World Health Day 2023

The Indispensable Role of Women in the Health Sector

It is impossible to exaggerate how valuable women are to the health sector. Women have significantly influenced the development and provision of healthcare services worldwide. They have contributed considerably to the health of numerous people and cultures, including nurses, midwives, doctors, and researchers.

Historically, women have served as primary carers and healthcare providers in families and communities, transferring knowledge and expertise from generation to generation. However, they have consistently been underappreciated and underrepresented in the formal health system. The crucial role of women in healthcare has only recently received widespread recognition and celebration.

Nursing is one of the fundamental ways that women have contributed to the health sector. The foundation of any healthcare system is its nurses, who are overwhelmingly female. They administer medications, perform medical evaluations, organize treatment programs, and directly care for patients. Without nurses, hospitals and clinics wouldn’t be able to run smoothly, and patient care would suffer.

Significant Economic Contribution of Women in the Health Sector

Access to high-quality health care is crucial for human capital development and is required for poverty reduction and the establishment of productive, sustainable economies. The role of women in healthcare leadership is an understudied but critical component of the discussion about strengthening healthcare systems. Women comprise an estimated 70% of the world’s 43 million healthcare workers. Women make four-fifths of health purchases and are predominantly the decision makers for satisfying their family’s health requirements. Given this, having a significant female presence in senior leadership positions in healthcare corporations and firms would benefit all.

Their healthcare requirements are typically emphasized in the traditional approach to women’s health. Yet, women play a significant role in giving and receiving healthcare in their homes and larger communities. Its participation needs to be given more credit regarding the economy, politics, and culture.

Women are essential as nurses, midwives, community health workers, and doctors in the world’s healthcare workforce. 90% of nurses are women in some nations. Women currently make up the majority of applicants to medical schools in several countries (including the UK). However, females are still less likely than men to hold high positions in the healthcare industry. However, this does not equate to salary equity or equality for those who continue to practice medicine after receiving their training.

Significant Contributions of Women to Medical Science

During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses’ contributions to patient care have been significant. Nurses have been in the vanguard of the international response, working nonstop to provide patient care in clinics and hospitals that are understaffed and packed. Their contributions to the fight against the pandemic cannot be overstated, and their sacrifices, dedication, and bravery have been nothing short of remarkable.

In addition to men, women have made significant contributions to medical science. Women have continued to play a crucial part in scientific research, medication development, and clinical trials despite gender disparities in science. The creation of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and the identification of the breast cancer gene are two examples of revolutionary studies headed by female researchers and significantly contributed to medical advancements.

Dr. Katalin Karikó is one such woman whose research on mRNA technology paved the path for creating the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Kariko’s work on mRNA technology was initially underfunded and ignored. Still, thanks to her perseverance and commitment, she has contributed to the global effort to combat the epidemic.

Women have contributed to public health policies that prioritize the health and well-being of communities in addition to nursing and medical research. Women in public health leadership have led initiatives to lower maternal and infant mortality rates, enhance access to contraception, and promote disease prevention strategies like vaccination, screening, and education.

Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Partners In Health’s chief medical officer, is one of these women. Dr. Mukherjee’s work has eradicated health inequities and ensured that underserved people have access to healthcare globally. Her commitment to health justice and advocacy have changed how public health policies are implemented.

In addition, women have played a crucial role in combating global health crises like HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and COVID-19. Women were essential in spreading awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, tackling stigma and prejudice, and promoting treatment administration and care for those infected. Similarly, women made up the majority of frontline health workers during the West African Ebola outbreak, risking their lives to provide treatment for patients and stop the virus from spreading.

In today’s fight against COVID-19, women are essential players. They are engaged in research, establishing policies, and working in hospitals and clinics to lessen the pandemic’s effects on vulnerable areas.

Female leaders have been at the forefront of the global response, offering leadership, direction, and support to nations worldwide. Examples include Dr. Soumya Swaminathan of the World Health Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the World Trade Organization, and Dr. Angela Merkel, the former Chancellor of Germany.

Closing Thoughts

Women have significantly improved healthcare results worldwide, whether through nursing and medical research, public health policy, or responding to global health crises. To achieve gender equity in healthcare, we must continue to acknowledge, celebrate, and promote the contributions made by women to the healthcare industry.

World Health Day 2023

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