On Friday, October 20th, public health professionals from around the Triangle gathered at Duke to discuss how best to advance women’s health in the current political environment. Keynote speeches were given by Jen Kates, Vice President and Director of Global HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, and North Carolina Congressman David Price.

Women’s health right now is in an era of uncertainty. Jen Kates focused on this as she outlined many of the questions that remain regarding how the Trump administration will implement many of its proposed changes to global health policy. Unfortunately, this uncertainty extends to women’s health domestically as well. Congressman David Price described expected and potential changes to the Affordable Care Act and the devastating effect these could have on women and girls across the United States.

After hearing a broad overview, the afternoon concluded with two panels which honed in on specific impacts current and proposed policies will have. Lindsay Robinson of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic reminded audience members that women’s health doesn’t live in a bubble. These rights are wrapped up in other rights, such as votin

From left: Carolyn Barnes, Jen Kates, Joy Noel Baumgartner, and Tasseli McKay joined a panel discussion on the U.S. and International Policy Impacts on Adolescents, HIV, Sexual Gender Minorities and Health, moderated by Sara LeGrand.

g rights, and our movements cannot afford to be weakened by putting ourselves in silos. Carolyn Barnes of the Sanford School of Public Policy expanded on this as she walked audience members through the complicated and convoluted process of applying for Medicaid- which provides essential healthcare coverage for millions of women.

These silos can have devastating consequences as Tasseli McKay of RTI International demonstrated when discussing policy impacts on transgender women’s right to health. These rights are unfortunately too often pushed to the side. As McKay said, “Women’s health transcends those that were born with a uterus and ovaries”.

So, what are the solutions? Tewodros Endailalu of the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health urged everyone to lead by example- to fight for the right to health for everyone, not just those in our households, or backyards. Laneta Dorflinger of FHI360 discussed exciting new contraceptive technologies that are currently in the works, and the importance of designing new methods that meet women’s needs and investing in a health work force that can comprehensively provide these methods.

We’re currently in an uphill battle to protect the past advances made in women’s health, and promote future advances- but with strong leaders in the field and engaged constituents we are energized to see the changes that can be made.

Want to read more about the symposium? Click here!

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