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Women's Health

OHPE Bulletin #34.1 December 19, 1997

A. Introduction
The Ontario Women's Health Network Project(s) receive funding!
B. Canadian Women's Health Network
C. Centres of Excellence in Women's Health program
Framework on Women's Health
National Network on Environments & Women's Health
D. Women's College Hospital Affiliated Programs
Centre for Research in Women's Health
Regional Women's Health Centre
Bay Centre for Birth Control
Body Image Program
Environmental Health Clinic
E. Peterborough Women's Health Care Centre
F. St. Joseph's Women's Health Centre [Toronto]

The recent initiation and development of the Ontario Women's Health Network project and many of the resources and relationships that the emerging Steering Committee has shared have stimulated this important topic. As well, the July 4-6th Gender and Health Promotion Research conference in Halifax, reported in this Bulletin in late July offered new perspectives and thinking on women's health concerns, and highlighted some exciting resources and papers. The newly formed Centres for Excellence in Women's Health (described below) and the Canadian Women's Health Network contributed to an energizing of activity around the issues of women's health. We look forward to more news and developments throughout Ontario in 1998.

The Ontario Women's Health Network (OWHN) project recently began as an initiative of several women's health organizations. The long-term goal of the Network is to establish structure and sustainability for an Ontario Women's Health Network, through regional networking, organization of a provincial conference on women's health priorities and issues, and the development of a comprehensive and widely accessible database of women's health services and resources.
Funding by Health Canada - Ontario Regional Office has recently been approved for three short-term and inter-related women's health projects - Regional Networking; Resource Inventory and Women's Cancers Resources. The Regional Networking Project was described in OHPE Bulletin #30 with the job posting for the provincial coordinator, and the host organization, DAWN-Ontario is described in the next message of this bulletin. The Resources Inventory project is described in the earlier message of this bulletin (#34.0) in the job posting for the project coordinator. The Ontario Women's Cancer Project consists of seven distinct projects, which will help to develop women's skills and knowledge with respect to various women's cancers. These are:
* Cancer Awareness for Women with Disabilities
* Responding to the Death of a Group Member: A Workshop for Women Active in Breast Cancer Support Groups
* Needs Assessment and Resource Booklet for Women with Gynecological Cancers
* Resources on Breast Cancer, Highlighting Links to DES; Resources to assist Women Making Decisions About Hysterectomy
* Breast Cancer and Environment Resource Package
* Special Print Supplements About Breast Cancer and Environmental Links

The OWHN Steering Committee has been working collaboratively on the development of these projects. We welcome the participation of women's health groups and organizations from around the province in various facets of the different projects. We particularly welcome the involvement of women from First Nations and immigrant women's organizations and women from outside the Greater Toronto Area. For further information or to get involved with the Projects, contact at the following toll-free numbers:

1) for Resource Inventory Project: Alison Stirling, 1-800-263-2846
2) for Regional Networking Project: Deb Ullman, 1-800-561-4727
3) for Women's Cancer Project: Chris Sinding, 1-888-778-3100

[ e-mail]

The Canadian Women's Health Network (CWHN) was officially launched in May, 1993, by result of the generous dedication of health care workers, educators, advocates, consumers and other Canadians committed to sharing information, resources and strategies to better women's health. The Canadian Women's Health Network is a network of individuals, groups, organization, and institutions concerned with women's health. The CWHN recognizes the importance of information sharing, education and advocacy on women's health and works to build and strengthen the women's health movement in Canada and throughout the world.

Here's what we strive to do:
* Provide easier access to health information, resources and research
* Produce user-friendly materials and resources
* Promote and develop linkages to information and action networks
* Provide forums for critical debate
* Act as a "watchdog" on emerging issues and trends that may affect women's health
* Work to change inequitable health policies and practices
* Advocate for community-based participatory research models
* Promote women's involvement in health research.

Programs include:
The CWHN Newsletter "Network" quarterly bilingual publication
Electronic Networking - an online database, chat groups and linkages with other sites.
Clearinghouse Services gathering and cataloguing a collection of women-centered, health-related resources and a useful database of groups, coalitions, organizations, resources, newsletters, conferences and articles accessible through the CWHN website.

For more information contact: executive coordinator Madeline Boscoe; c/o Women's Health Clinic; Second floor, 419 Graham Avenue; Winnipeg Manitoba R3C 0M3.
Tel: (204) 947-2422 ext 134; Fax (204) 943-3844

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Women's Health - A Definition
The concept of women's health is derived from three important ideas: (1) what constitutes health ?; (2) what factors
influence health ?; and, (3) how does gender, as opposed, or at least in addition, to biological sex, influence health ?

The Women's Health Interschool Curriculum Committee of Ontario has provided an important definition of women's health:
"Women's health involves women's emotional, social, cultural, spiritual and physical well- being, and it is determined by the social, political and economic context of women's lives as well as by biology. This broad definition recognizes the validity of women's life experiences and women's own beliefs about and experiences of health. Every woman should be provided with the opportunity to achieve, sustain and maintain health, as defined by that woman herself, to her full potential." (Susan Phillips, "The Social Context of Women's Health: Goals and Objectives for Medical Education", Canadian Medical Association Journal, Feb. 15, 1995; 152(4), p.507)

The Determinants of Health
The definition of women's health cited above exemplifies a determinants approach to understanding health. The determinants literature takes as its starting point the premise that health care and the treatment of illness and disease is only one of the factors affecting health status. Human biology and genetic endowment, the physical environment, the social and economic environment (including individual responses to it), operating individually and in combination, are equally, if not more important factors.
It is beyond the scope of health providers and health departments to directly control many of these determinants. However, health policy and programs should be based on an understanding of how these determinants affect health on an individual and population-wide basis and should address and help ameliorate the adverse affects of some of these determinants.

