New Report Highlights Alberta’s Women’s Health ‘Crisis’ Resulting from COVID-19 | The Canadian News

Women in Alberta are experiencing serious health problems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Alberta Women’s Health Foundation (AWHF).

Conducted in May 2021 and published last week, “Finding the Fractures: The Pandemic, Women’s Health Disparities, and the Road to Equity” looks at how the pandemic has affected various areas of women’s health.

Data was collected from 1,657 survey participants, 72% of whom identified as female.

“We surveyed people of all genders in our province, with core questions about how it has impacted women here in our province,” explained Tegan Gahler, vice president of fund development and stakeholder engagement.

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Key findings show that 63 percent of the women reported that pandemic stress was negatively affecting their physical health, while eight percent were diagnosed with a mental health disorder during the pandemic.

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“One of the most shocking statistics is that 11 percent of women experienced thoughts of harming themselves during the pandemic,” Gahler said.

“With that, we encourage people to seek support.”

Gahler said the organization cares about everyone’s health, but is emphasizing women’s health due to disproportionate research in the past.

“Historically, health research was done on men and women were seen, as we say, ‘the little man,'” he explained.

“But we know that the physiology of women is different. We are simply different beings. So we want to make sure there is a focus on women’s health research and those dollars go specifically to women’s health research. “

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The report goes on to say that Alberta women had to deal with the aftermath of daycare and school closings during the pandemic, taking on most of the responsibilities at home.

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When it comes to health care, the risk of disease has also increased.

According to the AWHF, more than 300 advanced-stage breast cancer diagnoses in Canada are estimated to be the direct result of a three-month break in breast cancer screening early in the pandemic.

Dr. Jane Schulz, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Alberta, has seen the impacts first-hand when staff were redirected to COVID-19 units.

“During certain times of the pandemic, our clinic at Lois Hole Hospital for Women was completely closed and patients were unable to keep appointments at all,” he said.

“We had to do everything over the phone.”

The concern for Schulz is that women miss out on cancer screenings and other medical appointments, either because of postponements or their reluctance to go to a clinic.

“Early diagnoses of cervical cancer and breast cancer will be missed, and people will possibly present later in their illness or disease.”

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Danielle Kopp, executive director of The Lethbridge Pregnancy Care Center, said the pandemic has caused her clients to experience increased anxiety, loneliness and isolation.

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“We have done everything possible to continue to support our customers in a safe and caring manner,” Kopp said. “We have certainly had to be creative and, at times, supports have had to move to phone or online appointments.

“One thing we’ve often heard from our clients is, ‘Thank you so much, you’re one of the only places I can still get help from.’

Overall, Gahler said the goal of the AWHF report is to inform the public about the profound impacts of COVID-19 on women’s health and to continue to raise funds to support more research efforts.

“I really only brought up a few of these issues for policy makers and change in our province. You know, what can we do on the advocacy front to have better supports for women in the future? “

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