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EIWH Newsletter 1- 2016 key priorities

Logo of European Institute of Women's Health

Greeting from the EIWH
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Newsletter January 2016


Making the health of women and their families a priority across the European Union

As we start the New Year, we are very pleased to share some highlights from our work in 2015 and to provide you with an overview of some of our activities and projects in 2016. We will continue our work to improve the health of women and their families and campaign to reduce inequalities across the lifespan.  Further information on our activities and recent news can be found on our website .

Europe is undergoing significant demographic, social and economic changes. The impact of these changes on society at large and women, in particular, has not yet been fully understood. The poor, the socially excluded and minorities are particularly disadvantaged.  If Europe wants to guarantee a high level of health protection for all, health policy must anticipate and keep pace with these changes.

We wish to thank you for your continued interest in and support of our work.  Please let us know which areas you are most interested in and how we can further support your work in 2016.  We are currently remodeling our website, which will be utilised to provide updates on our work as well as the work of our Members.

Our Key Priorities for 2016

1.    Active and healthy ageing across the lifespan, including increasing healthy life      years
2.    Prevention of chronic diseases
3.    Health promotion with focus on combating smoking, drinking and obesity among women
4.    Maternal and infant health
5.    Integrating sex and gender into healthcare professional education
6.    Including sex and gender in medicines regulation
7.    Vaccination across the lifespan
8.    Social determinants of health
9.    Migrant and refugee health
10.  EIWH communications and membership expansion
11.   Continue our interaction on safe medicines use with the European Medicines Agency on the Patient and Consumer Working Party and with the ECDC on European Antibiotic Resistance Day and European Immunisation Week
12.   Celebrate 20 years of the European Institute of Women’s Health 1996-2016

Key Projects

European Gender Medicine: EUGenMed Project

The EIWH partnered with Charite Universitaetsklinik and Maastricht University in this two-year FP7  Research Project to produce a Roadmap for Implementation of Sex & Gender (S&G) into biomedical and health research and to create an open Gender Health Network.

The interaction of S&G related mechanisms leads to different manifestation of frequent diseases such as infarction, heart failure, diabetes and rheumatic disease in women and in men. Research in this area will
lead to novel, better targeted and therefore more effective and efficient treatment strategies.

The EIWH was responsible for two workshops on Medical Education and Medicines Regulations. Based on the scientific evidence collected by the project, the resulting roadmap with its recommendations will be communicated to the leading European bodies, biomedical research organisations, and a multi stakeholder
audience consisting of patient and health professional groups.

For more information, please click

Implementation of the EU Clinical Trials Regulation

The EIWH will continue its advocacy work on including women in biomedical research and clinical trials to ensure medicines are evidence based for women during the implementation of the new Clinical Trials Regulation.

Recent position papers have been written on Horizon 2020–Agenda for Women’s Health and the Clinical Trials Regulation, another position paper on Safe Medicines Use during Pregnancy will be released in 2016.

For more information, please click:

EU Vaccination Strategy and Communication

Despite past successes in elimination major infectious disease, the benefit of vaccination has become a neglected public health measure. Following the Italian Presidency conclusion of 2014, the EIWH highlighted the benefit of vaccination across the life-course and continues to advocate for the Commission and EU member states to develop a comprehensive life-course coordinated, vaccination strategy that is
supported by robust, coherent and evidence-based communication programmes to restore public trust in vaccination.

For more information, please click

ASSET Project (FP7)

The ASSET project (Action Plan on Science in Society in Epidemics and Total Pandemics) is a 48-month research project with the aim to address scientific and societal challenges raised by the occurrence of pandemics and epidemics.

The main objectives of ASSET are to (i) establish baseline knowledge about influenza epidemics and pandemics and their wider societal implications (ii) the extent of research and innovation into epidemics and pandemics (iii) the existing operational and regulatory environments across Europe.

The EIWH is leading several tasks including a literature review on sex/gender and vaccination, the setting up of a gender platform to create awareness among women and policy makers of the need for vaccination to prevent infectious diseases and to work with schools to develop communication tools to disseminate information on vaccination.

For more information, please click

Healthy Pregnancy

The EIWH has identified the safe use of medication during pregnancy as an unmet medical need. Europe lacks a robust and comprehensive regulatory and information system about safe medicines use during pregnancy and lactation. It is estimated that over 80% of pregnant women take medication.

However, there is little information available to determine the risk to both mother and child about the use of medicines during pregnancy. In order to improve maternal health, and subsequently the health of the future generation, reliable and up to date information must be made available to women who are planning pregnancy or are already pregnant in an easily accessible manner.

