March 8 is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Women’s Day. This year’s theme, #EmbraceEquity is about getting the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough, especially in healthcare.
Equity means creating an inclusive world. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. Nowhere is this truer than in healthcare.
According to the WHO, in some societies, health discrimination is a continuing issue for women and girls where sociocultural factors prevent them from receiving quality health services and attaining the best possible level of health. To help improve health outcomes, the WHO has created a list of the top health checks for women.
Let’s take a look:
Elevated blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. All adult women should know their blood pressure. At older ages, annual screening is recommended, and also for those women with conditions like obesity, which put them at increased risk for hypertension.
Blood glucose tests
Women who are overweight or obese, are of ethnicity that is at higher risk, or have a family history of diabetes or history of gestational diabetes, need to have their blood glucose checked periodically and get medical advice.
Body mass index (BMI)
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure for obesity. While there are no hard and fast guidelines for how often BMI should be checked, it’s an important number. BMI indicates whether a person is overweight or obese – conditions that raise the risk of serious health problems like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Bone density screening
Women should start screening for osteoporosis at age 65 but those with risk factors for osteoporosis, such as fractures or low body weight, should be screened earlier. NGO, Health Bones Australia, recommends women and men at increased risk should discuss earlier screening with their doctor.
Breast cancer early detection
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer cases and deaths in women. Early detection of cancer can save lives. Common symptoms include lumps, asymmetry, and skin or nipple retraction, changes, or bloody discharge. If available, participating in a breast cancer screening programme can be beneficial. Screening is done by mammography.
The starting age can vary and is generally 50 years; mammography should be repeated every two years. If a woman has a family history of the disease, or other concerns, she should consult with a doctor about starting screening earlier.
BreastScreen Australia is a national breast screening programming that actively invites women aged 50 – 74 to have a free, two-yearly mammogram. Women aged 40 – 49 and those aged over 74 are also eligible to receive a free mammogram but do not receive an invitation.
Colon cancer early detection
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer among women. Early detection of cancer can save lives. It is important to be aware of common symptoms such as change in bowel habits, blood in the stool or unexplained weight loss. If available, participating in colorectal cancer screening is recommended.
Screening generally begins at the age of 50 years and can be done through stool-based tests (to test for blood in the stool) or endoscopy (to examine the intestines using a lighted tube and camera). If a woman has a family history of the disease, or other concerns, she should consult with her doctor about starting screening earlier.
Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is available to people between the ages of 50 and 74 who are invited to do a screening test every two years.
Poor dental health doesn’t just affect teeth: tooth and gum infections can negatively impact a patient’s wellbeing. To look after teeth, patients should brush regularly, avoid smoking and sugary foods, and make visit the dentist every six months to maintain mouth health.
Through regular dental check-ups that involve cleaning and examining the teeth, along with X-rays, a dentist can detect early signs of decay and any other problems.
Lipid profile check
This is a tool used to assess a patient’s risk of developing heart disease or stroke. If a woman is at risk for heart disease or stroke, the required frequency of this blood test should be discussed with their doctor.
For adults aged 40 years or older, and for those with conditions like obesity or diabetes, it is preferable to have the lipid profile which includes total cholesterol and other lipids.
Screening for cervical cancer: Pap tests and HPV testing
To screen for cervical cancer, a woman should start having Pap tests at 30 years of age. If the test is negative, Pap tests are recommended every three to five years.
Alternatively, an HPV test can detect human papillomavirus, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections that can lead to pre-cancer and cancer when persistent. Screening should also start at 30 years of age (earlier for women with HIV). The test can be repeated after a minimum of five years, if the test is negative.
Australia’s National Cervical Screening Program tests for both cancer and HPV. All women between the ages of 25 and 74 are included in the program. A woman is eligible to have her first test when she turns 25, or two years after her last Pap test. Cervical screening occurs every five years after that.
Women can monitor their skin, carefully inspecting the skin all over their body, looking for any new moles or changes to existing moles which can be early signs of skin cancer.
Sunburn can cause melanoma and other skin cancers so protecting against sun burn is important for all ages. If there are any changes to moles, a woman should see her doctor as soon as possible.
Visual and hearing impairments
Hearing and sight may change as a woman ages and things she once took for granted, such as reading road signs or holding a conversation in a loud restaurant, may become challenging.
The WHO has created a free hearing app hearWHO that can be downloaded and used to check hearing. Women should also maintain regular eye checks to make sure they are wearing the right prescription glasses or contact lenses, if needed.
Visionflex telehealth solutions – improving access to health services
According to the WHO, “telemedicine holds great potential for reducing the variability of diagnoses as well as improving clinical management and delivery of healthcare services worldwide by enhancing access, quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness”.
The Visionflex stable of innovative telehealth technology enables remote health professionals to deliver primary health services to women around the globe.
Visionflex key telehealth products include:
Transport a ProEX Mobile and a customised range of peripherals in one easy, portable solution.
General Examination Camera HD
Accurate diagnosis requires attention to detail and high-quality imaging. The multi-purpose GEIS® full HD 1080p camera with high intensity LED illumination provides greater detail and more flexibility. USB connection.
Quick and easy blood pressure monitor with A&Ds Continua Certified system, ensuring consistent, precise readings. Bluetooth® connection.
Precision optics, high-intensity LED illumination and professional grade camera support the practitioner in making an accurate diagnosis. 5-50mm DOF and 60° FOV. USB connection.
Non-invasive, fast, accurate measurement for patient oxygen saturation (SpO2) and pulse rate (PR). Bluetooth® connection.
Easy to use, large display, battery operated, Bluetooth®. 4 measurement patterns. Single channel: palm, leg, chest, and optional 3-lead for chest/torso.
Quickly transfer accurate blood glucose readings via Bluetooth® to a ProEX telehealth device. Easy to read backlit display with fast glucose readings and auto power-off.
The ultimate in full HD precision endoscopic images. Fantastic clarity and highly ergonomic at just 140 grams. Rugged, all-metal construction. USB connection.
The latest technology in intraoral cameras. Easy to use, designed for more maximum patient comfort, high-definition image quality and super-bright LED illumination. Instantly recognise and display cavities and plaque. USB connection.
Weighing scales assist patients to develop good habits for management of diabetes, diet, exercise, and weight. Industrial and Bluetooth® scales available.