlamydia may cause chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancies or infertility long-term. HPV infection increases one’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
Untreated STIs increase the risk of contracting HIV. This is why STI screening is important.
STIs are treatable. Symptoms of sexually transmitted infections include ulcers or sores around the genital areas, vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, pain during intercourse and frequent and burning pain during urination.
Non-communicable diseases are slowly beginning to be the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Africa with women being largely affected. Most of these conditions are a result of poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Some conditions may be prevented by educating women on preventive measures that can be taken. Screening is also important for earlier detection of conditions and prevention of complications that may arise from the disease.
Obesity is a condition where one has excessive fat accumulation. The South African demographic health survey in 2016 found that more women are overweight and obese.
Almost 70% of women in total are overweight and obese. This is the highest rate in Africa. 39.2% of women are obese compared to 10.2% of men while 24.8% of women are overweight compared to 20.1% of men.
Obesity does not only bring cosmetic concerns. Obesity increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart diseases, strokes and other conditions like diabetes and certain cancers.
Obesity also increases your chances of infertility, osteoarthritis, and severe covid-19 related symptoms.
Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of obesity. It takes into account the height and weight of the individual. A person is classified as overweight if their BMI is greater the 30.
A person may develop obesity due to lifestyle choices, poor dietary choices, inactivity but genetics are also a determinant of obesity.
It is important to mention that obesity is reversible and as a person beings to lose excess weight they also decrease their risk of developing high blood pressure, heart diseases, strokes, diabetes and cancers.
All women are encouraged to know their blood pressure. Blood pressure may have detrimental effects if it is left untreated. It increases the risk of developing heart attacks, kidney disease and strokes. Women need to screen for blood pressure, especially at older ages and if there is family history of blood pressure. Women who are also at a higher risk of developing blood pressure are women who are obese.
Diabetes has become a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Africa. It is estimated that 15.9 million people are living with Diabetes in Africa. Africa also has the greatest proportion of undiagnosed Diabetics; it is estimated that 60% of adults living with Diabetes do not know that they are Diabetic. (IDF,2019).
The prevalence of Diabetes is rapidly increasing owing to urbanisation, unhealthy lifestyle choices, inactivity which all lead to Obesity! Women who are either overweight, obese or have had diabetes in previous pregnancies are at higher risk of being diabetic and are encouraged to check their blood sugar periodically and talk to health practitioner about lifestyle modification.
Lipid profile check
Lipid profile includes cholesterol check, LDL or bad fats and HDL or good fats check. For individuals who are overweight and diabetic, lipid profile has to be routinely checked. High levels of cholesterol and bad fats with a low level of good fats is unhealthy lipid profile status. This lipid profile tied with diabetes and high blood pressure increase your likelihood of development of heart disease and stroke.
The World Health Organisation states that breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women.
It is important to note that early detection of breast cancer may save lives. It is important for women to conduct self-breast examinations, and to also go in for clinical breast examination by a health professional.
Breast ultrasound scan and mammography maybe a requirement depending on the findings of the clinical breast exam or the risk factors to development of breast cancer.
Risk factors of breast cancer include being female (breast cancer can affect men), family history of disease, advanced age, early start of menstruation, smoking, overweight, alcohol consumption and exposure to contraceptive medication.
The age to begin breast cancer screening may vary depending on risk factors.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) is one of the most causes of sexually transmitted infection. This is the virus that is responsible for development of cervical cancer. In women who are HIV positive the risk of developing cervical cancer is higher so screening has to start earlier and need to screened more frequently.
Screening is done by Pap smears and HPV testing.
Get screened, know your health status and health risk and remember healthy women, healthy nations.
By Dr TW Ngwenya Changamire
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Contact All In 4 Health for General Medical Consultation, health screening, medical check-up, health education and promotion. The Glen Marais Shopping Centre, 57 Veld Street, Glen Marais, Kempton park 1619
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