Treating mental health problems in pregnant women


Embargo 00:01 GMT Wednesday 17 December 2014

Safely treating mental health problems in women before,during and after pregnancy


The NHS UK guidance bodyce says women who have experienced or at risk of mental health problems need extra support before, during and after their pregnancy.

In a comprehensive update of the clinical management of antenatal and postnatal mental health, women are at greater risk of mental health problems during and after pregnancy, and the effect for families can last for a long time. Around 12% of women experience depression and 13% experience anxiety at some point, while many women will experience both.

Depression and anxiety disorders affect 1 in 5 women in the first year after childbirth. The range of  disorders which women may experience include depression, panic disorder,  generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and tokophobia (an extreme fear of childbirth), eating disorders, substance misuse, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with an increased risk of psychosis in the weeks after childbirth (post-partum psychosis).

More information is available on drugs used to treat mental health problems during pregnancy and on stopping medication. More is known about detecting mental health problems in mothers and pregnant women.

The update will help doctors, nurses, health visitors and midwives to identify mental health problems in mothers and pregnant women.  It also offers guidance on the most appropriate drugs or other treatments to offer safely to mother and child. The guideline will also help women who have had mental health problems understand what help should be made available for them if they are planning to have a baby. It also states that women and their partners, who have had a traumatic experience such as a very difficult birth, should be offered extra support and makes clear recommendations about what should be offered to mothers who have suffered a miscarriage or whose baby is still-born.  …more

US: Science community to focus on sex !


Science community to focus on sex

Has 2014 reached its potential to be a big year by realising equality in women’s health research and care?

Do let us know!

Attention to sex differences by the (National Institutes of Health (NIH) director will go a long way toward encouraging the basic science community to focus on sex as an important variable in the earliest steps of the discovery process. … more

World Aids Day – Dec 2014


Globally, almost half of people living with HIV/AIDS are women

HIV/AIDS was considered a disease predominantly affecting men, however, this is no longer the case.  According to WHO/UNAIDS’ latest global estimate, women make up over 50% of the people infected with HIV, rising to 60% in sub-Sahara Africa.[ UN AIDS. 2012a. Global Factsheet: World AIDS Day 2012.  http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_FactSheet_Global_en.pdf ] Globally, HIV is the leading cause of death and disease in women of reproductive age.

HIV has become a growing health concern for women in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe, where one of the steepest rises in HIV rates among women in the world has occurred.[ WHO. 2004. Number of women living with HIV increases in each region of the world. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2004/pr_unaids/en/]  The proportion of women living with HIV has been increasing in the last 10 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) cites gender inequalities as a key driver of the epidemic in women.[ WHO. 2013. Gender inequities and HIV. http://www.who.int/gender/hiv_aids/en/.], [ UNAIDS. 2012b. HIV increasingly threatens women in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2012/march/20120312alaskerwomeneeca/]  .

Their biological make-up and society’s gender norms, make women and girls more susceptible than men to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. According to the WHO report, gender inequalities in HIV are a key driver of the epidemic in several ways:[ WHO. 2013. Gender inequities and HIV. ],[ Ibid.] Violence against women (physical, sexual and emotional), which is experienced by 10 to 60% of women (ages 15-49 years) worldwide, increases vulnerability to HIV. Women who fear or experience violence often lack the power to ask their partners to use condoms or refuse unprotected sex.  Fear of violence can prevent women from learning and/or sharing their HIV status and accessing treatment.

Most HIV infection in children results from mother-to-child transmission (MTCT).

If pregnant women with HIV do not receive drug treatment during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum, it is estimated that in 25% of cases, their infants will acquire HIV. However, with a multi-care approach to pregnancy and delivery, the likelihood of HIV transmission to the infant is reduced to less than 2%.  Specifically, the risk of HIV transmission during childbirth is 10-20% if no prevention is undertaken.  Approximately 15% of babies born to HIV-positive women will become infected if they breastfeed for 24 months or longer.[ Colin Tidy. 2011. “Management of HIV during pregnancy.” ], [ American Pregnancy Association. 2007. HIV/AIDS during Pregnancy. ]

Strategies for HIV testing vary across Europe, but widespread, unacceptably high rates of late diagnosis among women suggests that current testing strategies are not adequately reaching the female population.[ Johnson M, Afonina L, Haanyama O. 2013 “The challenges of testing for HIV in women: experience from the UK and other European countries.” Antivir Ther. 18(2):19-25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23784671. ]  Research has found, for example, that women miss chances for HIV testing more than men and are more impacted by the potential negative effects of HIV testing such as the disclosure to partners.

