First Women\'s Health Action Plan Launched

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The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly launched the Women’s Health Action Plan 2022-2023, the first Women’s Health Action Plan published in Ireland.

The Action Plan was developed by the Department of Health in partnership with the HSE, the National Women and Infants Health Programme, the European Institute for Women’s Health, the Irish College of General Practitioners, and the National Women’s Council of Ireland through the work of the Women’s Health Taskforce.

The Action Plan sets out women’s priorities for women’s health. It is underpinned by the voices and perspectives of women, their advocates and women’s health professionals who have provided their insights and experiences through a range of listening projects and engagements undertaken by the Women’s Health Taskforce 2020-2021. The Action Plan responds to the important issues that women said they wanted to see, including quicker access to expert services, trusted sources of health information and improved experiences of healthcare.

It also provides a strategic framework to prioritise women’s healthcare into the future, identifying and responding to gaps in women’s health services while also working to improve women’s experiences of healthcare, including support for vulnerable groups and initiating opportunities for further research and innovation.

Women’s health is a top priority for this government and is strongly supported in Budget 2022 with €31 million additional funding for new developments in women’s health. This funding will enable:

  • €8.66 million additional funding for continued implementation of the National Maternity Strategy.
  • €9 million to fund access to contraception for women aged 17-25.
  • €5.3 million to grow access to “see and treat” gynaecology clinics (20 nationally); specialist menopause clinics (4 nationally); and specialist endometriosis services (2 nationally).
  • €5 million to bring the Women’s Health Fund to an investment of €10 million to support innovative new approaches to women’s health nationwide (illustrated in this Plan).

Launching the Action Plan, Minister Donnelly said, \”the Women’s Health Action Plan 2022-2023 is a landmark in open policy making – putting women at the heart of the policy making process. It will enable us to offer better and more timely care to women with tailored services across all age groups, increasing opportunities for women to become partners in their own healthcare. Today’s plan is the first of many, and a milestone in what is a long-overdue evolution in women’s health in Ireland. This plan is not finite and our conversations and engagement with women will continue to inform how we make progress.\”

Speaking at the launch Co-Chair of the Women’s Health Taskforce, Rachel Kenna, Chief Nursing Officer, Department of Health said, \”the Women’s Health Action Plan 2022-2023 is testament to the power of collaborative action. A community of voices have made this milestone possible, with women, their advocates, and the health professionals that treat them all contributing their expertise to inform this plan, working through the Women’s Health Taskforce and its members in the Department of Health, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Inclusion, and Youth, the Health Service Executive, the National Women and Infants Health Programme, the Institute for Public Health, the European Institute for Women’s Health, the Irish College of General Practitioners, and the National Women’s Council Ireland.\”

Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women\’s Council and member of the Women’s Health Taskforce welcomed the launch of the Action Plan, \”the Women’s Health Taskforce made the conscious decision to put women’s voices at the heart of health policy and implementation, and this Plan seeks to deliver on what many women shared through the ‘Radical Listening’ exercise – an ask for a person-centred and accessible health system, which works to meet women’s needs as they arise. This Plan provides strong steps towards building that future for women in Ireland and our task is now to drive forward these actions that will be the critical levers for delivering meaningful change.\”

Other actions from the plan include:

  • A new approach to menopause care, supported by 4 specialist clinics nationally.
  • A new partnership approach with Local Authorities to tackle period poverty.
  • A strong commitment to improve women’s experiences when they access services through changes to training and better information.
  • The first Maternity Bereavement Survey to understand the experiences of these families and how we can support them.
  • Legislation to strengthen the regulation of Assisted Human Reproduction.
  • Expanded endometriosis services for complex care.
  • Additional breastfeeding supports.
  • Expanded eating disorder services.

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