San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Women’s Health Issues Continue to Challenge C.R.

While Costa Rica may be making strides in the health and welfare of its citizens, there remain some areas in which the country is dragging its feet or even losing ground.

Namely, the mortality rate among pregnant women has increased during the last decade and the number of HIV cases has doubled in the same time frame.

“These are significant numbers,” said Hilda Picado, executive director of the Costa Rican Demographic Association, offering a series of recommendations designed to reverse the trends.

According to Picado, 18 out of 100,000 women died in 1995 during childbirth, whereas 30 in every 100,000 die today.

Picado said cardiac problems were associated with 24 percent of those deaths. Also,  today some 2,300 women have been diagnosedwith HIV, compared to 1,400 in 2003.

Picado also said Costa Rica has seen a slight decrease in the number of teen pregnancies, from 93 per 1,000 in 1995 to 71 per 1,000 in 2008, but she added that this also is  an area where Costa Rica needs to improve.

Picado presented the statistics at the 15th anniversary of the Cairo Action Program, an agreement signed in 1994 by 179 countries in efforts to improve and develop the health and education of people around the world, with a special focus on women and children.

Costa Rica adoped five of the 15 proposals presented at the original conference. Warren Ortega, representing the Planning Ministry, said those five items include the improvement of statistics gathering, equality of the population in general, protection of the rights of women and children in relation to violence, implementation of measures to stem the spread of HIVAIDS and the creation of jobs in underdeveloped areas of the country.

Among the country’s accomplishments, the ministry lists increased population surveys – including those with a special focus on gender issues – the implementation of a law to prevent violence against women, and the introduction of a National Employment Program which benefited 3,300 Costa Ricans in 2008.

–Chrissie Long


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