Council urges immediate development of a women’s health strategy for the North

Derry City and Strabane District Council is calling for the immediate development of a women’s health strategy in the North.
The North currently does not have a women’s health strategy.The North currently does not have a women’s health strategy.
The North currently does not have a women’s health strategy.

A motion was brought forward by Derg Sinn Féin District Councillor Caroline Devine at a reconvened Full Council meeting on Thursday, November 23.

It noted Council’s concern about the lack of such a strategy in the North, and proposed that the Council writes to the Department of Health to request the immediate development of an appropriate strategy.

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Colr. Devine said: “The North is the only area across these islands that doesn't have a women’s health strategy’

“The groundwork to develop a strategy needs to commence now, so that our unique health needs and challenges are recognised and health outcomes are improved for girls and women here.

“There isn’t enough focus being placed on women-specific health issues like menstrual health, contraception, fertility, and post-partem support.

Colr. Devine said conditions like depression, Alzheimer's and Irritable Bowel Syndrome affect women differently, but women were underrepresented and this can lead to poorer outcomes.

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“Women need healthcare that’s holistic, inclusive, evidence-based and patient-centred. Healthcare that tackles taboos and normalizes the conversation around things like periods, fertility and menopause.

“We need to feel listened to and there needs to be better training for healthcare professionals on women-specific conditions.”

Foyleside SDLP District Councillor Lilian Barr said the motion was ‘timely’ and ‘overdue’.

“Women’s health issues haven't been prioritised and women's voices haven't been heard, so a women’s health strategy is critical.

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“The Department of Health has done work to prioritise women’s health but this is too little, too late,” she said.

Waterside DUP Alderman Chelsea Cooke thanked Colr. Devine for bringing forward a ‘very important’ motion.

Alderman Cooke said: “As Chairperson of a women’s group, health issues is something that’s talked about frequently.

“Women live longer than men but spend more of their lives in poor health so a women’s health strategy is vitally important, but we need to make sure that, when it is fully implemented, it goes somewhere and doesn’t sit on a shelf.

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“These issues are important to all women and girls, and it’s important that their voices are heard and used to create this strategy.”

Faughan UUP Alderman Ryan McCready said the strategy was ‘another step forward in the emancipation of girls and women’.