Do women and girls deserve access to health care?

It’s a harsh question to ask (and should have a very easy answer) but each time a woman dies in childbirth, or has lower access to life-saving vaccines, or is afraid to report gender-based violence and seek the treatments she needs, it seems more and more like the world’s answer to that question is no.

Access to health care is a basic human right, and yet it is denied to so many women around the world. From maternal health care budgets being cut, to major gaps in diagnoses because women’s issues are often trivialized (we’ll get into that in a little bit), to transgender women being denied treatment altogether — it’s appalling just how urgent the issue of access to health care for women really is.

It is a result of centuries of gender inequality and also furthers the gender bias agenda, because at its core the issue isn’t just questioning whether women and girls should have access to health care, it’s questioning whether women and girls deserve to live.

Despite this, women are critical to the health care workforce, and without them we’d lose 90% of our patient-facing frontline health defenders whom we rely on to tackle global health threats — for instance, could you imagine what handling the COVID-19 pandemic without women in health care would have been like? As women health professionals have repeatedly been proven to have better bedside care for patients than men, it would likely have been bleak to say the least.

We need to work towards achieving gender equality so that all women, everywhere can have access to critical health care. If you’re still unsure about how serious the issue is, here are five facts that prove we need to take urgent action to ensure women get better access to health care.

  1. Medical Research Leaves Women Behind.
  2. Men Are Diagnosed Quicker Than Women.
  3. Women Are More Likely to Die of Heart Attack Than Men.
  4. About 75% of Health Care Leadership Roles Are Held by Men.
  5. Women Are Perceived to Be in Less Pain Than Men.

Read the full article about women's access to healthcare by Khanyi Mlaba at Global Citizen.