We will work with the European Board and College of Obstetricians and Gyneacologists (EBCOG) and other key stakeholders to bring this gap in public health to the attention of the policy makers and the European Medicines Agency.

We will highlight important issues, such as the recommendations from the EUROmediCAT Project for a comprehensive pharmacovigilance system on the safe use of medicines in pregnancy through our policy briefs, newsletters and meetings.

We will also continue our series on maternal health with a policy briefing on gestational diabetes,
including its impact on the future generation.

For more information, please click

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A dietary increase in potatoes can increase risk gestational diabetes

Dietary increase of potatoes risks gestational diabetes for pregnant women and babies.

Potatoes and pregnancy

Potatoes are widely consumed . Globally over 1 in 3 women in their reproductive years eat potatoes daily.  Their use is included in the UK in the “starchy food” group and recommended for consumption in the UK.

Researchers from Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Harvard University  carried out a study of the potato’s impact on pregnancy by followeing over 21,000 singleton pregnancies over a 10-year period. Data was taken from the US Nurses’ Health Study II (1991-2001). Participants had no previous gestational diabetes mellitus or chronic diseases. Diets were assessed with questionnaires every 4 years and  854 pregnancies, were affected by gestational diabetes.

After including control factors such as age, family history, diet quality in general, BMI and family history of diabetes, higher potato consumption before pregnancy was linked to  increased risks of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a major concern as it is associated with negative perinatal outcomes and raises long-term cardiometabolic risks for both mother and child.

The researchers acknowledge as the study was observational a cause and effect cannot be drawn, but the results may not surprise as unlike other vegetables, potatoes contain a high level of starch.  Its starch is quickly absorbed giving potatoes a high glycemic index. So meals high in potatoes can induce a glucose spike in the blood. The spike can cause oxidative stress to pancreatic beta cells and potentially exhaust these over time.

Previously potatoes were found to increase blood concentrations of fasting plasma glucose, insulin resistance and so the risk of type 2 diabetes. French fries, for instance, arry addiional risks of “degradation products from the frying oil and dietary advanced glycation end products that are generated during the frying process.”

These products were previously shown to increase risks of insulin resistance and diabetes. The present study’s authors conclude their report with some simple advice to minimize the potential risks.


Childcare for all is an equality issue

Cooperating with EU Institutions and Agencies: The EMA

Our cooperation with EU institutions and agencies: The EMA

European Medicines Agency (EMA)

The EIWH is a member of the Patient and Consumer Working Party of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). This group provides recommendations to EMA human scientific committees on all matters of interest to patients in relation to medicinal products.

The European Medicines Agency is the European Union (EU) body responsible for the scientific evaluation and approval of medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies. The EMA centrally reviews and approves innovative medicinal products, based on the clinical trial data supplied by the applicant organisation. This approval process is strictly defined and regulated by EU legislation. Once approved, the medicinal product receives a marketing authorisation for use in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA).

EMA interaction with patient and consumer organisations

The EMA Human Scientific Committees’ Working Party with Patients’ and Consumers’ Organisations (PCWP) was established in 2005 to provide recommendations to the EMA and its Human Scientific Committees on all matters of direct or indirect interest to patients in relation to medicinal products.

As users of the medicines patients and consumers have specific knowledge and expertise to offer. The EMA is committed to maintaining a strong relationship with these key stakeholders in the work of the Agency.

Why is the work of the EMA important to women?

Women are some of the heaviest users of medicines, starting early with birth control pills and across their lifespan as longevity champions. Additionally, due to women’s reproductive and caring role in society, women have a specific interest in, but also knowledge to offer about medicines use for themselves and their families.
For more information on the EMA and the Patient and Consumer Working Party  please click here. 

Other content on Mentioning European Medicine Agency

Student Scholarships, Summer 2016

Summer Student Scholarships 2016

( Training/Career Development)

Closing Date: 11 February 2016

Application Restrictions:
The Health Research Board invites applications for Summer Student Scholarships from undergraduate students in a health or social care-related discipline to support their participation in research during the summer months in 2016.

The purpose of the student scholarships is to encourage an interest in research and to give the student an opportunity to become familiar with research techniques.

All grant applications are made through the HRB Grants E-Management System (GEMS)

Nominated Host Institution will approve and submit each application on behalf of the applicant. Please make this a time consideration when preparing your grant application.

Who should apply?

Undergraduate students studying in a relevant discipline at a university /third level institute in Ireland but not in final year of their degree course and who have not previously received a Summer Student Scholarship from the HRB.

In line with the HRB strategy the project must fall within one of the following research areas:

  • patient oriented research,
  • health services research or
  • population health research

Applications that focus solely or predominantly on basic biomedical research are not eligible.

