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Women’s Health

Secure women from the impact of health emergencies

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The human cost of the Covid pandemic has been staggering – the loss of lives, income and jobs has devastated many. The closure of educational institutions deprived young people, especially girls, of their education and peer relationships. All of this has severely affected our collective wellbeing. With India facing the possibility of a third wave of infections, action must be taken quickly and measures taken to protect the most vulnerable and affected.

Young girls and women, especially the poor and disadvantaged, are disproportionately affected. They continue to struggle under the weight of increased household chores, a lack of employment and financial dependency, and most importantly, a lack of access to adequate health care, including reproductive medicine. Girls are more likely to miss out on education than boys as schools relocate classes online and girls have limited access to mobile devices. Many girls were pushed to do more housework or work and care that kept them away from class. Many of them are unlikely to return when schools reopen.

Mobility restrictions have forced families to stay at home, increasing the risk of gender-based violence and the loss of autonomy and livelihoods. In 2020 and subsequently also in 2021, complaints about domestic violence increased significantly. The number of complaints reported between January and May 2021 was higher than in any year since 2000. Existing figures are also grossly underestimated, as 86% of women who have experienced violence never seek help. This has profound implications for women’s mental health and can lead to consequences such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidality, and substance abuse. According to recently published data from the National Family Health Survey-5 (NHFS-5), spousal violence among unmarried women aged 18 to 49 has decreased only slightly, by 1.9 percentage points since the last survey.

Women also face other forms of oppression. During the pandemic, accredited social health activists or ASHAs faced violence on their part. They were attacked by a mob in Bengaluru while visiting a disease inspection site; in Haryana, they were attacked while conducting door-to-door symptom tracking of coronavirus. Frontline female health workers, who form the backbone of our primary health system, often face backlash and discrimination.

Women’s access to basic health services has also been affected. Sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, have been particularly hard hit, with studies pointing to record increases in unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal mortality.

Hence, it is important to view family planning services as an issue of India’s economic security and unwanted pregnancies as a risk to that stability. The NFHS-5 reported notable improvements in some family planning and health indicators. The total fertility rate in India dropped to 2. This shows that the country’s population is making progress towards stabilization. We must continue to drive advances in sexual and reproductive health, with an emphasis on family planning at the national and state levels.

Here are my recommendations:

To innovate and expand the use of information and technology to serve the underserved, especially those living in rural areas and those who are marginalized. Technology could also be used to reach young people. Covid has opened up new ways to connect services like telemedicine and bring them closer.

Provide cultural and age-appropriate education about sexuality and include information about sexual and reproductive health in qualification programs in the curricula of Nehru Yuva Kendras, schools, etc. Technology can help reach the youth.

Reduce reliance on overburdened healthcare facilities. The national family planning program should consider repurposing some contraceptive methods, such as oral contraceptive pills (OCP), as “self-care” methods. Easing regulatory and legal barriers to OCPs and Emergency Contraceptives (ECs). Permit the distribution of oral and emergency contraceptives by non-physicians in the private sector. ASHAs and ANMs can distribute these during their visits. This requires reassignment of OCPs and ECs in the corresponding plans of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Improve India’s Covid Vaccine Protection by creating mechanisms that encourage communities to make vaccination easier for women.

Disseminate behavioral change communication materials to address vaccination hesitation issues specific to women, such as: B. Myths about the negative effects on menstruating, pregnant and lactating women.

Health emergencies affect women disproportionately. As policy makers and public representatives, it is our duty to prioritize the health needs of women. This requires sustained engagement from multiple stakeholders, including decision makers, civil society and health care providers.

Experience around the world has taught us that there is no easy path to gender equality. We need to ensure that women in India have an equal opportunity to live a safe and healthy life. Reducing vaccination hesitation coupled with strengthening reproductive services could be the first step in mitigating the effects of the two waves of Covid in India and giving women and girls a better chance to tackle a possible third wave.

Vandana Chavan is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha

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Women’s Health

Dubai’s Arab Health to examine why women had fewer babies during Covid-19 pandemic

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Obstetrics and gynecology experts will meet at the Arab Health Summit in Dubai this month to discuss why women have decided not to have babies because of the pandemic.

The Arab Health Obstetrics and Gynecology Conference will discuss trends in women’s health, including the impact of Covid-19 on reproduction and fertility.

dr Human Fatemi, medical group leader at ART Fertility Clinics in Abu Dhabi, said the pandemic has caused people to reconsider their plans to have children.

