Knowledge is not just power, it is empowerment. That is especially true when it comes to women and their health. It is what inspired Amgen Canada to launch the Her Health First campaign, an initiative that will shine the spotlight on the most critical issues in women’s health, to coincide with World Osteoporosis Day on October 20.
It is a critical time for such an endeavour. The ongoing pandemic has caused some women to delay or cancel their routine health checks, from breast and cervical cancer screenings to routine physicals. Data indicates that women have fared much worse during a pandemic than men, largely due to long-existing inequalities and social disparities. Compounding the impact is that women in caregiving roles have experienced more challenges in being able to care for themselves and prioritize their own health needs.
As part of Her Health First campaign, findings will be released of a global survey of 2,000 women, including 300 Canadian women ages 30 and over, that assessed the understanding of risk factors for common health issues and the factors that prompt action. The results were revealing. It showed a knowledge gap around key issues such as osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer, which some health experts fear may spark a post-pandemic secondary healthcare crisis.
Furthermore, the survey found that, while women are aware of the risk factors for some common health conditions, this does not translate into specific actions necessary for women to address the need for early diagnosis and treatment. The findings suggest few women are talking to one another about these health issues, risk factors and screening. It’s unfortunate because such discussions have shown to motivate women to take preventative steps and advocate for their health.
“Amgen has long been committed to improving women’s health worldwide,” said Dr. Suna Avcil, executive medical director, Amgen Canada. “Our recent survey has shown that women understand some of the basics about health but do not know enough about the tools available to translate this knowledge into action. Through Her Health First, we’re committed to helping women take the right steps towards safeguarding their health, and to fostering discussions among women – in their families, their social groups, and across generations.”
The Her Health First campaign is hoping to ramp up the conversation about women’s health by raising awareness, through education, and by offering educational tools and reliable information through the HerHealthFirst.ca website. Women will also be encouraged to participate in the Health First Challenge, which has three pillars – staying active, eating a balanced diet and putting health first by adopting new habits and using the opportunity to speak about health with friends and family. For example, the initiative will urge women to try a new physical activity that will help improve their heart health, then invite them to post pictures and videos via social media using the hashtag, #HerHealthFirst.
“women understand some of the basics about health but do not know enough about the tools available to translate this knowledge into action.”
– Dr. Suna Avcil
Strategic partnerships will also help to spread the word, including one with Canadian social media influencer Sarah Habibi. She will use her platforms (@science.bae) to spread the word, including an exercise-themed TikTok video, along with an Instagram story and video. As an Ontario-certified teacher and the holder of a PhD in molecular biology, Habibi has a passion for education and is keen to engage her followers on important wellness topics relevant to women, like bone health and exercise.
YouAreUNLTD, an organization devoted to dynamic aging and longevity, will be working with Amgen to disseminate important information about the campaign to women in Canada. “We know that women today juggle many roles and responsibilities and oftentimes, overlook their own health,” said Anne Marie Wright, co-founder of YouAreUNLTD. “Amgen’s Her Health First campaign reminds women to prioritize and safeguard their health and well-being.”
There are many ways that women can support the goals of Her Health First campaign, including the idea that good health means starting a conversation. An ideal place for women to start the journey is HerHealthFirst.ca, a hub for information and educational tools designed to protect their health as well as the women in their lives. And finally, women are encouraged to speak with their doctors about actions they can take to prevent diseases, like cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease.
Osteoporosis alone causes more than 8.9 million fractures per year, equivalent to a rate of a fracture every three seconds. About 80 per cent of those individuals who break a bone are neither identified with or treated for osteoporosis. Unfortunately, there’s a gap between awareness and action around the disease. Though a recent survey found more than three out of four women recognized that bone density scans are an important/very important for understanding bone health, just 43 per cent of respondents said they have had one and 30 per cent of women had not discussed the topic with their doctor.
This underscores the need for an educational campaign like Her Health First. Knowledge equals empowerment and highlights a path for women to taking charge of their health.
Supported through sponsorship by Amgen Canada Inc.