Empowering Women Through Health

Editorials March 28, 2019

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Empowering Women Through Health

When you champion a woman’s health, you empower her physically, mentally and emotionally.

We’ve carried forth this truth at Hologic, a global women’s health company, since our founding nearly 35 years ago.

We champion women’s well-being by creating a broad spectrum of innovative products and expanding access to them, raising awareness about frequently overlooked or stigmatized health issues, and sponsoring research on everything from breast cancer to HIV to fibroids.

Professional drive and personal inspiration guide us: Many of us have grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters who have battled the medical challenges we now work to overcome.
In advocating for women, we’ve learned that empowerment arises
from:

AFFIRMATION
Communities worldwide still wall off, dismiss or denigrate central aspects of women’s health.

In Australia, an engineer regularly calls in sick because her period causes debilitating pain. She hides the problem, embarrassed to discuss what she grew up learning as taboo. She discovers years later that one in five women suffer her same condition, abnormal uterine bleeding, and that a quick procedure called endometrial ablation can bring dramatic relief.

In Argentina, a college student avoids getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) because she might be labeled as promiscuous. Yet gonorrhea, chlamydia and other STIs can cause major, lifelong complications when left untreated.

Even cancer isn’t immune to societal pressures.

Just last month, the nonprofit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust released a survey that included a distressing finding: Among women in the United Kingdom who skip Pap and HPV testing, many worry that being diagnosed with the disease would bring shame on them and their families.

When women do speak up, they might encounter apathy, skepticism or misdiagnoses resulting from lack of knowledge about certain illnesses – including heart disease, stroke, endometriosis and pain linked to autoimmune diseases. The knowledge deficit occurs partly because of low research funding for those and other key women’s health conditions.

It’s imperative that we continue to affirm women, to make sure their health experiences are heard and taken seriously. Toward this end, we engage patient-support groups, medical charities, doctors’ organizations, scientific institutions, policy makers, international health agencies and news media.

AWARENESS
Empowerment also flows from awareness, which can lead to positive action.

In China, a banking manager undergoes a 3D mammogram after learning about its benefits at a wellness fair. The imaging reveals a small but aggressive tumor. Early detection leads to prompt treatment that spares her from a mastectomy.

In the United States, an OB/GYN doctor tests whether an expectant mother faces a high risk of preterm labor. The mom-to-be, who didn’t know such screening existed, follows special precautions after the test confirms the specialist’s concerns. She reaches full term and gives birth to a beautiful daughter.

And in Canada, severe cystic acne leaves a young woman with disfiguring facial scars. Her physician recommends a resurfacing laser, which smoothens her skin and significantly boosts her confidence.

Across six continents, Hologic raises awareness about women’s health with our message of early intervention through early detection.

ACCESS
At the same time, empowerment falls short if we don’t offer women access to leading-edge medical technologies.

Consider the following fact: A woman in a “high income country” can expect to live an average of 24 years longer than a woman in a “low income country,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Healthcare access is a leading cause of this gap. Hologic aims to narrow the gap.

In Africa, we work with the Clinton Foundation, WHO and others to provide our quality products to communities that otherwise couldn’t afford them. We also developed a new HIV test for Africa, where two thirds of the world’s HIV patients live.

Infants make up a prime target group for this new test. A Hologic scientist vividly remembers the babies she saw in Kenya who underwent the test during clinical trials last year.

The babies cried as their fingers were pricked, but their mothers smiled with relief. Now, those mothers could learn early on whether their children have HIV – and if so, jumpstart them on treatment that would enable them to lead full lives for decades to come.

Talk about empowerment!

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