By World Bank
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Extra info for A new agenda for women's health and nutrition
Measures that address women's health problems are among the most cost-effective investments available in developing countries. Page 2 Differentials in Health Fertility and infant and child mortality rates have dropped substantially in developing countries over the past three decades. From 1962 to 1992, infant mortality in the developing world decreased by 50 percent, and fertility rates fell by 40 percent (UN 1993). Fertility regulation has contributed to women's health by reducing the number of pregnanciesand the associated risksand giving women more control over their lives.
Adolescents often experiment with harmful substances, including tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Diseases associated with lifestyle and behavior have been less of a problem for women than for men, but this is changing in some countries. Cigarette advertising is now targeting women and young people, and smoking is spreading most rapidly among young women. Early initiation of such behaviors sets a pattern for lifelong use and increases morbidity and mortality, including risks specific to women's reproductive functions.
They collect water and fuel (Tanzanian women, for example, use up to 20 percent of their caloric intake collecting water), they cook and feed the family, and they perform other tasks essential to household maintenance. These familial responsibilities carry high opportunity costs, as reflected in absenteeism from the work force associated with pregnancy or the care of sick children, for example. Evidence suggests that efforts to improve the health and nutritional status of women could be critical to the goal of poverty reduction.