Globally, almost half the people living with HIV/AIDS are women.  However, historically, women have been underrepresented in clinical trials for HIV/AIDS medications, making it difficult to draw conclusions on gender-based differences with regard to HIV treatment efficacy and effectiveness.  Lack of scientific research makes fighting HIV more difficult in women than in men.   For example, in the 18 randomised controlled trials of new HIV drugs submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2000 and 2008, only 15% of patients enrolled were women.  Women from minority and ethnic groups have been particularly underrepresented in trials.

Support must be given to end sex and gender-based violence, which often is associated with the transmission of HIV to women.[ Ibid. ]  Poverty frequently impedes HIV treatment, as therapies are expensive.   Women with limited financial resources are especially susceptible.  In comparison to men, women are more likely to be excluded from health plans.  Women often put the needs of their families over their own health needs, negatively impacting effective treatment.[ Canadian AIDS Society. 2013. Women and HIV/AIDS: Treatment Issues. ]


Download HIV-AIDS_press release here!

Peggy Maguire, Director General, peg@eurohealth.ie
Hildrun Sundseth, hildrun@eurohealth.ie

EU Cancer stats for 2011

2011 figures for causes of cancer death in the EU28


New cancer statistics from Eurostat.

Causes of cancer death in the EU28 in 2011

1 in 4 deaths caused by cancer in the EU28

Lung cancer main fatal cancer

In the EU28 in 2011, cancer was the cause of death1 for 1.281 million persons, responsible for more than a quarter of all deaths (26.3%).  Over the past ten years, while the total number of deaths slightly decreased (-0.5%), the number of deaths due to cancer increased by 6.3% (from 1.206 million in 2002 to 1.281 million in 2011), at a slightly higher pace for females (+6.6%) than for males (+6.0%).  However, the number of deaths due to cancer remained higher in 2011 among the male population (718 000 deaths due to cancer) than among the female population (563 000). In 2011, cancer represented 37.1% of all causes of death for the EU28 population aged less than 65, while this level was only 23.8% for the older population (those aged 65 years and over).

Leading to the death of over 266 000 persons (or 20.8% of all deaths due to cancer), lung cancer was the main type of fatal cancer in the EU28 in 2011, followed by colorectal cancer (152 000 or 11.9%), breast cancer (93 000 or 7.2%), pancreas cancer (78 000 or 6.1%) and prostate cancer2 (73 000 or 10.2% of all fatal cancers for the male population only).

Information by Eurostat.

EU Cancer stats for 2011

Cancer: responsible for nearly 40% of deaths among those aged less than 65, and under 25% amongst those aged 65 and over
Among the total population, cancer was in 2011 the cause of more than 30% of deaths in the

Netherlands (31.9%), Slovenia (31.3%) and Ireland (30.5%), while it represented less than a fifth of all causes of death in Bulgaria (15.6%), Romania (19.1%) and Lithuania (19.9%). At least a quarter of deaths were due to cancer in seventeen Member States in 2011.  Looking at age groups, 345 000 persons aged less than 65 died in 2011 in the EU28 because of cancer, meaning that cancers represented more than a third (37.1%) of all causes of death for this age group. Among Member States, death due to cancer for people aged less than 65 accounted for more than 40% of all causes of death in the Netherlands (48.0%), Italy (45.2%), Spain (43.9%) and Slovenia (40.9%), but less than 30% in Lithuania (23.2%), Latvia (24.2%), Estonia (26.3%), Bulgaria (26.7%) and Finland (28.4%). For the population aged 65 and over, cancer represented almost a quarter (23.8% or 936 000 persons) of all causes of deaths in the EU28 in 2011, with the highest shares registered in Slovenia (28.8%), Ireland (28.4%), the Netherlands (28.3%), Denmark (27.6%) and the United Kingdom (27.2%), and the lowest in Bulgaria (12.3%)
and Romania (15.2%)

Deaths due to cancer in the EU28 Member States, by age group, 2011
(absolute numbers & shares in total causes of death)
Death by cancer in EU28  by age group, 2011  Figures may not add up due to deaths of unknown age

cancer by type and sex
Highest proportion of both fatal lung cancer and colorectal cancer in Hungary
In all Member States, the most prevalent cancer leading to death in 2011 was lung cancer, except in Portugal where it was colorectal cancer.  The highest proportions of lung cancer among all deaths due to cancer were recorded in Hungary (26.1%), the Netherlands (24.6%), Belgium (24.5%) Greece and Poland (both 24.1%), and the lowest in Portugal (14.5%), Sweden (16.7%), Latvia (16.8%), Lithuania and Slovakia (both 17.1%). Compared with 2002, the proportions of
lung cancer among all deaths due to cancer increased in fourteen Member States, decreased in ten and remained almost stable in Slovenia and Finland.