Value of the award?

The amount paid will be €250 per week for a maximum of 8 weeks and is paid to the student by the nominated Host Institution.

How to apply?

Online through the HRB GEMS online system

Read Applicant Guidance Notes and FAQ for further information.


Deadline for submission is Tuesday, 11 February 2016 at 13.00.

Related Documents:

Apply online for Summer Student Scholarships 2016

Summer Student Scholarship Guidance Notes 2016 (796 kB)

Summer Student Scholarship 2016 FAQ (264 kB)

Revenue Scholarship Declaration Form (42kB)

Open grants and fellowships

EU Funding opportunities

Contact HBB

Obesity – biggest threat to women’s health

Obesity should be treated as a “national priority”, chief medical officer warns.

Dame Sally Davies said women should be “empowered” to live healthier lives in her annual report, as she spoke of the risk to future generations.  She called for government to include obesity in its national risk planning – putting it the same category as terrorism, flooding and major outbreaks of disease.

Her report said over half of women aged 34 to 44 and almost two-thirds of women aged 45 to 54 were classified as overweight or obese in 2013.

  • 54% of women aged 34 to 44 classed as overweight or obese in 2013
  • 62% of women aged 45 to 54 were classified as overweight or obese in 2013

    “Action is required across all of society to prevent obesity and its associated problems from shortening women’s lives and affecting their quality of life.”We need to address the educational and environmental factors that cause obesity and empower women and their families to live healthier lives.”

    said Dame Sally Davies.

    She added that she wanted to “bust the myth” that women should eat for two during pregnancy.

    Research has shown that overweight pregnant women are more at risk of miscarrying and premature birth. Expectant mothers, she said, should focus on a healthy diet, exercise, not smoking and avoiding alcohol.

    “It is never too late to take action for a healthier lifestyle – for you and your family.”

    Figures from Public Health England show how obesity in men compares to women.

  • 62.1% of adults were classed as overweight or obese in 2013
  • 67.1% of men were overweight or obese in 2013
  • 57.2% of women were overweight or obese in 2013.

World AIDS Day 2015

World AIDS Day, 1st December 2015

Women and AIDS – a Growing Challenge

“The Time to Act is Now”

The European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) invites you to join forces on World AIDS Day to support the theme , “The Time to Act is Now” to help combat HIV/AIDS among women and increase awareness of the rising issue of HIV-infections among Women in Europe.

The number of women living with HIV has increased in all regions of the world in recent years. Globally, nearly half of the 37.2 million adults living with HIV are now women. (1)  HIV is a growing issue in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe where one of the steepest rises in HIV rates among women globally has occurred. (2)  Between 2000 and 2009, the number of individuals with HIV in Eastern Europe has nearly tripled.  Over the last decade, the rate of new HIV infections from heterosexual contact has increased by a staggering 150%. (3)

HIV is an increasing health concern for women in Eastern Europe.  The rate of women living with HIV compared to men is growing; in some Eastern European countries, the rate is up to 50%. For instance, in Russia, which has the highest rate of HIV in Europe, the number of young women aged 15-24 with HIV is twice that of men. (4,5,)

Studies have found that women who were on anti-retroviral therapy in Europe have lower HIV progression and HIV death rates than men. (6)  However, in regards to HIV transmission, women are more physically susceptible than men; the rate of male-to-female transmission during intercourse is about twice that of female-to-male transmission. (7)

Some progress has been made with regard to HIV in women in Eastern Europe. In  2010, 88% of pregnant women with HIV received treatment to prevent HIV transmission to their child. (8)  We must act now to stop HIV transmission during pregnancy to babies, our vulnerable next generation. Many challenges remain. Only by working together and linking prevention and treatment can we hope to reduce the number of women living with HIV-AIDS in Europe and across the world.

More efforts must be made to reduce sex and gender inequalities in HIV prevention, treatment and care.  The face of HIV in Europe is changing.  Women with HIV live longer than HIV-positive men.  Although their numbers are increasing as a proportion of the total population living with HIV, little data exists on older women and AIDS.  Studies that include older women do not have a large enough sample size to draw useful conclusions.  Research must be conducted stratifying for gender and age differences to best prevent and treat HIV-AIDS. (9)

1.  WHO. 2004. Number of women living with HIV increases in each region of world
2.  WHO. 2004
3.  UNAIDS 2012. HIV increasingly threatens women in East Europe and Central Asia.
4.  WHO. 2004
5. UNAIDS. 2012
6.   Mascoloni, M. 2011. Women With HIV Have Lower Mortality Than Men in Europe, But Not in North America.
7.   WHO. 2004.
8.   UNAIDS. 2012.
9.   Barbara Bertisch, Beatriz Grinsztejn and Alexandra Calmy. 2013. Antiviral therapy. “HIV-infected women in Europe: gender-specific needs and challenges.”

