Community engaged researcher Dr Ima Jackson has helped to inform Scotland’s first Women’s Health Plan.
The Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nursing and Community Health was invited in her role as co-chair of the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) last July to join The Women’s Health Group Subgroup on Gender and Health.
The plan, published last week, includes a commitment to reduce waiting times for diagnosing endometriosis from over eight years to less than 12 months, offer individual care plans after a woman’s first miscarriage and widen access to specialist menopause services.
The 68-page document, which was informed by women’s own testimonies and experts on the subgroup, is described as “the first stage of a long-term commitment to reducing health inequalities for women”.
It also pledges to appoint a national women’s health champion, establish a research fund to close gaps in scientific and medical knowledge and improve information and public awareness of heart disease symptoms and risks for women.
The Gender and Health subgroup was chaired by the late Emma Ritch, Executive Director of Engender. The subgroup played a key role in developing the plan because it made recommendations encouraging the women’s health group itself to reflect deeper thinking on gendered inequity and include gender-sensitive recommendations on cardiac health, menopause, abortion and contraception, and endometriosis in the health plan.
Dr Jackson said: “My input was focused on supporting the process, to understand the risks and reflect on the potential for harm which can be caused through not including intersectional analysis at all stages of strategic policy development.
“The need for this work was established well before the pandemic but the experiences through the pandemic have clarified how and why the thinking to support implementation of the plan will require to be built with much deeper knowledge. From my professional perspective it will need to reflect much greater understanding of how ethnicity is often used in health data to inscribe links between race/ethnicity and health status in diagnostic and treatment tools which is different in ideology to using ethnicity data to highlight disproportionate outcomes.”