During my eight weeks as an ASU Capital Scholar in Washington, D.C., I spend my day interning at the National Women’s Health Network (NWHN) as a health policy intern. The NWHN is a non-profit organization founded in 1975 with the sole purpose of advocating and fighting for women’s right to safe and accessible healthcare.
The NWHN was unofficially founded when Barbara Seaman, a young women’s health journalist in the 60’s, began publicly speaking out for women’s rights. Women at the time were questioning how they were being treated by doctors, birthing centers, and society. Barbara Seaman demonstrated her passion for women’s rights in 1970 when she brought critical attention to the safety concerns surrounding women’s contraceptive pills. Following the senate pill hearings, she co-founded the National Women’s Health Network in 1975.
Supported by a national membership consisting of thousands of individuals, we aim to “shape policy and support consumer health decisions; monitor the actions of Federal regulatory and funding agencies, the health care industry, and the health professions; identify and expose health care abuses; and mobilize grassroots action for women’s health”. The National Women’s Health Network does not accept any monetary support from pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, or medical insurances.
We improve the health of all women by developing and promoting a critical analysis of health issues in order to affect policy and support consumer decision-making.
We believe that:
- Evidence rather than profit must drive health care services.
- Health is a human right.
- Women’s lived experiences and knowledge of their own bodies must be recognized.
- The spectrum of women’s physiological experiences must be respected and not pathologized.
- Health policy must reflect the diversity of women’s lives.
- Health justice demands achieving health equity.
When I am not in the office, I am out attending briefings, conferences, and rallies. One such conference I had this past week, a two-day conference at Georgetown University known as “Pharmed-Out”, was rather interesting as it focused on the impact of pharmaceutical companies in relation to biasing medicine’s providers and patients. I heard from an excellent panel of guests, all of whom are in the fields of pharmacy and medicine, who discussed how PhRMA has negatively affected the respective providers and patients in their specialty. From the over diagnosing of ADHD, to the over prescription of antidepressants, experts in the field explained how providers can best protect their patients from PhRMA’s grip on the industry. Following the conference, my fellow interns and I were able to ask questions of the panel and other attendees.