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    Shining light on women's health

    On Friday we will celebrate International Women’s Day and ahead of this important event I wanted to shine some light on women’s health; the conditions that impact women, access to healthcare and the disparity that exists in healthcare between the genders. On the weekend, I sat down with Weekend Today to discuss the health issues of the week, I raised this important topic and discussed the gender gap that no one is talking about.

    Health Susceptibility

    Many health issues impact women and men differently. Did you know women are 59% more likely to have issues with their blood & metabolic systems, 57% more likely to have problems with their nervous system, 56% more likely to have bone health problems and 94% more likely to have problems with their reproductive system. Additionally, women are more likely to be diagnosed with autoimmune diseases as well as being three times more likely to develop MS than men.

    Last week on reviewing the data for International Women's Day I was surprised by the fact that 56% of women have a chronic condition. Given the top 10 chronic diseases- many of which are preventable - contribute to 89% of deaths in our country - this is a data point that needs to be taken seriously. Ahead of IWD, I’m calling for the health system to more readily support women to focus on prevention and to be able to keep themselves healthy - making positive lifestyle changes and sustaining those changes over time.

    Access to healthcare

    The latest data shows women use healthcare services more readily than men, but they often face challenges getting the right expert care for their needs. For example, more women visited a GP last year, but many reported that their health issues were not taken seriously. Women also pay more for healthcare but are more than twice as likely to skip or delay care, often resulting in delayed diagnosis compared to men, with evidence suggesting between a 4 and 10 year delay.

    Research into women’s health

    It took until the 1990s for women to even be included in many clinical trials for new treatment solutions. Many women suffer from conditions that are not diagnosed or treated properly, in part because of the underrepresentation of female-specific research and lack of awareness. This really does need to change, and we need to see a shift in research that focuses on female health conditions. We’ve come a long way, but more can be done.

    The majority of our healthcare workforce is female, and women make an extraordinary contribution to the quality of healthcare in our country. I have had the privilege of seeing this first hand for decades. This Friday let’s all take a moment to thank the women that work tirelessly to ensure that Australians are among the healthiest people in the world but lets also take a moment to support women to look after their own health as a priority and shine some light on the issues challenging women’s health.

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