Icelandic doctors have expressed concerns about the idea of a dedicated health centre for women, a pilot project recently announced by Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir. Chief Physician of Women’s Services at the National University Hospital of Iceland says the criticism is based on misunderstanding of the project.
The Ministry of Welfare has assigned the developmental department of public health to implement two women’s health within existing health centres which would provide women with counselling and various services related specifically to women’s health. Svandís stated the project is intended to help professionals develop specialised skills in the area, strengthen health care service, and promote teamwork within health centres.
“Many doctors have been worried about this and there has been a lot of discussion online in our closed groups and so forth,” stated Þóra Steingrímsdóttir, Chief Physician of Women’s Services at the National University Hospital of Iceland. “But I think this is somewhat built on misconceptions and there is unnecessary fear that men are being excluded or projects taken away from them.” Þóra supports the project, saying it’s “quite a good idea.”
Áslaug Valsdóttir, chairperson of the Icelandic Association of Midwives, agrees that many doctors are misunderstanding the nature of the project. “I think they imagine some kind of big, centralised women’s health centre[…]staffed only by midwives who oversee everything. But that’s not at all the case. This is planned to be a small unit at each health centre. And really just to make service more targeted and not as dispersed.”
Áslaug says the project could make a big difference. “I think it’s a part of improving services for this particular group of women and as I understand it, the concept is a pilot project at one health centre in Reykjavík and one in the countryside. Then the project will probably be evaluated after one or two years and we’ll see whether it has delivered. I have faith in it.”
Men's health equally important
Icelandic Director of Health Alma D. Möller expressed support for the project in a letter published on the Directorate of Health’s website. She added, however, that looking into men’s health is no less important, pointing out that life expectancy for Icelandic men is 3.4 years shorter than for Icelandic women.