WHAMglobal Board Discusses Women's Health Lessons from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Norway, and Finland
The WHAMglobal Board convened on June 21 for a presentation on women's health equity at the international level. During the meeting, Jewish Healthcare Foundation President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein, PhD and JHF COO and Chief Program Officer Nancy Zionts provided a high-level overview of takeaways from the recent JHF study tour to Norway and Finland and the Commonwealth Fund tour to Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
In March, WHAMglobal made the unanimous decision to shift its focus to Women's Health Inequity in Older Age, including the stereotypes and biases women face, lack of research into women's health, and the impact this blind spot in health systems has on women as they age.
The recent study tours shed light on how disparities are accounted for, viewed, and addressed at a systems level in the five countries visited.
Of the study tours, Dr. Feinstein noted the most creative solutions cut across disciplines, are broad-based, involving housing, mental health, social connectedness, medical care, nutrition, exercise, and other areas of wellness and care. They also involve technological innovations.
An important takeaway from the study tours was also that parity does not directly equate to having access to the same care as menstruation, fertility, childbirth, and menopause have a profound effect on diagnosis and treatment.
Additionally, Australia's 45 and Up Study, Singapore's response to its rapidly aging population with age-friendly living environments which allow seniors to age in place, and Norway's establishment of a Women's Health Commission to study why gender and sex matter were steppingstones for discussion on the future work of WHAMglobal.
Focuses from the trips which WHAMglobal looks to carry forward in its work are:
- The importance of raising the prestige of women's health by introducing financial incentives to prioritize women's health, increasing funding for research in women's health, the inclusion of sex and gender in medical research, and the importance of establishing a national committee for women's health;
- Ensuring coordination that allocates resources to ensure a systemic approach to women's health policy and improved cooperation between services as a prerequisite for equal health services;
- Improving channels of knowledge transfer by establishing systems for safeguarding sex and gender perspectives in decision-making within the healthcare sector, incorporating sex and gender in common curriculum for health and social care education, and incorporating sex and gender in public health information;
- Listening to women and integrating their experiences into decision-making processes in the area of health and creating systems where women are seen, heard, and taken seriously with their health and health care services.
The themes and priorities will continue to be jointly identified by JHF and WHAMglobal staff and the Board with discussion focusing on next steps, including identifying additional priorities and experts in the field who are not currently engaged by the Board.