Horrific health outlook for women

KUALA LUMPUR: Women’s health is worsening worldwide according to a global survey, with a majority of them not having been tested for life-threatening conditions, while many are experiencing declining emotional health and a billion are living with physical pain.

The Hologic Global Women’s Health Index, one of the largest annual updates on women’s wellbeing, found that their health was deteriorating even as the Covid-19 pandemic waned and economies gradually returned to pre-Covid levels.

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The latest index will be released at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and fills a critical gap in knowledge about the health, safety and wellbeing of women worldwide, said Hologic chairman, president and chief executive officer Stephen P. MacMillan.

“The Index serves as a wake-up call that improving women’s health needs to be a top priority.

“If we follow the roadmap set out in this Index, we can meaningfully improve the health and wellbeing of women for generations to come,” he said.

Among its findings:

> Only 36% of women worldwide have been tested for high blood pressure and 19% have tested for diabetes;

> Only 11% have been tested for any type of cancer while 10% were tested for sexually transmitted disease or infections;

> Nearly two billion women of reproductive age are at risk of infertility, increased maternal and foetal mortality, and other deadly diseases; and

> More women are sad, angry and worried now than at the height of the pandemic, with about four in 10 women experiencing worry and stress; women are also more likelier than men to report feeling these emotions.

The index was developed by health and medical technology firm Hologic Inc and polling company Gallup.

The Index is based on interviews with more than 147,000 women and men in 143 countries and territories and claims to represent the voices of 97% of the world’s women and girls aged 15 and older.

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Based on survey responses, the Index assigns a women’s health score to each country or territory.

Taiwan had the highest score at 72 out of a possible 100, while other top countries were Kuwait (68), Austria (67) and Germany (67).

The United States fell seven places from its ranking in the second year of the survey to number 30, on par with Kazakhstan, while the United Kingdom and France both scored 60, a few points above the global average.

Nations at the lowest rungs of the rank include the Congo (36), Sierra Leone (34) and Afghanistan (26).

This year’s Index report includes country spotlights, including case studies on what is working well.

South Korea is a consistent leader in cancer testing while Costa Rica places a high priority on testing for high blood pressure.

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