November 6, 2023

The Role of Gender Risk Committees in Advancing Health Equity

Juliet Hinga

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Health equity is a fundamental concept in both public and private healthcare, which emphasizes fairness and justice of healthcare resources, opportunities, and outcomes. It involves striving for a state where every individual has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health and well-being, without being disadvantaged due to social, economic, or other factors. Achieving health equity requires systemic changes in healthcare delivery, public policies, and social determinants of health to ensure that all individuals have a fair opportunity to live healthy lives.

Gender Risk Committees are part of a systemic approach to address and mitigate gender-related risks and challenges within healthcare organizations, with the ultimate goal of promoting gender equality and reducing discrimination and disparities. However, gender risk committees are not as common in the healthcare space as they should be. This is because The healthcare industry has a long history of gender disparities, and it has been slow to address them. This historical inertia can make it challenging to introduce such initiatives. Also, Many healthcare organizations and professionals may not be fully aware of the extent of gender-related disparities in healthcare. As a result, there may be insufficient recognition of the need for gender risk committees.

Furthermore, Gender-related issues can be complex and multifaceted, involving intersections with other social determinants of health like race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Addressing these complexities can be challenging.

With recognition of all the aforementioned challenges, Health equity needs gender risk committees because gender is a significant determinant of health outcomes, and addressing gender-related risks and disparities is essential to achieve equitable access to healthcare. A systemic shift towards the establishment of Gender Risk Committees for health equity represents a comprehensive and deliberate approach to address gender-related disparities and risks within the healthcare system.

For gender risk committees to come to fruition in the healthcare space, healthcare organizations need to first start by acknowledging the existence of gender-related health disparities and the imperative to address them to achieve health equity – recognizing that gender intersects with various other social determinants of health, as well as developing and implementing policies at the organizational and systemic levels that emphasize a commitment to gender equity in healthcare.

By being included as a systemic approach towards health equity, Gender Risk Committees can work to reduce existing gender disparities, by developing strategies that address the root causes of gender-based inequities. These committees can promote cultural competence among healthcare providers. Understanding the unique healthcare needs of different genders, as well as gender identities and expressions, is essential for providing respectful, sensitive, and effective care.

Discrimination and bias based on gender can impact the quality of care provided. Gender risk committees can develop and implement anti-discrimination policies and training programs to address these issues and ensure that all patients are treated with respect and dignity. By addressing gender-related risks and disparities, healthcare organizations can provide patient-centered care that considers the unique needs and concerns of each patient, leading to better health outcomes.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of addressing gender-related disparities in healthcare. As awareness increases and evidence of the benefits of gender risk committees accumulates, more healthcare organizations are likely to take steps to establish such committees and promote gender equity in healthcare.

A systemic shift towards the establishment of Gender Risk Committees for health equity is an epoch-making catalyst towards a fundamental commitment to creating healthcare systems that prioritizes gender equity, reduces disparities, and ultimately promotes equitable access to high-quality healthcare for all, regardless of their gender.

Article by Judith Amolo

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