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‘We have to better support women’: MP leading the fight on menopause

menopause

‘We have to better support women’: MP leading the fight on menopause

Carolyn Harris remembers hearing her mother and aunties talking about “the change” menopause. She was told to make a cup of tea and sent out of the room. “I was 36!” hoots the Labour MP for Swansea East. “Later I said to my mum, ‘What did you think you were protecting me from? It was always going to happen to me too’.”

Harris is now at the vanguard of a movement determined to smash the remnants of that taboo, pushing a private member’s bill to turn up the volume on a debate about the menopause that is growing louder by the day.

As an increasing number of countries, businesses and individuals mark World Menopause Day on Monday, Harris says she is ready to shame whoever stands in the way of progress.

“You don’t get change unless you ask for it, and you demand it, or you put people in a position where they’re going to look like right bastards if they don’t do something about it,” she says with typical candour. “I want to be in a position where the government can’t say no and where companies won’t say no.”

Harris will lead a small army of supporters to Parliament Square in London before her bill, which is due to be heard on the 29 October, to demand free prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy in England – already available in Scotland and Wales. The government is said to be “interested” in the bill, with Harris adding that she has cross-party support from dozens of MPs including the Tory grandees Bernard and Anne Jenkin, alongside Caroline Nokes and Tim Loughton, as well as Jess Phillips, Diane Abbott and Sarah Champion in the Labour ranks.

“In the last two years the narrative has completely changed,” says Harris, who adds that since the private members bill was announced she’s had calls from countries from Canada and the US, to Australia and Japan.

“People are waking up to the fact that we have to find a better way of supporting women through the menopause,” she says. “Women are enhanced coming through this process, but only if they get the support they need.”

The evidence suggests they all too often don’t. There are more than 13 million currently experiencing menopause or perimenopause in the UK. Menopause campaigners argue that medical sexism and a lack of training means many women are left to suffer the symptoms of menopause – which can include depression, anxiety, insomnia and brain fog as well as hot flushes.

The UK could be losing 14m work days a year related to the menopause, according to recent research. One in four women who experience menopausal symptoms – many at the top of their career – consider leaving their job.

Many more businesses are joining the menopause revolution, says Harris – pointing to companies such as Cult Beauty which has introduced comprehensive policies around miscarriage, IVF, pregnancy and the menopause and hosted Harris at an event last week. Alexia Inge, the company’s co-chief executive, says that with a 78% female workforce it was a moral and business imperative. “As a nation we’re actually losing people from the workforce at a time when we need people to work later in life,” she says. “Even if you take the really important social care elements away, we need to support people to go through this.”

But it’s not enough to have a policy, says Harris. “This can’t be a box-ticking exercise, companies and the government really have to genuinely want to help these workers.”

Harris’s own experience with the menopause was brutal. Twenty years after losing her eight-year-old son in a road traffic accident she blamed herself for not processing her grief when she was hit by a deep depression. “It took me six years, having conversations with women, for me to realise I was going through the menopause,” she says.

Now she wants to use her voice in parliament to speak up for those who she says are often just too tired to fight. “There’s a hell of a lot of women my age, working in supermarkets in shops and they are exhausted,” she says. “A lot of those women are going through the menopause but they are not being treated, because in 2021 there is still not enough understanding about a condition that affects 51% of the population.”

With Harris leading the charge, with an army of women alongside her, that may be starting to change. “I don’t throw stones – I’ll work with anyone to get this done,” she says. “But if I’ve got to throw boulders to get what I want, I will.”

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Health

12 State Governors Owing Us, Health Workers Cry Out

The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria MHWUN, has cried out that governors of 12 states of Nigeria are unfair to their members by owing them several years of salary arrears and also failed to standardise their payments .

The medical body noted that the worst of it all is that these governors have failed to implement the N30,000 new minimum wage that has become a law in the country.

They said the governors have subjected them to harrowing life.

The MHWUN National Vice President , Femi Adebisi stated this in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital at the weekend during the 2022 international youth day organized by the South West leadership of the union, under the theme , ‘Intergenerational solidarity : creating a world for all ages.’

Adebisi said the welfare of health workers remains the only recipe to the recurrent brain drain crippling the health sector.

He however, did not identify the affected 12 states.

“We have nothing less than 12 states that are owing health workers their entitlements.We are engaging them as a union and we are hoping the governors and everyone concern will do the needful soon”, he stated.

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Pay Hazard Allowance To Health Workers, NLC Urges F.G

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Ayuba Wabba, has urged the Federal Government to immediately begin the payment of hazard allowance to health workers in the country.

Wabba made the call at the 2022 annual Federal Capital Territory Nurses Week/Scientific Workshop of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives on Thursday in Abuja.

At the workshop with the theme, “Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health,” Wabba said the allowance has been reviewed but payment is yet to begin.

“Many health workers have fallen victim to diseases in taking care of patients. I salute the nurses and Midwives, your reward is not only in heaven but here on earth. I urge you to learn so you can discharge quality healthcare service to Nigerians.

“The payment of hazard allowance will boost the morale of our health workers in the country”, he added.

 

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Cholera Outbreak Kills 10 In Gombe

Gombe state government has declared an outbreak of cholera after ten deaths were recorded across the state.

This was made public by Habu Dahiru, Gombe commissioner for health,  on Thursday.

Dahiru, who was represented by Abdulrahman Shuaibu, executive secretary of the Gombe Primary Health Care Development Agency, said as of September 20, 236 cases of cholera had been recorded in the state.

“This year, from June, we had sporadic cases of cholera in Balanga LGA and because of the preparedness and prompt response; it has been largely subdued without escalation,” he said.

These outbreaks are recorded in eight wards across Balanga, Yamaltu-Deba, Nafada, Funakaye and Gombe LGA of the state.

“The state ministry of health has promptly initiated public health actions for prevention and control of the disease.

“As of September 20, there was an increase in the number of cases in Gombe state as 236 cases have been listed so far.”

The commissioner said increased downpour of rain and flooding in many parts of the state led to the cholera outbreak.

He said decontamination of wells and boreholes in affected communities would be carried out and distribution of water treatment tablets in all affected communities would be conducted.

 

 

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