Genesa Greening Finding Equality For Women’s Health

Genesa Greening Finding Equality For Women’s Health


Health What a blessing when you have it a challenge when you don’t the health of our community the central place and decision-making but a one-size-fits-all thinking overlooks Some important differences and sometimes health systems. Don’t know what they don’t know as the head of the BC Women’s Hospital Foundation our next guest reminds us that understanding differences Needs to be part of making a healthy society, please welcome Genesa Greening We as women we have a complex relationship with our health when I was nine years old my Mother was 29 at the time and she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and heavily medicated My memory of visiting her still etched in my mind sitting on her bed in her hospital gown looking forlorn and barely present Aching to be with both me and my sisters and her husband The Canadian Institutes for health research tells us that women suffer the greatest burdens of disease and disability They’re more likely to suffer depression stress. Overload chronic conditions injuries and death resulting from family violence Although women live longer than men women have a greater lifetime risk of functional disability chronic illness including cancer cardiovascular disease dementia and a need for long-term care and Yet we as women are often the principal caregivers to our children or spouses the elderly and disabled relatives on average a woman cares for her spouse for five years at the end of her husband’s life and then goes on to live an average of eight years without the same type of intensive personal care Safe to say women give more than they get when it comes to their health When my mother came home from the hospital a few weeks later, she began to disappear from our day-to-day lives Spending more and more time in bed eventually hours turned into days and days turned into weeks She would spend on average 20 plus hours a day sleeping At one point. She didn’t leave our house for a seven-month stretch 70% of patients with medically unexplained symptoms are women. These are often used anonymously with terms that imply psychogenic cause However, patients labeled with medically unexplained symptoms actually have yet to be diagnosed diseases like an autoimmune disease that can mean lasting disability and even death 70% of the people impacted by chronic pain are also women, but are typically treated less aggressively than men studies have found that doctors are more likely to diagnose a woman’s pain as Psychological they’re inclined to give them sedatives antidepressants and refer them to a psychiatrist While men could present what the same symptoms are more likely to be given pain medication and referred to a pain clinic Women get prescribed less pain medication than men after identical procedures As a matter of fact a study recently came out that showed that this bias actually starts in childhood When a boy has open heart surgery, he’ll be prescribed pain medication when a girl has open heart surgery. She’ll be prescribed tylenol The prevalence of mental health issues during the various stages of Accessories life stages experienced by a woman adds to this complexity of care and treatment Yet most mental health research and therapy is based on a man’s experience Women experience depression twice as often as men and yet are three times more likely than men to experience barriers in accessing mental health care My mother was told she was tired because she had three small children that she should find ways to reduce her level of stress They gave her more medication. No one suggested her symptoms were serious or real and no one sent her for tests One in 10 women have been diagnosed with endometriosis It takes on average up to 10 years to get that diagnosis and many actually don’t it’s debilitating It impacts a woman’s ability to work to participate to even have children The number of women who have endometriosis equals the total number of people who have liver disease Men are actually twice as likely to have liver disease We have 30,000 pages of published research on liver disease in 1800 on endometriosis 2 out of 3 women and BC reported feeling bias from a health care practitioner due to their gender There are many entrenched and systemic reasons women are not receiving equitable access to quality health care the suggestion were more fragile We are more prone to stress and anxiety never experience hormonal stasis Carry, greater societal burdens more likely to experience violence live in poverty and leave single-parent households Prior to 1998 women were not included in most research trust studies in Canada and to this day were still largely excluded Yet women experienced 50 to 75 percent of drug reactions adverse drug reactions Yet medications prescribed to women have often only been tested on men including aspirin and warfarin Even within the field of health research. We see a pervasiveness of bias that continues to impact the health outcomes of women Male researchers get funded more often with higher grants and are far less likely to research women’s health issues Female researchers are less likely to get sustainable funding The studies are often not completed or don’t make it to knowledge translation and implementation into policy and practice studies that should include equal representation Representation of gender don’t and many final analysis do not have gender and sex analysis applied So we still don’t even know if the women within the trial reacted differently than the men My mother eventually gave up on going to the doctor for anything more than prescription refills and checkups She found ways to cope she came at each day with a hope She might be able to work for a few hours. Maybe make dinner Perhaps attend one of our school events never all in one day or one week But she could she did what she could when she could yet the months turned into years We could simply say that one of the primary reasons We as women experienced bias in the healthcare system and in the healthcare that we received is And why are we often sicker for longer? And why do we don’t get substantial answers as to what is happening with our bodies is actually quite simple We don’t know what we don’t know Without the research doctors are not equipped without the research The unique health care needs of women is not validated Without the research women are unable to live a life to the fullest participate in our economy and in our communities be present for the people they love continue to be feel missing and they’ll continue to feel misunderstood and Dismissed and are suffering and dying unnecessarily We have a responsibility to change the tide on women’s health to make the investment in the research to insist that women are included understood believed treated validated and healed My mother eventually found herself with a new doctor. She described her situation. He sent her for bloodwork my mother had thyroid disease an autoimmune disease predominantly found in women For years, she had that condition It causes exhaustion fatigue weight gain among many other symptoms and left untreated It causes mental decline heart disease and decreased lung function Few years later after I moved away from home and started my career. She received another diagnosis of ME chronic fatigue syndrome ME is a chronic complex disease like fibromyalgia and chronic Lyme disease and 3% of our population have one of these conditions or 1.1 million Canadians 79 percent of which are women and Yet the Canadian Institutes for health research has only funded four grants across all three conditions in 19 years Gender plays a role in how healthy our society is It plays a role in what kind of health care you received? It played a role in my mother being present from my life Being absent story from my life and the lives of my sister and father for over a decade When I took on this role, I didn’t realize that my own story would show up in the stories I would hear I didn’t realize that what had happened to me and my family is happening every day And I didn’t realize it was because my mother was a woman that she suffered inside her own body and mind starting at the age of 29 I Now know it’s preventable preventable. You can’t unlearn something. So let’s make the investment in learning as much as we can about Why women’s bodies are different We make up half of the world’s population We are held back as women for so many other reasons. However, this one is curable

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