A local physician wants authorities to add menopause medications to the Barbados National Drug Formulary to make the drugs more accessible to any woman in need of relief from their symptoms.
Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Certified Menopause Specialist Dr Sandra Bynoe told Barbados TODAY at a menopause seminar at Lexam House, Garrison Savannah, on the weekend, that many Barbadian women cannot afford to pay for menopause treatment.
She said that adding the medication to the drug formulary is a step in the right direction to ensure that the average Barbadian woman can access prescription drugs to help them cope with the physical and psychological changes that affect them during menopause.
“There is a socio-economic divide in the cost of healthcare. It is all over the world really, so it’s not really unique to Barbados. The cost of the menopause medication is prohibitive to some patients. So some patients can afford it, some patients can’t. There are some medications that are more expensive than others which some patients need and still can’t afford.
“By getting it on the formulary, we remove that divide so everyone can access their menopausal health medication regardless of whether they have insurance, regardless of what they can afford. If it is on the drug formulary it would make it more affordable for everyone. Healthcare should be accessible to everyone regardless of their socio-economic class,” Dr Bynoe said.
According to the National Institute on Aging, menopause is determined to comes 12 months after a woman’s last period. The years leading up to that point, when women experience changes in their monthly cycle, hot flashes, or other symptoms, are called the menopausal transition or perimenopause.
The transition may begin between ages 45 and 55 years and usually lasts about seven years but can be much longer depending on lifestyle factors such as smoking, the commencement years, race and ethnicity.
During perimenopause, the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones made by the ovaries, varies greatly.
The menopausal transition affects women in various ways. For some, the body begins to use energy differently, fat cells change and women may gain weight more easily. Some women may experience changes in their bone or heart health, their body shape and composition, or their physical function.
Dr Bynoe who is passionate about helping females who are experiencing menopause said she is hoping that Barbados’ healthcare system advances to a stage where women do not have to attend her private practice for menopausal care.
She suggested that doctors need to be trained and placed in the polyclinics where women have access to free menopausal care.
“Those doctors can then make the prescription from the medication on the formulary. But, I want to encourage women to seek help. Menopause is no longer a taboo word.
“We started this journey in 2017 with only 30 women in a small room and look at the number of women that we see here at this seminar today. When I first moved to Barbados no one was talking about menopause. Women are now talking, women are seeking help, women are trying to understand what is happening with their bodies,” the certified menopause specialist said.
During the well-attended seminar, women learned about the physiological and psychological impact of menopause and the lifestyle changes that could help them better cope with changes to their bodies. (AH)
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