|Discussing the future of women’s health at the recent ORWH panel were (from l) Dr. Celia J. Maxwell, Dr. Susan F. Wood and Dr. Kay Dickersin.
Three leaders in women’s health recently issued a call to action to health care providers, researchers and women everywhere to take charge of women’s health. The panel presentation and discussion, “The Intersection of Research, Policy, and Health Care for the Future of Women’s Health” were part of NIH’s observance of National Women’s Health Week at NIH.
Dr. Kay Dickersin, director of the Center for Clinical Trials and director of the U.S. Cochrane Collaboration at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, discussed a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that analyzed the number of women editors of epidemiology journals. Results showed that the proportion of women journal editors was far below women’s representation in senior positions in epidemiology. She explained, “About half of epidemiology faculty members, authors, reviewers and first authors were women, so [the low numbers of women editors] was probably not due to the fact that we were not high enough on the ‘totem pole’ to be editors.”
Dr. Celia Maxwell, assistant vice president for health affairs and director of the Women’s Health Institute at Howard University, noted that as HIV/AIDS has become “more brown,” less attention has been paid to the disease. She said that in 2006, new HIV infections for African-American women rose 27 percent, or 15,000 new infections in that year.
Nonetheless, Maxwell said that health care providers have become more experienced in treating HIV/AIDS in the African-American and female populations, clinical trials now include more women of color and child care and transportation issues are being addressed.
Dr. Susan F. Wood, director of the Jacobs Institute for Women’s Health at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, enumerated some of the challenges for the health care system in providing comprehensive coverage that focuses on the full range of women’s health needs.
“Women have different health care needs than men,” she said. She explained that women use the health care system more than men, due in part to women’s reproductive health needs.
The panel presentations and discussion that followed ended on positive notes by recommending ways to address barriers such as reintroducing “the old girls’ club” to create more time for in-depth discussions and increasing the availability of mentoring, leadership training and succession planning.—Dorie Hightower