Women’s health roundup from the Public Health Congress

Conferences, Media releases, World Congress on Public Health
  • congress Labia Library reveals ‘normal’ and fights genital cosmetic surgery trend
  • Women have gained 20 years of life expectancy since 1960 but 1 Australian woman dies each week due to domestic violence—today the WHO reveals the global problem
  • A smartphone app puts health advice in women’s pockets
  • Economic abuse is a form of domestic violence
  • Dead or Deadly: an Aboriginal women’s health that’s working
Women’s health, Thursday 6 April at the 15th World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne

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1 in 3 women experiences violence from their partner

More than broken hearts says WHO’s Claudia Garcia-Moreno, head of research on violence against women at the WHO.

Worldwide, almost 1 in 3 women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

Claudia García-Moreno from the World Health Organization has studied the serious consequences of domestic violence for women’s physical, sexual and reproductive, and mental health—and what can be done to address it.

Claudia will present a global overview of where violence against women is happening, how it varies in low- and middle-income countries, the different forms it takes, and the contributing factors, such as alcohol and other substance abuse.

She will also review the evidence for the different approaches that have been used to address violence against women, such as strengthening law enforcement against perpetrators, strategies to change unequal gender stereotypes, empowering women to be financially independent, and educating school students about dating violence. She will highlight the role of the health sector, including better training for service providers to support the immediate needs of women who experience violence.

The Labia Library: the safe place to see what ‘normal’ labia look like

Amy Webster, Women’s Health Victoria

Around 4,500 people visit the Labia Library every day—women want to know what ‘normal’ genitalia look like.

Demand for female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS) has rapidly increased in Australia, the USA and the UK over the last decade. In response Women’s Health Victoria (WHV) took the initiative to show women what is ‘normal’ by developing The Labia Library.

Pornography—now easily accessible through the internet—is depicting idealised women’s genitalia. With changes in fashion and hair removal practices that make labia more visible, women are increasingly worried about whether their own labia is ‘normal’. At the same time, cosmetic surgery is increasingly normalised.

WHV developed The Labia Library (www.labialibrary.org.au), an online resource that supports positive body image by informing women about the natural diversity in normal female genital appearance.

Dr Amy Webster and Alexandre James from WHV will talk about the analysis of the feedback to the site, which has had more than 10 million page views from around the world since it was launched in late 2013. Feedback provided made it was clear that the Labia Library has positively impacted upon women’s health and wellbeing.

The vast majority of survey respondents perceived the site positively, often experiencing a reduction in anxiety and reassurance of normality. Some people who had been thinking about having cosmetic surgery also fed back they were reconsidering as a result of looking at the Labia Library.

E-health for women: empowerment through app development

Keren Greenberg, Hadassah University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel

women Greater engagement with recommended medicals tests, screening and check-ups could have a significant impact on women’s ability to effectively monitor or control their health.

Keren Greenberg and her colleagues from Hadassah University Medical Center have designed an e-health tool to provide women across Israel with personalised information, empowering them to take greater control of their health.

Keren works with the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Centre for Women to help women look after their health through the smartphones and devices they’re already carrying around in their pockets.

Keren will discuss how the team approached identifying the needs of women from the different cultural and religious areas of the city and their approach for designing the personalised e-health tool.

Whilst many e-health behaviour promotion tools are created through top-down design, Keren and her colleagues have focused on participant-based design. “Lacking scientific foundation, theory, or even simple evaluation procedures, we can waste public dollars with no sustainable, replicable outcomes,” explained Ms Greenberg.

She will also discuss related health interventions, such as a health literacy intervention for older, low socioeconomic status women and a school-based cardiovascular health promotion program.

Other speakers and topics

  • Victorian Women’s Health Atlas – mapping women’s health – Emma Dardick, Women’s Health Victoria
  • Economic abuse between intimate partners in Australia: prevalence, health status, disability and financial stress – Jozica Kutin, RMIT University
  • Waminda’s Dead or Deadly Program: an exemplary healthy lifestyle program for Aboriginal women in the Shoalhaven area of NSW – Hayley Longbottom, Waminda (South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Assessing the need for support in pregnant women in Australia – Sharon Goldfeld, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne

Women’s health stats and facts

  • The global average life expectancy for a girl born today is about 74 years. That’s 20 years more than women born in 1960.
  • An Australian girl born today can expect to live to 84 years. She’s gained a decade since 1960. Life expectancy for our Nepalese sisters has doubled from 35 to 71 years.
  • Life expectancy for Indigenous women is 73.7 years, a 0.6-year improvement over the previous five years, but a long way still to go with Closing the Gap.
  • In Australia, childbirth is 10 times safer for babies, and in USA, childbirth is 100 times safer for the mums than it was 100 years ago.
  • In Australia, we’ve seen a 95 per cent decrease in death rate for children aged zero to four years (including infants).

The World Congress on Public Health is on from 3 to 7 April at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

More at http://www.wcph2017.com/media.php and @wcph2017 on Twitter.
Contact Niall on 0417-131-977, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or Tanya on 0404-083-863 for interviews