Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gender and Health

Today I attended a consultation for the National Women's Health Policy. This forum, held in Canberra, is the first of fifteen that will be held around Australia. There were around sixty participants and we worked in table groups to identify priority areas and also detail how we would go about making that happen.

The Commonwealth Government is developing a National Women’s Health Policy which will focus on encouraging specific health services for women and actively promoting participation of women in health decision making and management. I will post more about this in the coming week.

The National Men's Health Policy is currently in development and will focus on reducing the barriers men experience in accessing health services, tackling widespread reticence amongst men to seek treatment, improving male-friendly health services, and raising awareness of preventable health problems that affect men.

In February David Lovegrove, a member of the HCCA Executive Committee, attended a consultative forum at the Hellenic Club. This was one of 18 fora held in states and territories. The consultations have been written up by I have not been able to locate these online. I understand that the national men's Health policy will be finalised later this year.

This drew my mind to the broader the role of gender in our health. Gender is a key determinant of health and the ACT and Commonwealth governments are developing policies that recognise the specific needs of men and women so that programs and services will improve health outcomes.

In 2002 the World Health Organization (WHO) held a seminar on mainstreaming gender equity in health. This is now referred to as the Madrid Statement, (Pdf 208kb). It says:
"To achieve the highest standard of health, health policies have to recognize that women and men, owing to their biological differences and their gender roles, have different needs, obstacles and opportunities."

Gender mainstreaming is the process of consistently incorporating a sensitivity of gender differences in policy, planning, budgeting, and implementation of programmes and projects in order to overcome inequalities between men and women, boys and girls.

The Public Health Association of Australia has a policy on this. Their recommendations and resolutions are important to note in the context of the national health reform on men and women's health.

No comments: