My name is Joy Yala and I was born in Kenya. I am currently an undergraduate student at Kent State University in the College of Public Health. Currently, I am doing my practicum in the Summa Center for Women’s Health Research to gain experience in conducting meaningful research to improve the quality of lives of women. With this blog, I wanted to provide some perspective on women and healthcare having lived in both Africa and America.
In Kenya, women are a valuable asset to their communities as well as their family. I grew up in a family full of strong women who not only juggled their careers but also motherhood. Despite the obvious importance of women within the African society, the health of a woman is not given a lot of thought. Lack of education and is a problem plaguing women within Africa, consequently it is one of the millennium developmental goals to achieve universal primary education. Women in rural Kenya are not well beyond the 8th grade. Consequently, the lack of education results in women’s inability to make decisions that will protect their health and also the health of their family and the women die of preventable diseases.
Access to care is a problem in Africa that plagues women in both the rural and urban areas. The distant health facilities in rural areas result in the women walking for hours in order to receive care. Usually upon arrival, they have to wait for another couple of hours before they see a medical professional. Consequently, there are high maternal deaths because the women do not have a skilled birth attendant during child birth.
On the other hand, women in the urban areas face a similar problem as there is a scarce number of medical professionals working in the health field, consequently women usually have to wait for long periods of time before they see a health professional. The divide between the rich and the poor magnifies the women’s health problems that exist within Kenya as the care varies. The poor tend to go to public hospitals that are usually overcrowded and understaffed while the rich go to hospitals that are less crowded.
Lastly the burden of HIV/AIDS is felt more by women in African society. This is evident in the number of children the grandmothers are taking care of because they are orphaned. And, the increase in the number of young girls dropping out of school to take care of younger siblings as they are orphaned and lack a source of income. Women in Kenya and other developing countries are faced with numerous challenges that they work hard every day to try to overcome.
From the beginning of time, being a woman has always been challenging, whether you were from America or Africa. Personally, being a woman in America or Africa is not easy — but I hope to make a difference with the work I am doing now and in the future.Joy Yala Practicum Student Summa Center for Women’s Health Research Summa Health System Akron, Ohio