As an infertility specialist, I would not worry about Covid-19 and pregnancy

dr Human Fatemi, Medical Group Leader of ART Fertility Clinics

“The pandemic has definitely shifted the desire to become parents and the desire to have a child,” he said.

“For some patients, especially women with reduced ovarian reserve and aging, the pandemic will significantly affect their ability to have children.

“As an infertility specialist, I would not be concerned about Covid-19 and pregnancy. The key message is to maintain hygiene, wear masks, ensure social distancing and be careful. If you have a reduced ovarian reserve and want to get pregnant, don’t delay.”

Several research results show a direct link between the pandemic and women’s desire to have children.

According to research by the United Nations Population Fund, public health crises and economic shocks have long been recognized as conditions that alter reproductive behavior.

Data from the US, Europe and East Asia show sharp falls in births as of October 2020 compared to the same months last year, suggesting that Covid-19 has caused short-term fertility declines in many countries.

Research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that one in five Australian women changed their baby plans because of the pandemic, and one in seven women said it likely affected when they would have children, with most study cohorts ( 92 percent) decided to delay pregnancy.

This was supported by a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which reported the link between the pandemic and births in 22 high-income countries and found particularly sharp declines in southern Europe – Italy (-9.1 percent), Spain (-8.4 percent) and Portugal (-6.6 percent).

But doctors said the research doesn’t prove there’s a greater risk for pregnant women. You should follow precautions and deliver babies safely.

dr Kiran Mehndiratta, a specialist obstetrician and gynecologist at NMC Specialty Hospital Abu Dhabi, told The National in May 2020 – during the peak of the first wave – that pregnant women are not at increased risk compared to others.

However, she added, it is important to know that pregnant women’s immunity is reduced to ensure the baby is not rejected by the mother as half of its genes come from the father.

That means people with pregnancy complications like diabetes or high blood pressure, which are known risk factors for severe Covid-19, could also be at higher risk.

Most of the “very small number” of pregnant women who die at NMC Specialty Hospital, where Dr. Mehndiratta works who tested positive for Covid-19 were also asymptomatic.

“Only a few of them gradually developed a cough,” she said.

This supports theories that suggest pregnant women are no more vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 than others.

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Conference is a regular feature of Arab Health, taking place from 24th to 27th January at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The conference will host several key sessions on fertility, reproduction and Covid-19, including a session on ‘Covid-19 and the Fetus’, presented by Prof Asma Khalil, who specializes in Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine at St George’s University Hospital specializes. London. A session on ‘Covid-19 and the impact on fertility’ will be given by Dr. Johnny T Awwad, Executive Chairman of Women’s Services and Head of Reproductive Medicine at Sidra Medicine & Research Centre, Qatar.

Updated January 19, 2022 2:27 p.m

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Women’s Health

Menopause brings an onslaught of changes to women’s bodies. Why don’t we talk about it?

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Menopause affects 50 million women in the United States, especially when they are at the peak of their careers and personal relationships. It is usually diagnosed 12 months after a woman’s last period.

Menopause begins around age 51, on average, and brings with it a serious drop in estrogen levels that affects the body from head to toe, says Dr. Somi Javaid, a board-certified gynecologist and founder of HerMD, a growing chain of health clinics in Cinncinati specializing in menopause and sexual health.

She explains that women experience hot flashes, trouble sleeping and memory, increased anxiety and depression, dry skin, weight gain, joint problems, decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, problems with orgasm, and no menstrual cycles for 12 straight months. And in the months or years leading up to menopause — a period known as perimenopause — there’s still some bleeding, and estrogen levels still drop, but not as much.

People don’t talk much about menopause because it’s a generational thing, says Sally Mueller, a former Target executive and now co-founder and CEO of wellness company Womaness.

“I’m 57, my mother hasn’t talked about her menopause. And so the baby boomers and even Gen Xers really grew up being uncomfortable talking about it because their moms didn’t talk about it. And I see it really, really changing with millennials. Millennials are breaking every taboo and starting to open the conversation, so thank goodness.”

