Book: Women's Medicines

18. july 2015 at 12:27 | Veronika Valdova |  Medicine & Pharmacy
Medicines for Women

Edwards B, and Valdova V: "Political and religious perspectives on managing the risks and benefits of women's medicines," in Medicines for Women, ed. Mira Harrison-Woolrych (Springer, 2015).

Pharmacovigilance systems for regulating and controlling safety of medicines do not differentiate between those exclusively for women and those for men. And yet, the societal circumstances for certain women's medicines - especially where such medicines affect reproduction - are so obviously different from other medicines, we wished to examine what evidence exists to define how religion, cultural traditions, politics, economics, history and a society's view of science impacts the safe use of medicines by women. This is a large and complex subject which cannot be covered completely in this one chapter, but we aim to give an overview and to draw on specific examples from around the world to illustrate some of the many interesting issues.

Review of the chapter by Frank L Wallace, MD, MMS

The fundamental issue is one of gender inequality and on a global level, no less. For most of recorded history, human societies were largely paternalistically driven with women relegated to a secondary, even distant second-class status. The male of any hierarchal structure determined what was best for, and what, the woman would be allowed to have. A coequal relationship was extremely rare, if at all, to occur historically. We see that most glaringly today in what is called the emerging, undeveloped world. This ages-long accepted gender inequality itself can be reduced to an anthropological issue with how it manifests secondarily in all the social, political, religious, cultural, and finally biological spheres, impacting collectively women's health. The resultant barriers for women to obtain essentially coequal health determinism have been well discussed in the entirety of this book. To be sure, there has been slow progress in granting women equality in the last 100 years, but it has been uneven throughout the world and inconsistently practiced. Despite the 1994 ICPD historic milestone resulting in the 4 tenets under its Program of Action being a platform for 179 signatory governments, the UN and WHO follow on actions furthering these tenets, and ACOG's championing women's unrestricted EC access, we are still left with dealing with very little real movement in this kind of gender health equality. Otherwise this book would not have had to be written. Until the fundamental anthropological mind-sets at the heart of all these secondary barrier issues are changed, there can be little expected in the way of immediate resolution to women's health. But, it can be done with patience slowly over time through the continued actions advocated in this chapter and book.

Frank L Wallace, MD, MMS (AVATAR Worldlink)

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