Editorial Note:

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In a time of rapid change and widely conflicting messages on women’s health issues, it’s not always easy to read the fine print. In this issue of Network magazine, we take a closer look at a few trends that are creeping onto the radar with increasing frequency. With the state of our health care system in flux, Abby Lippman and Amélie Quesnel-Vallée consider the larger implications for women of last year’s Supreme Court decision allowing Quebecers to buy private insurance for health care, and of provincial responses so far. As a new report on women and ancillary work reveals, privatization has already had disastrous results for workers who provide non-direct health care—the majority of whom are women. Meanwhile, prescriptions for SSRI anti-depressants in Canada—two-thirds of which go to women—are spiking, and two new drugs are poised to make menstruation a thing of the past. According to a study commissioned by Women and Health Protection (WHP), at least some of these developments might be connected with increasing behind-the-scenes drug company funding for health advocacy groups.

The Canadian Women’s Health Network (CWHN) has launched a poster campaign to help women read between the hype. You’ll find our first Don’t Swallow Everything You Hear about Women’s Health fact sheet in this issue. Downloadable posters are now available on our website, www.cwhn.ca, or you can order larger hard copies from CWHN. The National Coordinating Group on Health Care Reform and Women (NCGHRW) has also released its Women’s Guide for Understanding Evidence about Health and Health Care, which you can check out here, or on the NCGHCRW website, http://www.womenandhealthcarereform.ca. Amidst all the sound and fury, now’s a good time to get informed.

But the news isn’t all dour. Thanks to the committed efforts of an international team of mental health experts, the International Women’s Mental Health Consensus Statement has been approved by the World Psychiatric Association, paving the way toward more integrated approaches to understanding and promoting women’s mental health worldwide. Meanwhile, 2006 marks the fifth year since the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) Institute for Gender and Health (IGH) embarked upon its mission to produce invaluable women’s health research. And that’s just some of what we have in store for you this time. As always, you’ll find more samplings of this kind of research, action and discussion between the following pages. Let us know your thoughts—you can get involved in one of our electronic discussion lists, submit articles, drop us a line, or call our toll-free number at 1-888-818-9172. We look forward to your feedback!

Laila Malik
Director of Communications