June 13, 2024

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Lack of knowledge and misdiagnosis: Women’s health has an ‘essential’ day.

Lack of knowledge and misdiagnosis: Women’s health has an ‘essential’ day.

Voices for women

Noos News

  • Petra Steinhoff

    Online editor

  • Petra Steinhoff

    Online editor

National Women’s Health Day is held for the first time in Jarbors in Utrecht. The spotlight is squarely on gynecology.

Health care workers, scientists, patient organizations and women’s networks have the opportunity to support each other, spread knowledge and promote gender-specific care.

According to the initiative’s founder, Miriam Kayger, this is urgently needed, because it is still not sufficiently known that women get sick differently than men.

“In 2024, women still do not always receive proper care because the research was done on men. This can lead to incorrect diagnoses, incorrect treatments, and sometimes even death,” explains Kayger.

Reporting point

The sold-out day is an initiative of Voices for Women, which works to amplify the voices of women suffering from unexplained health complaints. On the Point reports Voices for Women Thousands of women shared their stories. The Foundation is committed to gender-specific medical care and wants to share existing knowledge with women and healthcare professionals.

There is also a large knowledge gap among doctors when it comes to the health of women’s bodies. “For example, medical students are told little about the differences between men and women during their studies,” says Kayger. “With insufficient knowledge, you cannot always provide appropriate treatment, but you will be held responsible for it.”

Normalizing female suffering

Professor and gynecologist Feddy Schiele from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam also realizes this. Call this the normalization of female suffering. “If these women were sent to the right doctor, there would seem to be a solution to 80 percent of those problems.”

Doctors often do not understand women’s complaints because they are trained to treat male symptoms. There is little attention to recognizing symptoms in women.

According to Schell, this focus on males arose because much medical knowledge was acquired in wars, where it was primarily men. “Then this knowledge was extended to women, because the heart is a heart and the kidney is a kidney, the assumption was, but this is not correct.”

“It’s part of it,” complaints.

Cultural factors also play a role. “We tend to be very harsh with women,” Schell said. Women are made clear early on that they should only persevere if they have menstrual pain, for example. “We call those complaints ‘It’s part of it.’”

This appears to be costing European society billions, as an international group of researchers, including Schell, estimated at the end of last year. The total number of misdiagnoses among women, which often means that they have to visit the doctor several times, as well as the impact on the economy, costs European society around 750 billion euros annually. This represents about 5% of the European budget.

Extra money

Therefore, he believes that Women’s Health Day is an excellent initiative. Women are now demanding that they pay attention to the problems they face. “It’s great that they say: ‘We’re going to do things differently.’ And that the profession is joining us, which leads to many collaborations. Now the government.”

Politics is also represented in today’s Jaarbeurs. Outgoing Minister Dijkstra (Medical Care) is present. She announced earlier this year that additional funds would be allocated to more research into health problems experienced only by women.

The goal is for Women’s Health Day to become an annual event. According to Kayger, this is “necessary and perhaps the beginning of an important change in women’s medicine.” There will also be a reporting point in other countries, starting with Belgium.