In 2011, the highest proportions of deaths due to colorectal cancer among all deaths due to cancer were registered in Hungary (15.5%), Slovakia (15.3%), Portugal (15.0%), Croatia (14.7%) and Spain (14.6%). On the opposite end of the scale, colorectal cancer represented less than 10% of all deaths due to cancer in Cyprus (7.9%), Greece (8.9%) and Finland (9.8%).

Highest proportion of fatal prostate cancer in the Nordic Member States
Prostate cancer represented in 2011 the fifth main type of fatal cancer in the EU28, with a 5.7% share in all deaths due to cancer. Prostate cancer however only affects men, for whom it caused 10.2% of all deaths due to cancer in 2011 in the EU28.

Among Member States, the highest shares were observed in the three Nordic Member States: Sweden (11.0% of deaths due to cancer in the total population, and 20.9% of all deaths due to cancer among the male population), Denmark (7.9% and 15.1%) and Finland (7.6% and 14.4%).
On the contrary, shares of less than 5% of all deaths due to cancer in the total population were recorded in Hungary (3.7% of deaths due to cancer in the total population, and 6.7% of all deaths due to cancer among the male population), Malta (4.0% and 7.4%), Romania (4.1% and 6.9%), Poland (4.4% and 7.9%), Italy (4.5% and 8.0%), Luxembourg (4.7% and 8.6%), the Czech Republic (4.8% and 8.7%) and Slovakia (4.9% and 8.4%).

Deaths due to cancer in the EU28 Member States, by main type of cancer, 2002 and 2011 (respective shares in total fatal cancer)
EU28_cancer_2002-2011:  not available
*  Share of prostate cancer in cancer deaths of the total population i.e. males and females.
** Belgium: 2003 data instead of 2002; Cyprus: 2004 data instead of 2002. Poland: data on lung  cancer for 2005 instead of 2002.

1. Eurostat collects statistics on the causes of death according to a list of 86 different causes of death. The list is available here 2. Prostate cancer only occurs for males. Issued by: Eurostat Press Office, Vincent BOURGEAIS Tel: +352-4301-33 444 eurostat-pressoffice@ec.europa.eu For further information about the data: Anke WEBER Tel: +352-4301-31 440 anke.weber@ec.europa.eu

€69bn per year = Gender violence!


MEP’s call for action on violence against women.

After the recent International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, EU members of parliament’s women’s rights and gender equality committee urged all member states to adopt tougher, more harmonised legislation against gender based violence.

Iratxe García Pérez, Chair of the Committee said “Seven women a day are murdered in Europe as a result of violence”. which she saw as a consequence of sustaining an “unfair society that has allowed one part of society to believe they own another part of society”.  The Spanish MEP pointed out that “the citizenry at large cannot understand that we can reach an agreement to save banks but we can’t reach an agreement to save lives”

She called for drafting of a gender based violence directive and “an integrated policy” for related “prevention, treatment, police measures and legal and economic measures”.

García Pérez wants “2016 to be declared the European year against gender violence”.

Vĕra Jourová, commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, stated that “violence against women affects society as a whole… – the direct cost of violence against women is €69bn per year”, so making economic sense for the EU to tackle the issue.  She said the commission is currently working on a “strategy for equality between men and women with a chapter against gender-based violence”.  Cyber violence and harassment will also be addressed in the strategy which must also include actions including men in combating gender-based violence.

She further explained that “our action must be steady, coherent and based on several pillars – legislation, awareness raising, funding as well as improving funding and data collection”. The way forward is “to more effectively use existing tools instead of creating new ones”.

The commissioner also urged member states to “ratify the Istanbul convention as soon as possible”. This convention was introduced by the Council of Europe in 2012 and so far has only been ratified by eight member states.

Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio called for a “safer and fairer Europe – we owe this to the women that have been killed, to their children and their families that are still mourning them”, adding,

” The perpetration of gender-based violence “is a problem of education and we must generate awareness among men – it is men who should fight against this appalling problem, more so than women”.

Ernest Urtasun urged parliament to “denounce the fact that we don’t have a specific legislative instrument at EU level”.

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, a vice-chair of parliament’s ALDE group, said “Europe needs all of its member states to find legal and ethical common ground”.

She complained that “there is a lack of unity against sexist violence – this is a product of inequality deeply rooted in the subconscious of many Europeans”.

Catherine Bearder agreed with this point, saying “these issues cannot be seen in isolation bur rather in part of a larger problem – society’s attitude towards women”.

