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Black Women Endure Menopause Longest

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By Elaina Johnson
Special to the NNPA from Howard University News Service

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Sarah Finney, 57, said she gets hot flashes throughout her body at least once an hour. She even wakes up in the night with so much perspiration that she looks like she just left working out at a gym, she said.

“Hot flashes are very annoying,” said Finney, a married mother of two who declined to use her real name. “A surge of heat goes through my body, sometimes accompanied by nausea. As the energy builds, I begin to sweat from my hair, neck, chest and underarms.”

Finney, a vegetarian, said she hoped eating healthy and her intense daily routines as a marathon runner would alleviate the symptoms, but no luck.

Finney, who lives in Alexandria, Va., is experiencing the results of menopause, a natural decline in reproductive hormones that affects millions of woman annually when they reach their 40s or 50s.

For women going through menopause, just one day of hot flashes can be too much. Imagine 14 years. A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a medical journal of the American Medical Association, found that women could experience hot flashes for up to 14 years, and that African-American women like Finney typically experience the symptoms longer.

Finney has been going through it for 10 years.

The 17-year study of 1,449 women across the U.S. found that while on average, the women endured the symptoms for about seven and a half years, Black and Hispanic women experience hot flashes for significantly longer than White or Asian women. The median was 10 years for African Americans, nearly nine years for Hispanics, six and a half years for White women, about five and a half years for Chinese and nearly five years for Japanese.

“This is the only study that has looked at a very diverse population, ”said Dr. Ranit Mishori, associate professor of Family Medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

“No one knows for sure why African-American women are at risk for a longer duration of hot flashes. There could be a relationship between hormone levels, genetic differences, body mass index, the number of children you have or the age you began having children.”

Though the study’s results may not give the quick relief women hoped for, but it allows doctors and medical professional to give patients realistic expectations and find ways to help alleviate the hot flashes.

“This is not a fun thing for the doctor or the patient to realize,” Mishori said. “However, there are ways to manage the symptoms including hormone replacement therapy.”

Hormone replacement therapy is medication containing female hormones to replace the ones the woman’s body no longer makes after menopause.

This method can be a good choice for certain women, depending on their health risk, Mishori said. Women who consume estrogen pills are alleviated from hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, she said.

The down side is that hormone therapy has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, stroke and heart disease for some women.

Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, may help some women, health officials said, and there are also non-hormonal medication and supplements that can help. These things may not shorten the duration of hot flashes, but it may lessen the affect and intensity of them.

If the symptoms are unbearable, health officials suggest you consult with your doctor.

Finney said she is resigned to the day-to-day struggle with the condition.

“Menopause is just something we have to deal with as women,” she said. “We all must continue to move forward. This is a part of life.”

Report: Blacks Disproportionately Affected by Hunger

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Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

African-Americans continue to suffer disproportionately high rates of hunger and poverty despite the growing economy, according to an analysis released Friday by a Christian-based citizens group working to end hunger.

The Bread for the World report says the shortage of good, stable jobs and the impact of mass incarceration on the community exacerbates the situation.

“As African-Americans, we still suffer from some of the highest rates of hunger and poverty in the country despite the growth of our country’s economy since 2008,” said Eric Mitchell, the organization’s director of government relations. “The lack of jobs that pay fair wages is preventing people of color from moving out of poverty and the recession.”

According to the most recent data, the median income for African-Americans in 2013 was $24,864, significantly lower than the median for all Americans, the analysis found. Poverty affected nearly three out of 10 African-Americans or nearly twice the average rate for the general population. The same rates hold in terms of their ability to feed their families.

Mitchell said the problem is worsened by the effects of mass incarceration.

“Incarceration for non-violent criminal offenses aggravates the situation for black people in America since these laws, time and again, put people of color behind bars at a higher rate than white people for the same offense,” he said.

African-Americans constitute nearly half of the total 2.3 million prison population in the country. Many states deny returning citizens access to such programs as SNAP, even while they look for work. For those who land a job, their yearly earnings are reduced by as much as 40 percent, Bread for the World reports.

“The best way to combat hunger and poverty in the African-American community is through jobs that pay fair wages, strong safety-net programs, and by ensuring laws are in place to protect people and not further marginalize them from society,” Mitchell said.

Reversing Course, US to Aid Nigeria in Boko Haram Fight

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network

(GIN) – After a published plea from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for U.S. combat troops in the fight against Boko Haram, U.S. Africa Command appears ready to sweep aside its hesitation and jump in with both feet.

The previous position held that advanced weapons could not be provided because of troubling allegations of human rights violations by Nigeria’s security forces. There also appeared to be a lack of political will to defeat Boko Haram, a senior U.S. official told the BBC.

Now, however, Africa Command is “ready to assist in whatever way [Nigeria] sees as being practical,” Lt. Gen. Steven A. Hummer, deputy to the commander of military operations, was quoted as saying.

Counterterrorism exercises, under the name “Operation Flintlock,” are currently underway in Chad, with drills in Niger, Cameroon and Tunisia. The war games are intended to help African militaries bolster their counterterrorism skills.

However, the coordinated actions by Niger and Chad have elicited warnings from Boko Haram leaders. They threaten to send suicide bombers if troops are deployed, stating, “If you insist on continuing the aggression and the coalition with the government of Chad, then we give you glad tidings that the land of Niger is easier than the land of Nigeria, and moving the war to the depth of your cities will be the first reaction toward any aggression that occurs after this statement,” according to a transcript provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.