For more information, please visit:

European Institute of Women’s Health website
AIDS Action Europe website
European Commission HIV/AIDS Think Tank
European Commission report Combating HIV/AIDS in the European Union and neighbouring countries, 2009-2013
Strong HIV Empowered Women (SHE) website:
WHO World AIDS Day website

U.S. women catching up on drink!

U.S. women catch up on alcohol consumption.

American women are catching up on men’s drinking levels in using and abusing alcohol, a U.S. government report shows.

Data from 2002 to 2012 found that reported alcohol consumption in the previous 30 days rose among women, from almost 45 percent to more than 48 percent, but fell amongst men, from slightly more than 57 percent to just over 56 percent.

“We found that over that period of time, differences in measures such as current drinking, number of drinking days per month, reaching criteria for an alcohol use disorder, and driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year, all narrowed for females and males,”

said Aaron White, senior scientific advisor to the director of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), commenting

“Males still consume more alcohol, but the differences between men and women are diminishing,”


Celebrating World COPD Day 2015


 PRESS RELEASE  – For Immediate Release

Celebrating World COPD Day,  the European Institute of Women’s Health  highlights

it’s not too late to improve respiratory health in Europe

Since 2002,  World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day raises awareness and works to improve care of COPD through events and campaigns in over 50 countries on the 18th of November.

Supporting this year’s theme,  “It’s Not Too Late,” the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) is drawing attention to the steps all people in  Europe can take to improve COPD prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

What is it?

COPD is a term used for various chronic lung diseases that cause difficulty breathing and airflow obstruction, including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.

Who it effects?

COPD affects about 64 million people globally accounting for about 5% or 3 million deaths worldwide, and is the 5th highest cause of death in the world.  Nearly 90% of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries.  Almost half of people living with COPD don’t know they have it.

Between 4% and 10% of adults suffer from COPD in Europe.  In the last 20 years,COPD death increased by sixty-percent accounting for about 270,000 deaths in Europe in 2005 and  expected to reach 338,000 deaths by 2030.

COPD is not only debilitating for patients and their families, it is costly to all EU health care systems accounting for €4.7 billion in outpatient expenses and €2.9 billion in pharmaceutical expenditure each year.

COPD increasingly affects women and their families across the European Union (EU).  Historically, COPD has affected men more than women.  However it now affects EU men and women equally, because of the increasing rates of smoking amongst women.

Diagnosing COPD correctly in women can be challenging as the symptoms can often overlap with allergies or asthma,  and symptoms of COPD are also sometimes ignored.

Women with COPD are more likely than men to have shortness of breath and diminished airway sensitivity.

Women are also more likely to suffer from the emotional impact of COPD than men, with elevated rates of coexisting conditions like anxiety and/or depression.

Yet  women are generally diagnosed with COPD at later stages than men.

The primary cause of COPD, tobacco smoking, is highly preventable.  Alarmingly, women, particularly young girls, are increasingly smoking and vaping throughout the EU.  Recent studies suggest women are more vulnerable to developing COPD from smoking than are men.  Female smokers also have a higher rates of severe COPD and develop it later in life than male smokers.

As a result, women see greater benefit than do men from smoking cessation.

Concerted efforts must be made to reverse the alarming trend of smoking among women and young girls in EU to prevent COPD and other chronic diseases. Research must be funded to better understand the differences of COPD prevention, diagnosis and treatment between women and men.

We all must work together to develop comprehensive strategies for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COPD including gender sensitive guidelines for health professionals.

For more information, please contact:
The European Institute of Women’s Health, +353 86 822 5576,

Or please visit:


NICE issues first guideline on menopause

First menopause guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will launch its first clinical guideline on diagnosing and managing menopause on Tuesday 10 November 2015.

Menopause affects every woman sometime in her life and large numbers of them experience symptoms that impact significantly on their daily lives including hot flushes, night sweats, brittle bones and cardiovascular disease. The new guideline sets out how menopause should be diagnosed depending on a woman’s age, what information women should be given and the range of effective treatments that should be offered or considered based on her individual situation.

The guideline will help clarity the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), providing evidence-based information to inform the discussion between women and their health professionals about treatment options. It will give effective support and help for women under 40 experiencing premature menopause and those with a menopause triggered by treatment for hormone-dependent cancer or other gynaecological conditions.

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