It is my hope that in the days ahead, we are able to reiterate the importance of focusing on the evidence that clearly shows that when women have access to good health care, so do their families; in this way, they are the key to improving the health status of entire communities. Investments in things like expert advice for new parents struggling with breastfeeding are exactly that, investments, not costs. There is undeniable evidence that breastfeeding offers substantial health benefits. Lactation consultants can make all the difference between successfully initiating breastfeeding, or not. At the other end of the spectrum are the women who experience significant difficulty during menopause, and who sometimes feel, both physically and emotionally, that their lives are over. Medical experts, like many here at Women’s Health Clinic, can offer guidance through this often challenging life transition with empowering knowledge. Professionals like these across the province should be valued and supported to be an integral part of our health care system.
Decreasing supports to those living in poverty affects women disproportionately. Modifying benefits for affordable housing creates needless stress in the lives of women who are already living with plenty of it. Reducing services to urgent care and emergency departments, particularly walkable centres like the Misercordia, create barriers in accessing quality care. Taking away access to nurses with expertise in IV insertion can be devastating to the parent raising a child with a debilitating chronic disease, increasing the family’s discomfort and pain. When women caring for aging parents must find alternative and costly physiotherapy support, the growing pressures can seem insurmountable.
From our beginnings, Women’s Health Clinic has stood up proudly for the health and well-being of women and communities everywhere. We must continue to use our voices to share that good health for women means good health for everyone. We are going to help out in any way we can; indeed, we are already receiving calls from women and health care providers to help support them with the good work we have been doing for over thirty-five years. It will be up to all of us to stand in strong support of the services that are so crucial for women, and to provide shelter during the storm.
Theresa Oswald is currently the Executive Director of Women’s Health Clinic, and the former Health Minister for the Province of Manitoba.