In the much anticipated plenary lecture, Mary Ann Lumsden, President of the IMS gave an inspiring talk on the status and future of women's health.
Mary began by offering a number of analogies describing the role of post-reproductive females in society and even wider biology. In orca society, the post-reproductive matriarchs lead the pod when food is scarce. In hunter-gatherer societies, older women are particularly good at foraging for food. And more recently, grandparents are increasingly taking a greater role in raising their grandchildren.
However, as life expectancy continues to increase, so does the burden of disease. And with this the roles and perception of the elderly are changing.
What are the diseases that affect post-menopausal women as they continue to age? Ischemic heart disease, cerebral vascular pathology, diabetes - all huge global burdens of disease. And all influenced by sociodemographic factors.
Unable to attend the conference, Mary played a short clip of Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. In a global society influenced by social, economic and lifestyle factors, Lesley highlighted the importance of a life course approach to treating menopausal women.
A life course approach does not just focus on treating menopause, but instead improving women's health generally. Where possible, lifestyle changes should be encouraged to women and embraced by all.