MOULTRIE -- Women outnumber men. Women outlive men.

Still, officials say, health care for women across the state remains inconsistent.

The Georgia Office of Women's Health is calling a town meeting from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Moultrie-Colquitt County Library to get direct input from Georgia women regarding their health concerns.

A 70-member think tank produced a draft of a statewide comprehensive women's health plan, including access to health care and health care coverage. The town meeting will serve to parallel that, and ensure that the recommended policy has the realism of what women are experiencing on an everyday basis in the Colquitt County community, state Health Planner Shonta Chambers said.

"We want to hear from women about what their concerns are in terms of their overall health, so that as we develop this plan, it is inclusive of all women in this state," Chambers said.

The Office of Women's Health promotes and leads efforts to improve the health status and quality of life of women through education, research, policy development and coordination of women's health programming. Its current push is to develop a statewide comprehensive women's health plan to present to the state legislature that would establish some sort of continuity in women's health care.

"In developing this plan, it gives you a blueprint of how you need to address the health of women in rural Georgia as well as women in the suburbs in urban Georgia. It's to kind of set the framework, and nothing like that exists. Nobody knows who's doing what, and women don't know where to go for what or if 'what' even exists," Chambers said.

"What we want this plan to do is to set the standard in terms of the way women's health is addressed across the state, so that no matter where you are there are consistencies in care, no matter if you are in Atlanta or in Moultrie."

Local teacher Katrina McIntosh, whose husband is mayor of Moultrie, has served on the 11-member advisory council for a couple of years. Hers is one of few voices representing rural Georgia.

McIntosh's position on the council influenced the Office of Women's Health (OWH) to hold one of its town meetings in Moultrie.

The OWH strives to make sure a woman's health is covered throughout her adult life. Many programs exist now for women in their reproductive years, but as women age into menopause, services become extremely fragmented, Chambers said.

And as other dynamics, such as lack of transportation, language barriers, lack of insurance coverage, lack of knowing exactly what is covered under insurance, are thrown into the mix, those services become even more fragmented, she said.

The issues of women's health are broad and often gray. Some issues at face don't seem like health issues, but they actually are, Chamber said. For instance, at previous town meetings, women have suggested establishing a policy for providing respite for caregivers, since women typically assume that role, she said.

Another gray area is mental health. The mental wellbeing of women should receive attention right alongside physical health, she said. Chambers suggested that policy could mandate that a mental health screening might be part of a woman's wellness evaluation.



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