In honour of International Women’s Day Workforce Healthcare highlight’s the top 5 health concerns for women.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of mortality for both men and women. But more concerning than death is premature death. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of women ‘dying young’, chiefly due to the fact that it’s under-diagnosed. Chest pain is considered the main symptom of heart diseases but especially in women, heart disease can manifest in other ways like jaw pain, shoulder ache, nausea, vomiting or shortness of breath. Moderate exercise and a balanced diet will help to prevent heart disease and regular health checks are essential for early detection.
2. Breast Cancer
Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer include: change in size and shape of your breasts, a lump on your breasts, a change in skin texture like mottling or a rash, inverted nipple and persistent pain in your chest or armpit. You know your body best so don’t ignore the signs, it’s important that you let your doctor know as soon as you detect a change in your body to ensure early diagnosis.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, because bone loss is gradual and painless, there are usually no symptoms to indicate a person is developing osteoporosis. This is why osteoporosis is often referred to as the silent disease. Often the first symptom of osteoporosis is a fracture. Most commonly, osteoporotic fractures occur at the spine, the wrist or the hip, although osteoporotic fractures can occur in other bones as well.
Depression is thought to affect more women than men. According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), common symptoms of depression include: persistent anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and negativity, insomnia, early morning waking or oversleeping, appetite loss or emotional eating, decreased energy/fatigue, persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment like headache, stomach and joint pain.
5. Autoimmune disorders
Autoimmune diseases are a group of disorders in which the immune system attacks the body and destroys or alters tissues. There are more than 80 serious chronic illnesses in this category, including lupus, multiple sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes.
It is not known what causes the body to turn on itself, but genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors are suspects. Symptoms are often hard to pinpoint but if you believe something may be amiss with your body, make multiple visits to the doctor or get second and third opinions if you have to.
World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died from AIDs.
To honour the day here are 5 facts about HIV:
- HIV can be transmitted in a number of ways like unprotected sexual intercourse, transfusions of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated injecting equipment and transmission between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
- There are several ways to prevent HIV like: practicing safe sex by using a condom and getting tested and treated for STDs like HIV. If you have HIV, start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible for your own health and the health of your sexual partner or infant.
- 36.7 million people are living with HIV worldwide. 1.8 million of these are children.
- HIV testing can help to ensure that people living with HIV get access to antiretroviral treatment. An estimated 40% of people with HIV remain undiagnosed and don’t know their infection status.
- HIV is the greatest risk factor for developing TB. In 2015, an estimated 1.2 million of the 10.4 million people who developed TB worldwide were HIV positive. In the same year approximately 390 000 deaths from tuberculosis occurred among people living with HIV.
Dr Richard Malkin, MD of Workforce Healthcare says that he cannot emphasise enough how serious HIV is in South Africa. “500 000 people die every year from AIDs and most of these people don’t know their status.”
This large amount of deaths can be avoided by accessing free treatment at state clinics. Once on treatment people can lead normal healthy lives.
“As a medical practitioner, looking after thousands of people in the workplaces around South Africa, where we’ve been dealing with HIV for over three decades, my conscience does not allow me to accept that over 500 000 people are dying,” Malkin says. “We need to re-look at how HIV is being dealt with in our country as I believe that this is not acceptable.”
Source: World Health Organisation
16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is a global campaign to raise awareness, which runs from 25 November to 10 December. This period includes Universal Children’s Day and World Aids Day.
South Africa’s theme this year is: “Count me in: together moving a non-violent South Africa forward”.
In the spirit of standing together towards a non-violent South Africa, here are some places of safety where you can seek help if you are in an abusive situation.
People Opposed to Woman Abuse, or Powa
Powa provides counselling, both telephonically and in person, temporary shelter for and legal help to women who have experienced violence.
Run by LifeLine Southern Africa, Stop Gender Abuse offers crisis counselling for women who have been raped or abused. It also gives advice and support to people who wish to help women who are in need of help, and gives legal and other options available.
This non-profit organisation helps abused children and their families. It deals with issues such as physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, behavioural problems and trafficking, and gives legal advice.
Child Welfare South Africa focuses on child protection, child care and family development. Neglect and child abuse can also be reported.
In addition to these places of safety, Workforce Healthcare’s EAP call-centre is manned by qualified counselors who will find victims of abuse the help they need. Workforce Healthcare also runs onsite workshops to address the effects of abuse, bullying and violence.