When it comes to making sure American women receive the medical treatment they need and deserve, are we doing a good job?
Is research doing enough to create drugs and devices that are safe and effective for women? Is the state of Women’s Health in America where it should be?
Sadly, the answer is no.
On Wednesday I attended the Wisconsin Women’s Health Policy Summit hosted by the Wisconsin Women’s Health Alliance. The room was filled with accomplished women (and a few men) who are passionate about making sure women get the medical services they need to be productive and well.
During the day-long conference, we celebrated some successes, but most of the day was spent discussing the real challenges women face in access to health care and parody in treatment.
Here are some examples:
- Success: We can celebrate 15 years of gender inclusive medical research. That’s right, it has only been since 1995 that medical research had to include female test subjects.
- Challenge: While female subjects must be included, the gender and race-specific information about new drugs or medical devices is often not made available
Early Screening and Wellness Programs:
- Success: Through the CDC Wise Woman Program and the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program low-income, uninsured, and underserved women have access to screenings and diagnostic services.
- Challenge: All women (regardless of income level or insurance status) receive medical services focused on individual body parts rather than the whole woman. This is not cost-effective nor useful when seeking wellness rather than treating disease. Most women make one visit to a doctor each year, for a pelvic exam. Evaluating cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and family history at the same time would go a long way to reducing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and many other diseases.
- Success: Insurance companies are now mandated to cover mammograms and pregnancy services.
- Challenges: Changes in women’s health policy are made in the legislature. Women are grossly underrepresented in all of our states and in or national government. Women’s health do not receive the attention they deserve and are often the first issues discarded in negotiations.
Yes, we’ve come a long way … but there is still a long way to go.
What should you do?
Elections are coming up in November. It is important for you to get involved. Ask your candidates for Governor (who appoints the secretary of health for your state), state legislature, and U.S. Congress about their women’s health policy.
Ask some tough questions:
- Do you support programs through the CDC to screen under-served women?
- Are you committed to funding NIH research?
- Do you recognize the importance of prenatal care and family planning services?
- Do you support legislation like HEART for Women Act which which mandates gender and race-specific research information be made available?
- Are you committed to keeping candy flavored tobacco products off the market and out of the hands of young women (the target market)?
If they don’t have a Women’s Health Policy… help them find one!
… oh, you could also run for office and bring your passion for women’s health to the table!
To stay on top of issues regarding women’s cardiovascular health join You’re The Cure.
What are you doing to drive Women’s Health issues forward?
Eliz Greene survived a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggled to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and searched for a way to hold on to the perspective and passion she found in her near-death experience. Drawing on her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.
As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 50 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com.