Iliana Iotova, a vice-chair of parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, called for legislation not only protect the victims, but also prevents these crimes.

Biljana Borzan emphasised that “we need to put an end to the culture of silence where victims are ashamed – perpetrators need to be ashamed, as well as the commission”.

No gender equality for EU business?


No to gender equality on company boards and extending maternity leave

EU legislation to ensure gender equality on company boards and others to extend maternity leave and reduce air pollution and landfill should be killed off, a leading business lobby organisation has told the European Commission.

A BusinessEurope communication to Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans   contains a hit list of five pending bills, including the EU’s Circular Economy package, that it wants ditched by the executive.

Download BusinessEurope’s statement here.

The statements says proposals are “damaging to the competitiveness of European companies”, and “should be withdrawn”, the paper, which hyad not been public and dated 20 November, said. Trade unions and environmental campaigners have strongly criticised BusinessEurope’s recommendations.

Timmermans has a mandate from Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to cut red tape and deliver better regulation.  He is currently analysing about 130 pieces of pending legislation left over from the Barroso Commission to decide which, if any, should be dropped.

The targeted proposals are:

  • Gender balance on boards;
  • Revisions to the Safety and Health of Pregnant Workers Directive;
  • The reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants

It will be interesting to see what reaction comes forward from women’s, family and health group representatives.




First Minister intends to fight for gender equality


Ms Sturgeon has strongly indicated that she intends to fight for gender equality as Scotland’s first female First Minister, she is also expected to give top jobs to women.

Shona Robison, the Commonwealth Games minister, and Angela Constance, who, like Mr Brown, stood unsuccessfully for the SNP deputy leadership, could find themselves with new jobs.  Ms Robison may be given the health brief at the expense of Alex Neil, while some have suggested Mike Russell could make way for Ms Constance at education.



Conference: “Spring forward for women”


Spring forward women’s conference, 5 Nov 2014.

Co-organised by UN women and the European Commission, takes place from 9:00 to 18:30 and will be hosted by the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee of the European Parliament. The conference aims to bring together women parliamentarians from the Arab States region and members of the European Parliament to foster expertise, experience sharing and networking around key issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment in both the European Union and the Arab States region. The programme is awaited.

Women’s health in the European Community


State of women’s health in European Community

A report in 8 sections giving an overview women’s health in the European Community (EC)

It  examines main causes of mortality and morbidity at different phases of women’s lives as well as individual and social determinants influencing women’s health within the context of evolving demographic and social trends.  Main data is drawn from a range of resources sources include the World Health Organization’s Health for All (HFA) database, various reports and data , some of which could be considered dated.

The data obtained is limited and topics covered defined by this shortcoming. The report focuses on women aged 15 years and up as most gender specific health data at the EC level are based on this age group. …more

AG Rumpie





image of women

Conference on Women’s health: a life course approach



Ministerial Conference on Women’s health: a life course approach, Rome, 2 – 3 Oct 2014 Auditorium, Ministry of Health – Viale Giorgio Ribotta 5


The Ministerial Conference on “Women’s health: a life-course approach” will take place under the auspices of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Policies for promoting the health of women across their lifespan represent actions aimed at improving the health of the entire population. It will be an opportunity to discuss, compare and share experiences on this issue among the 28 Member States in order to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment strategies.  According to the principle of “promoting health in all policies”, during the Conference debates will be focus on four main topics concerning women’s health:

  • lifestyles
  • sexual health
  • reproductive health
  • female cancers

These topics play in fact a fundamental role in terms of actions for the promotion of women’s health and primary and secondary prevention of adverse outcomes.

Each session will be introduced by an opening keynote speaker on the topic’s state of the art within the EU framework. The Session will continue with two in-depth speeches, to focus on some relevant aspects of each of the four topics. A guided discussion will follow with scheduled brief interventions of Ministers or their delegates representatives on the implementation of policies in their own Country.

The Conference will start on Thursday 2nd at 9 a.m. with the First Session dedicated to lifestyles, with in-depth speeches on “Physical activity during different stages of a woman’s life” and “Diet and nutrition for women during different stages of life”, and then we will continue through the afternoon with the Second Session dedicated to sexual health, with in-depth speeches on “Sexually transmitted infections” and “Endometriosis and sexual pain”.

On Friday 3rd we will discuss on reproductive health, with in-depth speeches on “Preconception Health” and “Pregnancy, childbirth and puerperium”. In the afternoon we will discuss on female cancer, with in-depth speeches on “Screening as an opportunity to promote woman’s health” and “Infertility Prevention among oncology patients”.  …more (pdf)

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