Alberta Womens Health Foundation refocuses the research – 660 News

EDMONTON ( 660 NEWS ) The Alberta Womens Health Foundation (AWHF) is a new force in Canadian womens health. Based out of Edmonton and operated by the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation (RAHF), the charity is one of three major womens health foundations in Canada. Their first campaign #RefocusTheResearch aims to shift the focus from womens looks to womens health.

Every year billions of dollars is dedicated to researching new innovative beauty products, says Sharlene Rutherford, President and CEO of RAHF. But less than one per cent of salary awards in Canada go towards womens health research.

Launched on International Womens Day 2021, the foundation is one of the collaborators on Womens Health Collective Canada.

This really allows Alberta to be a bigger player nationally in womens health research, says Rutherford. Now we can stand shoulder to shoulder with our sister foundations in Ontario and B.C.

Rutherford adds that we need to think of research as a prerequisite for improving care for women and girls.

If clinical care, and the experience inside of a doctors office is like the engine of a train, its research that is the track that lays down the path that clinical care takes.

Several conditions, like heart disease and osteoarthritis, affect more women than men. Despite this, it was not until the 1990s in Canada that it became mandatory for women to be included in medical research trials.

Research in womens health was done on men. The knowledge that came from that, if it was a medication they were looking at researching for example, they would adjust the levels for women, Rutherford says, giving the example of studies on sleeping aids. Theres been disastrous results from that. The levels werent adequate, there was actually too much.

Rutherford explains the best way to change this, is to put more money behind research into how different conditions and diseases present differently in women and men. Doctors failing to recognize symptoms in female paitents leads to hundreds of women being turned away from Albertan hospitals every year, only to return with a serious condition like a heart attack or stroke. This is because the symptoms of these conditions in women are lesser known than those in men.

When we invest in womens health research, the outcome is better care for women. So by ensuring that we have more funding for womens health research it means that the health of our mothers, daughters, sisters, and selves all improves over time.

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The gap in healthcare is not just gendered, there are several other factors that determine the quality of care that women receive. This includes race, age, and sexuality which Rutherford says will be a major focal point for the charity.

We know there is a big gap in knowledge in intersectional gender research as well. More work needs to be done in the area of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) women thats an area that the Alberta Womens Health Foundation will also focus on.

The Alberta Womens Health Foundation supports several research projects around the province. In Edmonton they fund research at the Women and Childrens Research Institute. In Calgary, they support the research done by the faculty of nursing at the University of Calgary. Rutherford says that AWHF also provides funding to Dr. Dawn Kingston, who specializes in perinatal research.

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Alberta Womens Health Foundation refocuses the research - 660 News

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