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Emerg Infect Dis. 2004 Nov;10(11):1968-73.

Steps for preventing infectious diseases in women.

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Pan American Health Organization, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, Washington, DC 20037, USA.


Communicable diseases account for approximately 25% of deaths in most Latin American and Caribbean countries; illness from communicable diseases reaches 40% in developing countries. Mainly affected are poor women in rural areas. A medical approach is not sufficient to implement effective infectious disease prevention strategies in women, which would offset these numbers. Health policies must be changed, and social restrictions that circumscribe women need to be eliminated. In the long run, the only solution is to improve women's socioeconomic status. The following three steps are necessary for developing a prevention strategy: 1) a gender perspective must be incorporated into infectious disease analysis and research to target policies and programs. Data collected must be disaggregated by sex, age, socioeconomic status, education, ethnicity, and geographic location; 2) models must be developed and implemented that address gender inequities in infectious diseases in an integrated manner; and 3) outreach activities must be supported, using information, education, and communication strategies and materials for advocacy and training. Active participation of civil society groups is key to translating the strategy into specific interventions.

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