Mind the gap

mixed group women

In this issue we take a look at the latest news and views on women’s health, and what pharmacists can do to help 

Many women are going without access to healthcare and others are facing discrimination, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and women with a disability, new research finds.

This disturbing news is from a 2020 study from not-for-profit group, Jean Hailes. Its Women’s Health Survey found that almost everyone who classified themselves as ‘living comfortably’ (not surprisingly) had access to a healthcare professional when they needed one.

But for women who were ‘just getting by’ around 40% said they had trouble seeing one. It gets worse, as 80% of women who said they are “finding it very difficult” couldn’t see a health professional.

Although these findings paint a dire picture for these women, it does actually present an important opportunity for pharmacists to assist them, especially as many pharmacies have long opening hours with access to the pharmacist. There’s also the opportunity to do much for the so-called ‘sandwich generation’—women who are who are juggling the demands of a career with kids and often ageing parents.

Indeed, as pharmacy continues to expand its scope of practice and offer more services, it can also assist the 50% of women who say they are struggling with their weight and want more information on diet and nutrition; or the third of women who say they have depression and anxiety, or the 40% who admit they often feel lonely; and the estimated 17% of women in chronic pain, who even may be struggling to be believed, supported and are often without the fundamental financial support at a time when they most need it.

Pharmacy really can make a difference by asking women how they are going and getting them to stop and take a moment to think about their own health. Pharmacists can tackle everything from their mental to their physical health and all of the factors that contribute to disease and make them less resilient.

They can also intervene with women who may be unaware aware that they might be heading to problems if they don’t do something. The opportunity is there, and given the research, the opportunity is growing.

There’s also an opportunity to help women with the relatively unknown condition known as bacterial vaginitis (BV) with our CPD-accredited article on the topic. This article will help you differentiate BV from other causes of vaginitis—along with helping you to rule out any complicating factors that may necessitate referral to a GP.

*This article was from our 2020 Women’s Health Supplement. Our 2021 supplement will be out in April.

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