Thursday, May 25, 2006

Diseases of Poor Women

A commentary in Tuesday's New York Times raises the issue of whether poor women will have access to the forthcoming cervical cancer vaccines, stating:

"In the United States, cervical cancer has slipped to eighth in the rankings of the incidence of cancers among women, but in the developing world, it ranks second. A study by public health investigators in Mexico reported that an average of 12 women died of cervical cancer there each day.

Increasingly, cervical cancer will become a disease of poor women who have limited or no access to basic health care, much less vaccines expected to cost $300 to $500 for a series of three shots."

While unfortunate, poverty is not a new barrier to effective and proper healthcare for women (or men, or children). A PubMed search reveals numerous issues of poverty and women's health, such as access to care, cancer screening, food insecurity, contraceptives, substance abuse, and violence. In less developed nations, the problems of access are even more severe.

So, assume there is a vaccine that prevents cancer (which there will be shortly). Will it only be available in developed countries? Will any groups step forward to deliver it to impoverished regions worldwide, such as has been done with other vaccines? What are the ethical responsibilities related to this development?

Related Links:
  • Women's Health 2005 - Population Characteristics - U.S. women in poverty data
  • Women's Health Fuelling Poverty - BBC News, 10/12/2005
  • Health, United States, 2005
  • Projects: Poverty Reduction - International Center for Research on Women
  • Health Care: Low Income - Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • WHO: Poverty - World Health Organization

    Previous Vaccine-Related Posts:
    FDA Committee Recommends Approval of HPV Vaccine
    HPV Vaccine Moves Closer to Approval
    Status of HPV Vaccine and Cervical Cancer Prevention

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Papillomavirus, Human/immunology; Poverty; Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/prevention and control; Vaccination

    Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

    Wasn't that a most upsetting article in the NYT? Our healthcare system is terrible.

    7:40 PM  

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