Women’s Health Wins Worth Celebrating in 2021

Women’s health has come under fresh scrutiny in 2021 as moves were made to close the gender health gap in the UK. But what has actually happened to help women?

As specialists in women’s health and improving lives through empowering and accurate content, Thrive agency reflected on a year of progress.

With all the bad health news in 2021 related to new variants of Covid and NHS waiting lists and vacancies reaching record highs, the agency wanted to focus on the positive progress that has been made to help improve the lives of women in the UK. 

These achievements are highlighted in a helpful infographic that any organisation can feature on their website or other media.

But the agency concedes there is still some way to go. The infographic not only lists the progress this year, but the stark facts around existing inequalities.

Sarah Redshaw, Thrive’s Content Director, said: “We wanted to mark all the advancements and achievements made for women over the past year, which are not inconsiderable, including axing the tampon tax, reducing the price of HRT, and introducing progesterone injections for women at risk of miscarrying.

“Having said that, unfortunately it is too early to celebrate. While some progress has been made, and just as importantly discussions opened up, there is still a long way to go in closing the gender health gap.

“Just to take one example, despite advancements in Scotland, the rest of the UK lags behind in diagnosing and treating coronary heart disease in women because it is so often thought of as a man’s disease.   

“Because they don’t receive the same care and treatment as men, the British Heart Foundation estimates that more than 800 women are unnecessarily dying every year.”

Scotland has made headway however in starting to bridge this gap, by launching the first Women’s Health Plan with a focus on improving endometriosis diagnosis, miscarriage support, menopause services and heart disease. It is just one of the achievements highlighted by Thrive’s infographic. Others were:

  • The axing of VAT on sanitary products, aka the ‘tampon tax’, across the UK. In addition, Scotland became the first country in the world to make period products free.
  • Government agreement to slash the price of HRT in England, saving women up to £200 a year.
  • The Wellbeing for Women’s Menopause Workplace Pledge to support employees going through the menopause. Around 900,000 women in the UK have quit their jobs due to the menopause.
  • Making the contraceptive mini pill available over the counter. Although it took 60 years to get there, compared to one year for Viagra.
  • Approval of progesterone treatment for pregnant woman at higher risk of miscarriage.
  • The launch of a dedicated female pharma company Organon to focus on women and give them more choices in managing their health.
  • A study finding that cervical cancer rates are almost 90% lower in women who have been vaccinated against HPV. 

Sarah said: “These are all great achievements but we mustn’t lose sight of how there has been an ingrained focus on men when it comes to health.

“Medicine dosages have often been based on clinical trials on men so women are more likely to have unwanted side effects. Women’s lived experience of painful health conditions and fears around the safety of certain treatments are also often not taken seriously or dismissed. The mesh implant scandal is just one example.”

Thrive’s Digital opportunities for women’s wellbeing white paper explores the barriers to truly closing the health gap and potential solutions in overcoming them. You can download it here.
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