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Women’s health: local and global matters of great significance

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A life cycle approach is important, as is acknowledging the importance of socio-cultural and lifestyle factors

Women’s health, in its broadest sense, encompasses all aspects of their health and wellbeing. From this perspective, this issue of the MJA includes a wide selection of articles covering key issues in women’s health, both locally and globally. The topics covered are diverse, and include pregnancy and reproductive health, as well as health and wellbeing at various stages of a woman’s life cycle. Taking a life course perspective of women’s health clarifies links between their socio-cultural background, reproductive health, lifestyle, and chronic disease risk.1 Significant events across the lifespan, including birthweight and age of menarche, have been identified as likely markers of cardiovascular disease risk,2 pre-menopausal breast cancer risk,3 and diabetes4 in women.

Most women in high and middle income countries will come into contact with health systems and health professionals while they are pregnant, but in Australia there is a confusing plethora of models of care. In some models the care is fragmented, as women move between primary and secondary care, private and public services, and medical and midwifery providers. Outcomes of pregnancy are important…