New female health network

The Australian Health Research Alliance (AHRA) welcomed the $5 million commitment by the Coalition to fund a ground-breaking national women’s health alliance.

The commitment of $5 million is to go towards a nation-building initiative, informed by women for women, called the National Women’s Health Research, Translation and Impact Network.

Founding Chair of AHRA and Chair of the Network Professor Helena Teede and current Chair of AHRA Professor Steve Wesselingh this week applauded the Coalition’s commitment to the development of this network.

Professor Teede says the initiative would change the way women can engage and work with health professionals and researchers to prioritise, create evidence for, and access evidence-based health services, treatments and patient care.

“Women have specific health challenges and require specific healthcare at various life stages: through young adulthood, the reproductive years, midlife and older age”, she said.

“While Australia has made significant advances in healthcare, women’s mental and physical health and illness burden continues, presenting challenges unique to women. Until now, Australia has lacked a dedicated national health and research network for women.”

Professor Teede says the network presents an opportunity to ensure taxpayers’ spend on key women’s issues is targeted and effective.

In all, nine priority areas have been identified from extensive consultations across:

  • Preconception, pregnancy and postpartum health of women and babies.
  • Women’s mental health.
  • Women’s reproductive health.
  • Women’s chronic disease including cancer, cardio-vascular disease and preventative health
  • Healthy lifestyle, nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of obesity in women and families.
  • Addressing domestic violence and abuse.
  • Improving indigenous women’s’ health.
  • Optimising healthy ageing for women.
  • Improving women’s sexual health.

Ms Leslie Arnott, Consumer Participation Officer at Health Issues Centre and co-director of Lamaze Australia, said: “Our health system is among the best in the world but there are gaps. With unprecedented partnership we have established priority areas and here, with government support, will collaborate to address these.

“As a consumer representative on this network, I fully appreciate the importance of partnering in research for better outcomes for Australian girls and women and of evidence translation such as providing evidence-based pregnancy and childbirth education.”

Professor Teede said: “Australian governments have collectively spent millions on tackling domestic violence and yet the dial has not moved adequately on the number of women killed by people they knew. The same applies to women specific health issues such as stillbirth and important pregnancy conditions linked to significant heart disease risk that remain unrecognised, leaving women vulnerable to preventable heart attacks.”

The AHRA also highlighted the opportunity for the Labor Party to match this commitment to send the strongest possible message to the women of Australia: that women have the right to the best possible health services to optimise health and quality of life and the best way to achieve this is through research and translation of evidence into world’s best practice, including through evidence-based services and education

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