Hadassah

Women’s Health Equity

American Affairs | Jul 2017

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc., reaffirms its commitment to women’s health, including research; preventive health; and access to quality, affordable, and equitable care.

The American health care system frequently fails to address women’s specific health care needs. Medical professionals, policymakers, and each woman should recognize that reproduction and female-only conditions are crucial components, but not the totality of women’s health. In addition to biological differences, women encounter a wide range of health disparities across multiple areas of medicine. Women are at greater risk for adverse reactions to medication and other treatments, and more likely to be misdiagnosed by medical professionals. While women have longer life expectancies, they also live sicker—often suffering from one or more chronic conditions during their later years. Women spend a higher share of their income on out-of-pocket health expenses due to cost disparities and the gender wage gap—further weakening women’s economic equity and security, and ultimately their health.

Hadassah founded the Coalition for Women’s Health Equity in 2016 to address inequities in prevention, research, access and quality of care, funding and support. By convening this coalition, Hadassah united a broad group of women's and health organizations into a unified force to advocate for women’s health equity—from prevention and diagnosis, to treatment and care. The Coalition is united in its support for women’s health awareness and the need for coordinated action.

Research: Cutting-edge medical and biotechnological research have contributed greatly to human survival and the eradication of numerous once-fatal diseases. The exclusion of women from research studies and limited funding for studies of health, epidemiology, disease, and pharmaceuticals that account for sex and gender differences have led to great deficits in medical knowledge. A pivotal study by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Women's Health & Gender Biology states that, “medical research that is either sex- or gender-neutral or skewed to male physiology puts women at risk for missed opportunities for prevention, incorrect diagnoses, misinformed treatments, sickness, and even death.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently implementing new policies and action plans to increase inclusion and analysis of female cells, animals, and humans in research.

Prevention: Education about healthy life choices enables wellness, disease prevention and early detection—empowering people with knowledge to make appropriate and informed medical decisions for themselves and their families. Hadassah is proud to provide health programs that teach women how to advocate for their own wellness through lifestyle changes and in the physician’s office. Through every stage of life, women require specialized preventive care (e.g., well-woman exams; nutrition counseling; contraception; breast feeding and post-partum depression support; genetic counseling and mammography; blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity screening; etc.) to ensure they stay healthy. Preventive care is proven to save money and save lives.

Access to Care: The health care system must be accountable to women and their health concerns. Women should never be charged more or denied coverage because of gender and pregnancy must never be classified as a preexisting condition. Maternity coverage and preventive health care are crucial essential health benefits, which should be available to all women regardless of location and type of coverage. Hadassah remains concerned about women and families losing access to or experiencing interruptions in care.

Therefore, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.:

  • Promotes the inclusion of women—representing the broad spectrum of women's health interests—on all policy working groups, health boards, commissions, and other advisory and regulatory committees.
  • Calls on the medical community to improve education and training to highlight sex and gender differences, and to advocate through its own institutions to promote greater women’s health equity in research, prevention, quality and access to care.
  • Reaffirms support for low and no-cost preventive health care, and the need to raise awareness about the availability and importance of these services.
  • Supports federal scientific agencies’ current efforts to increase inclusion and analysis of female test subjects in all types of health research, and promotes new regulations and congressional oversight to ensure equity.
  • Urges Congress and the Administration to protect women’s health coverage and ensure the stability and adequacy of financing necessary for a quality, affordable, and equitable health care system.
  • Directs Hadassah Regions and Chapters to educate their respective members and communities about women’s health equity through: health and wellness, and policy education programs; direct-advocacy opportunities; and potential partnerships with
    Coalition for Women’s Health Equity member organizations at the local level

Hadassah's Policy Statements represent the organization's official stance on a wide variety of issues facing our nation, Israel and other international matters of concern. Policy Statements are debated and voted on at national meetings by Hadassah’s national board and delegates from our membership. Once approved, statements become official policies of the organization and serve to define Hadassah's overall agenda and advocacy priorities. Hadassah, as a charitable organization classified under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, is prohibited from any direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, candidates for public office.

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