Majority of women face bias, discrimination in healthcare in Australia

Canberra, March 14 (IANS) A majority of Australian women say they have experienced bias or discrimination in the health system, a national survey has found.

The federal government on Thursday released the results of the first End Gender Bias survey, revealing that two thirds of Australian women reported health care related gender bias or discrimination, Xinhua news agency reported.

It found that women from diverse backgrounds and those with a disability were more likely to experience bias or discrimination in healthcare settings.

The survey of 2,800 women, healthcare professionals and stakeholder groups was led by the National Women’s Health Advisory Council and launched by Ged Kearney, assistant minister for Health and Aged Care, at Australia’s first National Women’s Health Summit in Canberra on Thursday.

“For the first time, the Australian government is addressing the complex and systemic bias against women in health care,” Ged Kearney said in a statement.

“This is the turning point for women’s health in Australia and I’m glad we’ve finally arrived here.”

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Disrespectful and demeaning interactions often occurred during intimate examinations and childbirth, the report said.

In one case an Indigenous woman aged 18-24 who participated in the survey said she was “bullied” into accepting long-term contraception in order to have surgery for endometriosis.

Consistent themes of bias or discrimination included women feeling dismissed, disbelieved or stereotyped being regarded as hysterical by healthcare professionals, particularly in cases with symptoms related to pain.

More than 70 per cent of respondents said they experienced bias in visits to their general practitioner (GP) compared to 50 per cent who reported bias in hospital settings.

–IANS

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