The Role of the Centres of Excellence for Women's Health
Many of the failures and deficiencies of the health system in terms of its responsiveness of women and women's health
reflect inadequate attention to gender dimensions of health by policy-makers at all levels.

It is anticipated that the Centres of Excellence will be able to address many of the issues and areas requiring further
investigation noted above. To do so in a meaningful way will require the following:
* agreement on high priority concepts and issues requiring further work;
* grounding of issues in the practical experience of Canadian women;
* collaboration among researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and organizations in many parts of the country;
* wide dissemination of findings and conclusions;
* elaboration of policy implications of work undertaken.

For further information contact: WOMEN'

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National Network on Environments and Women's Health - a Centre of Excellence for Research in Woman's Health

The National Network on Environments and Women's Health (NNEWH) is one of five federally funded Centres of Excellence for women's health that have received research funding from 1996 to 2002. A Canada-wide network of academics and non-governmental health organizations located at York University, Toronto. Research at NNEWH explores the impact of three key environments on women's health: Workplaces; Health Systems; and Policy.
NNEWH's environmental approach involves working in collaboration with community-based organizations to make the research relevant to the realities of women's lives.

For further information contact
Gina Feldberg, NNEWH, Centre for Health Studies, York University
4700 Keele Street, 214 York Lanes, North York ON M3J 1P3
Tel (416) 736-5941. Fax 416-736-5986 E-mail

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The Centre for Research in Women's Health (CRWH) was founded in September 1995, and is a partnership of Women's College Hospital (WCH) and the University of Toronto (UT). The CRWH is a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Womens Health Partner.

Mission Statement: The Centre is committed to conducting and fostering women's health research which is relevant to women's lives, and to promoting its application in diverse communities. The CRWH will encourage and facilitate interaction among investigators from a
broad spectrum of disciplines including the social sciences, physical sciences, humanities and the life sciences.

The CRWH has been fortunate to be able to build on the established research strengths of Women's College Hospital. The following research themes capture the scope of current and future activities at the CRWH:
Cancers Affecting Women
Breast Cancer; Skin Cancer; Melanoma; Gynecological Cancers; Lung Cancer
Women and Aging
Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis; Cardiovascular; Aging (Social Aspects); Menopause;
Diabetes; Disabilities; Dermatology
Addiction & Drug Therapy; Adverse Drug Reactions; Appropriate Drug Therapy
Womens Mental Health
Post-traumatic Stress; Addictions; Affective Disorders; Suicidology
Reproductive Health
Perinatal Epidemiology; Family Planning and Fertility Technologies; STDs
Violence Against Women
Sexual Assault; Domestic Violence; Abuse; Sexual Harrassment

The Centre for Research in Women's Health
790 Bay Street, 7th Floor, Suite 747
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1N8
Tel: (416) 351-3732 Fax: (416) 351-3746
E-mail: crwh.research@utoronto.

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790 Bay St.
Floor: 8
Tel: (416) 586-0211
* provide women of various ages and backgrounds with programs and services designed to meet their special needs
* services available without OHIP or health insurance
* nominal charges may be made for birth control devices, medications and other special materials
* exceptions will be made for users who are economically disadvantaged

790 Bay Street
Tel: (416) 351-3700
* birth control, pregnancy, abortion, HIV, STD and related sexual health issues
* open 6 days a week and 3 evenings
* appointments are preferred

The Body Image Program
790 Bay Street
Tel: (416) 586-0211
* education and counseling services on various eating disorders, body image problems and body image dissatisfaction
* appointment is necessary

Environmental Health Clinic
76 Grenville Street
Floor: 5
Tel: (416) 351-3764
* assess persons with environmental sensitivity disorders and to achieve a better understanding of their health care needs
* through participation in clinical research
* doctor's referral is required

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The Women's Health Care Centre was established as a department of Peterborough Civic Hospital in 1988 with funding from the Institutions
Branch of the Ministry of Health. We provide health information, support, counselling and treatment for women in the city of Peterborough and the counties of Northumberland, Haliburton, Victoria and Peterborough from our clinical space in the hospital and also from our downtown site at 411 Water Street. We provide outreach to the four counties by working with locally based women's organizations. The Women's Health Care Centre also coordinates the Sexual Assault Response Programme at Peterborough Civic Hospital.

We have an active Community Advisory Board and a number of committees
which contribute significantly to the planning and evaluation of Centre
programmes and services, and also provide valuable linkages with a range of community groups. Much of our work which addresses women's health issues at a community level is done in partnership with other community agencies and groups.

For more information about the Women's Health Care Centre, please...

Visit our website at or
Phone (705) 743-4132 or 1-800-419-3111 (from area codes 705 and 905) or
Fax to (705) 743-6577

Submitted by Jane Bremner, Director

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The Women's Health Centre promotes the health of women through practical and emotional support, education, counselling and referral in the following areas: maternal support, mental health, multicultural health education, community development and advocacy.

Services provided/available:
* One-to-one counselling
* Mutual support groups for mental health needs identified by women (clients)
* Post partum depression support groups
* Crisis support and referral for abused women
* Prenatal nutrition and support for low-income families
* Health Promotion workshops addressing immigrant/refugee needs
* Health Promotion materials in different languages
* Quarterly newsletter on Women's Health issues
* Community Economic Development support
* Individual and collective advocacy on women's health issues
* Child care for Women's Health Centre programs and others

For more information please contact:
Women's Health Centre - St. Joseph's Health Centre
30 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M6R 1B5
Tel: (416) 530-6850 Fax 416-530-6629
[submitted by Alejandra Priego]