Women as Agents of Change in Global Development

Julie PotyrajIn her second article of The “Women As Agents of Change” series, Julie Potyraj looks into how women across the world are working to reduce maternal mortality.

Even though many global health initiatives focus on issues related to women’s health, and though women make up the majority people working in the field, global health is predominantly led by men. Many global health funding agencies have a noticeable lack of female leadership throughout their histories. But can male-led organizations lead to the type of improvements in women’s health that the world so desperately needs?

Studies have shown that women in leadership positions in governmental organizations are more likely than their male counterparts to implement policies that are supportive of women and children. In 2003, women won nearly 50 percent of the lower house of parliament seats in Rwanda. Though they faced obstacles, these women started a dialogue about the importance of women’s empowerment, initiated pro-child legislation, and prioritized the needs of women and children in the budget. We’re also starting to see that increasing women’s leadership in global health is directly connected with improvements in health outcomes for women and children. In India, for example, there was a 1.5 percent reduction in neonatal mortality rates for every one standard deviation increase in women’s political representation at the district council level. Essentially, as the number of women in government increased, the rates of neonatal mortality decreased. (more…)

Diabetes – Who’s in Control?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412

Terri L. McCulloch

It’s #TBT here at Disruptive Women in Health Care. And today we throw it back to diabetes.  In her post shared below, Terri lays out for us the challenges of a teenage girl developing a relationship with the care and knowledge of her diabetes and how she ultimately came to understand its place in her life. This post was originally published November 12, 2015.

What if you had no control over what you ate, when you ate, how much energy you had, or what you weigh? What if, on top of this, you had to test your blood 6 times a day and give yourself injections, carrying around your supplies constantly so you would be ready no matter what else was going on in your life? Now, throw in that you are 15 and just want to be normal, like everyone else, eating pizza when you feel like it and going wherever you wanted?

Kimberly Young was that teenager. She, likes hundreds of thousands of other American teenagers, has type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed at the age of 4, she was never like other kids. She always felt that her diabetes controlled her life. She didn’t have the carefree lifestyle of a teenager. Kimberly had to grow up more quickly than her friends as the realization that what she ate, how active she was and how closely she monitored her blood glucose had long term impacts on her health. Having too much pizza wasn’t about just gaining the “freshman 10” (or 20!) when she was in college, it was about maintaining her vision and her circulation to prevent serious complications. She learned that, “There is no vacation from diabetes. You live with it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter where you go or what you go.” (more…)

Shout Out to Disruptive Woman Sharon Terry and DW Man of the Month Pat Terry

The following BuzzFeed News post was published on August 20th, 2016. In it, our very own Disruptive Woman Sharon Terry and Man of the Month Pat Terry, both receive some very special recognition. And we are very proud to share it here!

This Guy Swallowed Parasitic Worms On Purpose — Then Became A Published Scientist

Sean Ahrens, who has tried just about every treatment for Crohn’s disease, ingested parasitic worm eggs as a last resort — and just wrote about it for a prestigious medical journal.

Stephanie M. Lee

posted on Aug. 20, 2016, at 10:06 a.m.

Stephanie M. Lee
BuzzFeed News Reporter


Sean Ahrens

Since Sean Ahrens was diagnosed at age 12 with Crohn’s disease, a largely mysterious and painful condition caused by inflammation of the gut, he’s tried all kinds of diets and drugs. But what he ingested on March 17, 2010, was extreme even for him: a shot glass of parasitic worm eggs. (more…)

IN MEMORIUM: A light for patient advocacy goes out, too soon

This post by Chelsea Rice first appeared on Athena Insight on August 19, 2016.

“There’s no reason that only 4.75% of outpatient visits and .08% of my hospitalizations are spent actively treating my condition. There’s no reason that I spent two solid months (1540 hours, 64.2 days) of this year waiting instead of healing. So, please, stop wasting my time. Stop wasting my life.”

— Jess Jacobs “On Wasting My Time — The Numbers

Jessica “Jess” Jacobs, a 29-year-old healthcare IT professional and patient, wrote these words in her blog in November 2014. In the post, she categorized the relative usefulness of the time she had spent in the healthcare system that year, in a range of specialty visits, phone calls, and hospitalizations. Like much of her writing, it was a depressingly honest account of the state of today’s patient experience: somewhere closer to useless than useful.



Why Don’t We Take Tanning As Seriously As Tobacco?

With our Back to School series highlighting how best to navigate through the college journey; we also revisit a series that ran last year in May covering the hazards of indoor tanning beds. The following is one of the posts that spoke to the risks and concerns as they relate to skin cancer. It’s Flashback Friday here at Disruptive Women in Health Care!
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With May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month and in tandem with our event Wednesday co-hosted with the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, The Hazards and Allure of Indoor Tanning Beds on College Campuses we are running a series on skin cancer. Be sure to check back daily for posts on skin cancer including how you prevent and detect it. Enjoy!

In 2009, upon review of the science on tanning beds and cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer assigned tanning beds a class 1 carcinogen, joining tobacco and asbestos in the highest classification of harm. In spite of this development, skin cancer rates have steadily climbed over the last 3 decades. Rising prevalence is seen especially in young women, with an 8-fold increase since 1970. Melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer is now the most common cancer in young adults aged 25-29. Skin cancer is hitting young women especially hard because they are the heaviest users of tanning beds. Recent statistics reveal that 19% of teens and over half of university students have used tanning beds. The risk of indoor tanning to population health has even exceeded that of tobacco. One study reported that the number of cases of skin cancer attributable to indoor tanning (~450,000) now exceeds the number of cases of lung cancer attributable to smoking (~360,000). This epidemic comes with a price tag, with annual costs for skin cancer treatment in the US now exceeding $8 billion a year and increasing at a rate 5 times faster than other cancers. (more…)

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