Today is International Women’s Health Day.
Women’s health is terribly underfunded despite the fact we make up 50% of the population and in most cultures, women are the foundation of healthy families. A woman’s health affects her family and community. This is an issue that effects all people. We need to do better!
- In Canada, less than 4 % of medical research dollars go toward women’s health.
- Globally, half of all pregnancies are unplanned. While people may embrace these pregnancies, it’s a hardship for most. It can be a risk to their mental and/or physical health. For many, unplanned pregnancies are a fast-track to life-long poverty. Why so many unplanned pregnancies? This is a complex issue but most commonly they’re due to lack of availability of – and limited or no options in birth-control.
- Globally, 800 women die daily (one every 2 minutes) from preventable pregnancy and birth complications. In many parts of the world this number is decreasing, however in North America maternal death is on the rise. Maternal deaths are most commonly due to postpartum hemorrhage, perinatal and postpartum infection, unsafe abortions, complications in birth (often due to mismanagement of labour), and preeclampsia. Generally, these are preventable and treatable issues. Women of colour are almost 3x as likely to die in childbirth compared to white women.
- In almost all geographic areas, rates of postpartum mental illness far outweighs available treatment options. Women have no options or are told to wait 1-3 months for an appointment.
- 1 in 10 women globally suffer from endometriosis, yet the first Canadian study into this condition began in 2019. Ten percent of women (190 million!) suffer from endometriosis. They are mostly dismissed and left without treatment options that exist, or they live in an area where there are no treatments options available.
- In many places, women with fistulas after birth are shunned from their communities and left to fend for themselves. Many do not survive.
- The stats on women’s heart health / cardiovascular illness is appalling. We’ve known for decades that heart-attacks in women present differently than men. However far too many are still misdiagnosed or not taken seriously. After a heart attack, women’s survival rates are considerably lower, especially if they are married and/or have children. (Married men who have heart-attacks often go home to be cared for during recovery. Married women who have heart attacks often go home and resume their role as primary caretaker of family and home.)
- Women’s symptoms are more likely to be dismissed and their voices not taken as seriously during medical appointments and in the emergency room. They are less likely to be referred to specialists, and receive fewer diagnostic tests and prescription medications. This issue is amplified for BIPOC women and plus sized women.
- Menopause negatively affects over 80% of women globally, yet there are very few medical treatment options. Research is vastly underfunded for an event that affects almost 50% of Earth’s population.
There are so many other examples of frightening outcomes, disparity and lack of resources for women’s health; too many to list here. We can do better.