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As the founder of Femtech Insider, I’ve been watching women’s health innovation for many years and the most common question I get is: “If there was one thing you could fix in women’s healthcare, what would it be?”
To evoke lasting change it takes the proverbial village to come together, which is why I believe we need to spend more time and resources on development.
An ecosystem for change
Last year, Scotland became the first country in the U.K. to introduce a women’s health plan and to launch a concentrated effort to tackle inequalities.
“Our vision for women’s health is an ambitious one – and rightly so”, shared Maree Todd, the then member of Scottish Parliament and Minister of Women’s Health and Sport. “It is clear that wider change must happen to ensure all our health and social care services meet the needs of all women, everywhere.”
In December 2021 the Campbell Report, was published by a working group from across the Scottish life sciences and healthtech ecosystem with the goal to explore how to attract increased levels of private investments in the sector and work toward the ambition to become the fastest growing health innovation life sciences cluster in Europe.
Just last month, the Women’s Health Innovation Forum Scotland, a conference organized by women’s health focused VC fund Goddess Gaia Ventures brought together stakeholders from private sector, government, universities and research institutions who discussed how to address health inequities to benefit the health of women and other underrepresented groups in Scotland and beyond.
Opening the event Todd encouraged collaboration, stating: “It is critical we streamline innovation into the NHS and social care with women’s and children’s health as priority areas for innovation.”
As for glaring inequities here at home, a recent survey of 2,000 American women, conducted by Premom, found that while respondents reserve an average of $30 per month for sanitary pads, tampons and other related products, 47% “always” go over budget.
A blueprint for collaboration
Among the big issues besides the lack of funding for women’s health, is a lack of inclusion of females in medical research, which leads to data gaps and no efficient treatments. The lack of awareness for health issues overall, among women themselves, providers and those designing public policy continues to be an issue.
“Together, we are working to address inequalities in all aspects of health that women are facing”, Todd says. “The Women’s Health Plan signals our ambition and determination to see change for women in Scotland, for their health and for their role in society. Innovation and technology are key to that ambition.”
It is now a matter of implementation, patience and funding to make lasting change happen and collaboratively create what could be a blueprint for lasting change.