Women's health plan: progress report
The Women's Health Plan aims to improve health outcomes and health services for all women and girls in Scotland. This first report sets out the progress made to date against the Plan's short term actions, and an update on medium term actions where progress is already being made.
Foreword by the Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport
The Women's Health Plan was published in August 2021. Its aim is to improve health outcomes and health services for all women and girls in Scotland.
The need for a women's health plan is clear. Women face particular health inequalities, and in some cases actual disadvantage, because they are women. Women and girls experience health needs and risks across their life course, which are not the same as men. This can relate to their reproductive health but also extends far beyond, for example, to conditions such as heart disease.
Many women continue to be treated within the same framework as men, rather than acknowledging that they have their own, sex-specific differences and health needs. Until the time comes when women's health is simply 'health', specific policy and focus on women's health is essential.
The Women's Health Plan is the beginning of this journey.
I am delighted to present the progress that has been made to date. I would like to give my thanks to all those who have worked so hard to make this happen across the NHS, public and third sectors in Scotland. Significant work has included:
- the launch of the Women's Health Platform on NHS Inform, which includes new resources on menopause and menstrual health.
- relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP) education in the Scottish curriculum includes learning about menstrual health, including menopause and endometriosis.
- that there is now a specialist menopause service in every mainland health board and a 'buddy' support system in place for the Island health boards.
- the launch of a £250,000 research call, jointly funded by the Scottish Government with Wellbeing of Women, which aims to develop improvements in treatment and management options for endometriosis.
- all community pharmacies in Scotland are now able to provide access to a three-month supply of bridging contraception (a short-term supply of contraception which bridges the gap between emergency and longer-term contraception) following a consultation with a pharmacist to determine suitability.
I would like to extend my particular gratitude to the women who continue to inform this vital work, and who bring their voices and views to us. Women's voices included the First Minister talking to Kirsty Wark about her own experience of menopause at Menopause Café's Flush Fest, illustrating the impact menopause can have on all women.
Women's voices will continue to be at the heart of all that we do, and through our partnership with the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) we will work to amplify all those who are seldom heard but to whom we must listen if we are to fully achieve the aspirations of the Women's Health Plan.
Whilst good progress is being made to improve women's health, we know we still have much more to do, and we won't shy away from that.
I am delighted to welcome Professor Anna Glasier as our Women's Health Champion and I look forward to working with her in the months ahead.
As we move forward through Year Two, the Plan sets a renewed focus into the medium and long term. I hope that in continuing to work together, we can truly say that in Scotland women and girls enjoy the best possible health, throughout their lives.
Maree Todd, MSP
Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport
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