Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2005-09-07-Speech-3-291"

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"Mr President, I wish to begin by saying thank you for the opportunity given to me to draft this important report on gender discrimination in health systems. I wish to thank all those fellow Members who have shown great interest in, and commitment to, the report and made valuable contributions to it. The gender with which we happen to be born is as important a health factor as social, economic and ethnic background. The UN conferences in Cairo in 1994 and Beijing in 1995 put gender-related discrimination in health care on the agenda. Unfortunately, not much has happened since in the way of action, whether it be in the Member States or at EU level. Women’s health is still often seen as synonymous with sexual and reproductive health. Naturally, women’s health is more complex than that. I want to mention a few examples of gender discrimination. Women with acute heart complaints are still forced to wait longer than men for ambulance transport. The same types of heart disease still lead to higher mortality among women than among men. It is still the case that more men than women with sight problems are given the opportunity of having cataract operations. Violence against women, which is a major public health problem, is still an almost invisible phenomenon in medical training and practice. Men still constitute the norm in research and the development of new drugs. This report focuses in particular on two different areas. The first area is about submitting proposed measures to combat gender discrimination between men and women affected by the same or similar diseases. The other focus area is women’s health from the perspective of so-called ‘women’s diseases’, that is to say diseases that almost only affect women, for example breast cancer, osteoporosis, eating disorders in the case of young girls and violence against women in all its different forms – physical and mental abuse, genital mutilation, sexual slavery, prostitution etc. Gender discrimination becomes very clear to anyone able to study the research reports that exist. For example, an analysis of the work done at a health centre in Sweden specialising in skin diseases reveals that men and women are treated very differently. Men are given the more expensive light treatment, while women are sent home with a prescription for skin ointment. The conclusion in terms of costs is that, if women were treated in the same way as men, the resources expended on women would increase by 61%. If, on the other hand, the intensity of women’s treatment is taken as the norm, the cost of treatment would decrease by 33%. I might also mention that, in the example I cite the doctors who discriminated between women and men in issuing prescriptions were women. This shows that gender discrimination permeates thinking in the case of both men and women. In order to combat gender discrimination, researchers and others must have access to gender-disaggregated health care statistics. Without information and knowledge, we cannot substantiate how, in reality, gender discrimination operates. Nor, without such knowledge, can we do anything about the problems. It really is high time that measures were taken enabling us to talk in terms of fair and equal care. Gender discrimination in health care is just as important a determinant as ethnic background and social and economic factors. This is something of which we must take account in future in our work to obtain fair and equal health care. I also wish to emphasise that access to sexual advice, reproductive health care and family planning are important tools in the service of women’s health, as well as of women’s opportunities to participate in society on equal terms and of combating poverty and the ongoing feminisation of poverty."@en1

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