Our guest blogger, Carol Teutsch, M.D., is an endocrinologist who practiced in Atlanta for 20 years, caring for and learning from many women patients. She worked at a pharmaceutical company in the Philadelphia area for many years and now works in Los Angeles to bring health literacy programs to vulnerable families in the U.S.
Twenty years of private practice in endocrinology have taught me how crucial it is to find the right balance between investments in clinical care and investments in prevention and public health.
Developing countries have the opportunity to avoid repeating the costly mistakes we have made in the U.S., such as allowing people to become less healthy by reducing physical activity, having unhealthy foods become the default choice, and creating communities that are not safe and walkable. The result is generations of men, women and now children who have progressive obesity and increasing incidence of diabetes. Early intervention, community planning and health promotion are key.
Poor health in women threatens the fabric of any society, and particularly in rapidly developing countries. Social determinants (as we are only slowly coming to recognize in the U.S.) are very powerful in shaping long-term health outcomes, and so improving the health of women should be closely tied to initiatives focused on reducing poverty. The health issues that arise from where and how women live, care for their children, and carry out their daily tasks such as cooking, as well as their opportunities for education become predictors for that generation as well as those that follow.
Environmental degradation and adverse climate trends are going to have an increasingly negative impact on health, so health policy should be married to environmental and climate policy. We need to take the long view so that we can make the right choices today and set the right path for a healthier future.
Together let us visualize a better world for women, where they are not dying in childbirth, where they are safe from personal violence, where they are able to get the basics of clean water, clean air, and adequate shelter, where they are educated so they can reach their full potential, where they make good lifestyle choices for themselves and their families, and where they can ultimately raise a healthy, happy generation of children who can fully contribute to our world.