New provincial women’s health strategy in B.C. to improve health for girls and women

448

Representatives from BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre and the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, along with other special guests, revealed a new collaborative strategy to improve the health of girls and women throughout B.C. in Vancouver on October 25, 2004.

While overall the health of girls and women in B.C. compares with the best in the world and life expectancy is at an all-time high, significant health issues continue to affect the quality of life of many. Women may be more at risk for some diseases, while effective methods of intervention can vary between women and men or between different groups of women. Some significant health issues for women in B.C. include mental health; problematic substance use and addictions; cardiovascular disease; diabetes; HIV/AIDS; lung cancer; breast cancer; and falls.

Advancing the Health of Girls and Women in British Columbia: A Provincial Women’s Health Strategy offers a 10-year, women-centred approach to improving the health of girls and women that builds upon a long legacy of women’s health action in BC. The three initial priority areas identified in the strategy are improving women’s health monitoring and surveillance; maternity care access; and mental health, problematic substance use and addictions. There are currently important opportunities to work on these issues.

Mental health and addictions are often interrelated problems, and it is vital that we treat women facing these challenges in the most effective way possible, which may mean treating them differently than men. Beyond disease and illness, the strategy also looks at methods of addressing access to services, such as maternity care for women in both rural and urban areas of B.C.

“Providing maternity services for women across B.C. is becoming more challenging for a variety of reasons. This strategy raises important questions about ensuring access to care for all girls and women in B.C.,” said Dr. Liz Whynot, President of BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre.

Underlying the development of appropriate care for girls and women is the need for women-centred research and for the collection and dissemination of comprehensive information about girls’ and women’s health. “Researchers, policy makers and practitioners need to be strategic in addressing health conditions or diseases that are more prevalent or serious in women, or for which there are different interventions needed for women compared to men,” explained Dr. Lorraine Greaves, Executive Director of the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health. “We are committed to expanding research, evaluation and training in many of the women’s health issues outlined in this document.”

The Office of Healthy Children, Women and Seniors, Ministry of Health Services, and a task group of representatives from the regional health authorities, and other key women’s health advocates across the province provided input into the Strategy. A new Provincial Women’s Health Network has been established to support the Strategy.

The complete document is available online at www.cw.bc.ca or through the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health by calling 604-875-2633.

BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides service for pregnant women, newborns and women with specialized health needs from across the province. For more information please visit www.cw.bc.ca.

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information please visit www.phsa.ca.

The British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and its activities and products has been made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed in the Provincial Women’s Health Strategy do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.