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.
Spotlight on: Women's Health Champion
One of the key medium-term actions for the Women's Health Plan was the appointment of a Women's Health Champion, who will support the implementation of the Plan, driving forward change and improvement in Women's Health across Scotland.
Here, our Women's Health Champion, Professor Anna Glasier OBE, sets out her priorities for the coming year.
"I am honoured to have been invited to champion Women's Health in Scotland and am eagerly looking forward to starting in the role and making progress with the medium and longer term actions".
Scotland has a long tradition of being at the forefront of advances in women's reproductive health. The Scottish Government has a history of being courageous in its approach to some controversial areas of women's health in the past, making emergency contraception available free in pharmacies from 2008 for example and, more recently, enabling women having early medical abortion to take both sets of abortion medicines at home, where clinically appropriate to do so. But the current Plan encompasses much more than reproductive health, recognising as it does the inequalities which affect women in many areas of health.
Having worked in NHS Scotland in reproductive health for many years, I am particularly keen to take a focussed approach to some of the proposals regarding menstrual health and the menopause, since both issues affect over half the population of Scotland at some point in their lives. It is clear from the report on progress that action has already been taken, particularly in terms of improving the amount of high quality and accessible information available to women in Scotland on these topics.
Menopause is one of the key priorities of the Women's Health Plan. During my time as Women's Health Champion I should particularly like to explore the provision of our specialist menopause services to try and understand any differences in the delivery of services currently provided by different Health Boards so that we can take a national approach, learning from 'what works' in service provision.
It is so positive to see so much is already going on in the field of endometriosis both in terms of raising awareness of the condition and in its research. I know that this is a condition that can really impact all aspects of women's and their families' lives, and I want to support the continuation of this important work to help improve access for women to appropriate support, quicker diagnosis and treatment.
In addition, I would like us to think more about the impact of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition which affects many women from the onset of their first period to beyond the menopause, is a common cause of subfertility and can affect women's health in later life including the risks of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
This takes me to my third priority - heart health - since heart disease remains a major cause of death and disability for women in Scotland. There is also an important overlap with inequalities relating to race and social deprivation. I have a lot to learn in this area of health care and I look forward to engaging with clinical experts and hearing from those with lived experience in order to do so.
I look forward to working with everyone in the Women's Health Plan Implementation Programme Board, in the Lived Experience Stakeholder Group and beyond in the hope that together we can achieve great things for the health of women in Scotland.
Professor Anna Glasier, OBE
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