Despite the physical symptoms, women at this stage feel confident, have wisdom to share, and feel empowered and creative, Mueller points out.

hormone replacement therapy

According to Javaid, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is safe for millions of women and can effectively address many of the symptoms mentioned above, as well as other hidden problems such as bone loss and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Timing is important with HRT. “When hormones are prescribed within the first five years of menopause, they are actually cardioprotective. As for the increased risk of breast cancer, yes, if you have an estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor positive tumor, you can definitely accelerate growth. However, we still haven’t proven that HRT actually causes the cancer cells to start in the first place. But for patients who have a history or a strong family history, or who have genetic mutations such as BRCA, we do not recommend hormone replacement therapy for them.”

Does HRT help women become younger again? Javaid says that in her 20 years of clinical practice, women have said their skin changes, acne disappears, and joints hurt less.

“Yes, patients are seeing a return or resolution of some of their ailments. But I want to be clear: I’m not going to take a 51-year-old patient and make her 21 again. But they definitely feel better.”

There are now non-hormonal options, such as radiofrequency treatments and CO2 lasers, that are used for vaginal dryness, Javaid points out.

Start early – learn and adapt

It’s important to understand that menopause can lead to longer-term health effects, and many women aren’t informed until they’re already through menopause, Mueller says. “It would be a much easier transition if they were educating themselves even in their 30s and early 40s.”

Javaid says she begins educating her patients in her 30s. “I always tell my patients: nobody knows your body better than you do. If your provider is not listening to you, you need another provider. … I truly encourage women to live their best life, to understand what’s going on with them, and to seek the care that fits both their choices and their lifestyle. I think the sooner they find out about this, the better they will do with their healthcare.”

Javaid says women need to eat differently, too, and she’s a big proponent of intermittent fasting to lower insulin levels, which helps with weight gain during menopause.

Also, turn to weight loads to counter osteoporosis and do pelvic floor strength training to maintain sexual function and stay continent, she adds. “We don’t want to pee on ourselves when we’re exercising, coughing, or laughing with friends.”

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Women’s Health

Do advanced therapies have a place in women’s health?

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Lehr participated in a biotech showcase session titled “Women’s Health: Progress and Innovation Continue to Generate Investor Interest.” The panel included executives from Context Therapeutics, EndoCyclic Therapeutics, Gennev, iSono Health and Univfy.

What is women’s health?

Defining women’s health seems deceptively simple, but there are many definitions, according to Biotech Showcase panelists. For some companies and investors, it is defined by certain diseases, such as hormonal diseases or diseases that affect women differently than men. For others, the term is limited to just breast cancer.

An evolving term – femtech – has emerged to refer to technologies focused on women’s health. Panelists explained that the classification helped increase visibility and make investors (traditionally a male-dominated space) intrigued and motivated to explore and learn more about the category. Ultimately, the committee called for more female investors.

Recently, femtech-focused companies and products have emerged. But according to Lehr, the innovations of this group are only incremental improvements. What the industry needs are logarithmic changes that catalyze a massive step forward toward healing.

One such innovation that has the potential to create that logarithmic jump is immunotherapy, Lehr said. Investors are already interested in this space, and getting investors to invest in female cancer immunotherapy could be transformative.

Advanced therapies for women’s cancer

Lehr explained that Context Therapeutics is a mission-driven company dedicated to women’s oncology. The company strives to develop products that improve the quality of life for women living with cancer.

The Company’s lead candidate is Onapristone Extended Release (ONA-XR), a progesterone receptor antagonist that inhibits the progesterone receptor by binding to chromatin, which in turn downregulates cancer stem cell mobilization and blocks immune evasion. The progesterone receptor is a ligand-activated transcription factor that promotes progesterone-dependent cancers such as ovarian, uterine (endometrial) and breast cancer.

These cancers hijack progesterone to stimulate cancer cell proliferation, metastasis, regeneration and immune evasion. ONA-XR is currently being evaluated in four Phase II studies and the Company expects to report results from these studies in 2022.

Context is also developing Claudin 6 bispecific, an anti-CD3 x, anti-Claudin 6, antigen bispecific monoclonal antibody that redirects T cell-mediated lysis to malignant cells that express Claudin 6. Claudin 6 is a target for a tight junction protein and is particularly enriched in ovarian and endometrial tumors. The combination of precision medicine and immunotherapy aims to attack tumors directly without damaging normal tissue.

As excitement and innovation in the field continues to grow, Lehr and other Biotech Showcase panelists expressed optimism about near- and long-term progress in bringing advanced therapies and transformative technologies to the women’s health sector.

Do you have a unique perspective on your research related to women’s health or femtech? Contact the publisher today to learn more.

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