A multinational force to fight Boko Haram is expected to be deployed in coming weeks. Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin initially pledged to help Nigeria. This week, Burundi and Central African Republic also agreed to contribute troops to fight the militant group.

Also this week, leaders in Central Africa said that 10 member states had agreed to contribute most of the $100 million needed to combat Boko Haram. They did not state how much had been raised or how much remains to be raised, despite calling for the creation of an emergency fund to bridge the difference, according to reporters with the Associated Press.

The death toll from a suicide bomber’s attack on a bus station in the northeast city of Damaturu now stands at 13, with 26 injured. The attacker was reported to be a female.

Sierra Leone Promises Probe Into Missing Ebola Funds

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network

(GIN) — A full investigation will be conducted into multiple failures of accountability regarding the use of $5 million in funds sent for the fight against Ebola, the government of Sierra Leone has pledged.

An internal audit found that nearly one-third of the money received to fight Ebola was spent without providing receipts and invoices to justify the spending.

In their report released late last week, the auditors cited “inadequate controls” over the disbursement of funds, hazard payments being made to hospitals with no proof the money was actually going to the health workers on the frontline and, in some cases, a “complete disregard for the law” in procurement.

The $5.75 million in funds without spending documentation represents about a third of the total $19.32 million under review. The money came primarily from institutions and individuals donating from mostly within Sierra Leone and from tax revenue.

These undocumented losses may have slowed the country’s emergency response to the Ebola outbreak and may have led to unnecessary loss of life, the authors of a detailed report on the crisis said.

In an extensive report by The Guardian newspaper, a spot review found that army and police personnel were included on a list of workers to receive hazard money “even though funds had been transferred to both forces to meet the deployment of their officers.”

In the town of Makeni, where workers in one hospital went on strike because they had not received hazard payments, concerns were that some money was diverted to nonexistent ghost workers.

One member of parliament was singled out in the report when it appeared that payments were made to him to carry out sensitization programs, even though an amount had earlier been paid to all seating MPs.

The head of the Health for All Coalition has also been asked to explain himself after checks were made out to him personally instead of to his organization. The Ministry of Health has since disputed the amount of money allocated to the coalition and promised to hand over “all documentary evidence” to the auditors, who said this case was of the “utmost concern.”

In an official press release, the president promised to “ensure full accountability” and warned that anyone found guilty of misusing Ebola funds would face the full force of the law.

The report by Sierra Leone’s auditor general covered the months of May through October 2014, after which the Ebola response was handed over to the Defense Ministry. The auditors looked at donations received directly by the government to fight Ebola.

“It is clear from our audit conducted that there continue to be lapses in the financial management system in Sierra Leone, and these have ultimately resulted in the loss of funds and a reduction in the quality of service delivery in the health sector,” the report stated.

St. Lucia’s at 36 Years Old: A Mature Island-Nation Moves Forward

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Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News

Much has taken place in St. Lucia since February 22, 1979 when the country took control of its own destiny.

And most of it has been positive, fueling an upbeat and can-do spirit.

In the 30-plus years of sovereignty child survival has galloped ahead at break-neck speeds as infant mortality rates fell. St. Lucians are living longer than ever before, on average 74 years, outdistancing the life spans of Russians, Pakistanis and Lebanese; and the country is considered one of the easiest places in the world in which to start a business in the 21st century.

Just as important, confidence in its ability to deal with the myriad of challenges is growing by leaps and bounds, say government officials and commentators. Little wonder, then, that St. Lucians are looking forward to even better days now that the economy is beginning to show signs of stirring from its prolonged recession that was triggered by the global economic recession; management missteps by successive governments in Castries, the capital; and the fact that its English-speaking neighbors, from Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and St. Vincent to Jamaica and Guyana are all suffering from the same things: the terrible impact of tough economic times in which they are living that are characterized by a mountain of debt, gaping fiscal deficits and high unemployment rates

With a return of many of the North American and British tourists to the tourism dependent country, the 36th anniversary of sovereignty is being celebrated with renewed optimism in song, dance, national debates about the future, national sporting competitions, culinary festivals and cultural exhibitions across the 238 square mile country.

“We believe we have weathered the economic and social storm and the independence celebrations are adding to our positive feelings about our country,” said Renee Charles, a St. Lucian who has been living in New York for more than a decade and who monitors every step taken by the government, the opposition United Workers Party and the private sector. “Five years ago when we had just passed 31 years as a sovereign state we were struggling to get our country back to normal after the floods and other environmental disaster. We have seen many improvements as a result of our own efforts and the assistance of foreign countries and international agencies.”

Although beset with a mountain of debt, a wide fiscal gap between what the government collects in revenue and spends on social services and a worrying crime rate fueled by illegal drugs, the Roman Catholic oriented and English and patois-speaking country of 170,000 souls is heralding its achievements since the advent of independence.

Interestingly, even before the celebrations began earlier this month, Dr. Kenny Anthony, the Prime Minister told a gathering of national and foreign dignitaries attending the recent official launching of a historic cultural site site and “urban enhancement project” in St. Lucia that they were “becoming a more mature” nation eager to recognize the contributions of all St. Lucians, regardless of political affiliations.

“We can take a new path in striving for our own identity,” he said.

Lucians in the Diaspora in New York and the rest of the United States told Carib News in recent conversation that the maturity was evident for some time, a years now, and it was reflected in the way people dealt with economic, environmental and social adversity than ranged from the prolonged recession, environmental damage and social challenges, including crime.

They have set out repairing the damage and putting the country back on its feet without waiting on foreign assistance, they said.

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BVN National News Wire