Listening to Our Members

At the Network, we listen to our members in many ways. We listen to you via elections — there’s a reminder in this newsletter issue to make sure your membership is up-to-date so you’ll be eligible to vote in the election this Spring. We listen to you via the Women’s Health Voice, our free health information service. And we listen to you when we develop our advocacy campaigns.  We also try to respond to meet members’ requests for information on our website and in our newsletter. In fact, this issue of the newsletter is full of articles and information that were developed in response to member’s requests.

Over the years, you’ve told us that you want health information that you can trust – and you want the Network’s help identifying information that might not be quite so trustworthy.  In “Hold the Statins, Stat”, former and current Network board members Adriane Fugh Berman and Charlea Massion dig into the new statin guidelines. They explain why the guidelines make a lot of sense for some people (mostly those who’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes) but not so much sense for others. Along the way, they describe some troubling conflicts of interest among the members of the committee that developed the new guidelines.

You’ve also told us that you want regulations that improve the safety of medicines and medical devices for everyone.  In “Has Your Hip Been Recalled?”, Network Senior Program Coordinator Kate Ryan explains the new Food and Drug Administration regulations designed to help patients know whether or not a medical device they’re using has been found to be dangerous and in need of replacement. The new regulations (or “you dee eyes” as Kate fondly calls them – short for Unique Device Identifiers) are the result of years of dogged determination on the part of the Network and a few other consumer safety organizations.  Kate’s article will help you, and your loved ones, know how to find out if you’re using a dangerous device.

You’ve told us that universal access to health care is your top public policy priority – and we developed the Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need (RWV) campaign to respond to this and advocate for reform that meets women’s needs. Now that the new coverage promised by the Affordable Care Act is finally going into effect, we have to make sure that women know how to get the help they need to enroll in coverage.  In “Women 4 Health Care”, Network Program Coordinator Lillian Hewko reports on a new outreach campaign designed to reach women who are most likely to be uninsured: young women, low-income women, and women of color.

There’s much more in this issue, including a Young Feminist essay on genetic testing for breast cancer, and several short reports on interesting new research findings.  If you see something you like – or you have suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover in future issues – please let us know.  We’re always happy to get your feedback.

On a personal note, I wanted to let you know that, in February, I will start a short sabbatical.  I plan to spend three months in Europe, where I’m looking forward to sightseeing and exploring.  We’ve put a good plan into place to ensure that the Network will continue to be productive and responsive while I’m away. Amy Allina, who has led the Network’s policy advocacy work for over a decade, will be the interim Executive Director.  I’m confident that Amy and the staff will ensure that the Network is the place you turn to for advocacy and action.  I’ll hear from you later this spring.

This article was written by: Cindy Pearson

Cindy Pearson was the NWHN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2021. One of the nation’s leading advocates for women’s health, Cindy often testified before Congress,  NIH and the FDA and was frequently featured in the news as a consumer expert on women’s health issues. When she retired, Cindy received a Congressional Resolution in honor of her outstanding contributions to the health of women and girls.