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  • Writer's pictureBianca Barratt

There’s no room for politics in women’s health

I was recently invited to listen to a discussion held by the Ginsburg Women’s Health Board - an independent advisory board established to highlight and close the huge gender gaps that still exist in healthcare for women.

The live event, which was held on the terrace of Allbright’s Mayfair club, saw two of the co-founders - actor and founder of The Happy Vagina Mika Simmons and fertility pioneer and Vice-Chair of the British Red Cross Prof. Dr Geeta Nargund - joined by actor Amanda Abbington, menstrual health expert and author Maisie Hill and Health Minister Nadine Dorries MP to discuss both their expertise and personal experiences of the UK’s gender health gap, ultimately posing the question: what might be needed to close it once and for all?

As Nadine Dorries said, “there is no room for politics in women’s health”, and the need to tackle the issues affecting all women. Still, particularly those from marginalised backgrounds goes beyond personal beliefs. Particularly as research suggests that women, on average, spend less of their life in good health than men and are more likely to have their pain recorded as ‘emotional’ rather than physical on medical records.

Given that the health service was designed by men for men, the panel observed, it’s little wonder that research, funding development and treatment of women’s health issues have never been a priority.

As a result, the data available on women’s health experiences is extremely narrow and therefore unreliable. As Prof. Dr Geeta Nargund said, it is usually taken from too small and un-diverse a group of women to be of any use.

This is why Nadine Dorries MP, alongside the government, has launched a 12-week call for evidence to better understand women’s experiences of the health and care system - an initiative that will form the basis of the new Women’s Health Strategy that will then go on to influence policy in a way that women will benefit from.

Nadine Dorries MP said, “We want to use this data to create changes not just in the healthcare system but across all departments that have an impact on women’s health, including education, workplace and pensions. We want to make women’s health a priority.”

As race, discrimination, socio-economic and biological backgrounds can all play an important role in health, the Board is encouraging as many people as possible - particularly those from marginalised backgrounds - to share their own experiences in the survey, thus supplying important data that will be vital to closing the gender health gap in the long run.

As JFPR works at the forefront of consumer health communications, we are proud to take part in this historic research and encourage you and your networks to do the same.

As Amanda Abbington said, “it’s time for women to be taken seriously.”

You can find more information about how to get involved with the Women’s Health survey here.

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