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International Women’s Day: How Addressing Women's Health Gap Can Save Global Economy

This healthcare need would benefit 3.9 billion women, providing an extra seven healthy days per year

Mrini Devnani
Women Can Save the World, Here's How (Photo Source: Pexels.com)
Women Can Save the World, Here's How (Photo Source: Pexels.com)

As per a report titled, Why the women’s health gap exists – and how to close it – according to experts at Davos, launched in January 2024, women may live longer than men, on average, but they spend 25 percent more of their lives in debilitating health. These are the findings of the report published by the World Economic Forum and the McKinsey Health Institute. Moreover, it noted that improving diagnostics, data on women-specific conditions like ovarian cancer, and directing more investments towards women’s health and research, is needed.

Considering this, it becomes crucial to focus on women’s health. And what better than to address this issue prior to International Women’s Day 2024! This year’s theme, Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress, emphasizes the same need and highlights the importance of gender equality, women’s, and girls' empowerment along with their rights to healthier lives.

Interestingly, some findings of the above report showcase shocking facts:

  1. Economic Impact: Closing the women's health gap could add $1 trillion to the global economy by 2040.

  2. Years Lost: The women's health gap leads to the loss of 75 million years of life annually due to poor health or early death.

  3. Beneficiaries: Closing the gap would benefit 3.9 billion women, providing an extra seven healthy days per year, totaling an average of 500 days over a lifetime.

  4. Investment Return: For every $1 invested in women's health, there could be around $3 in economic growth.

  5. Top Conditions: The top ten conditions impacting GDP include female-specific and non-specific health issues.

  6. Underfunding: Less than 2% of healthcare research and innovation investment focuses on female-specific conditions beyond cancer.

  7. Global Alliance for Women's Health: The establishment aims to address under-investment and neglected areas in women's health research and development.

  8. Call for Redesign: Healthcare systems need reforming to address the specific needs of women, including increased understanding of female biology, policy, and advocacy work, infrastructure improvements, and reimagined medical education.

  9. Societal Impact: The lack of discussion and awareness around women's health issues perpetuates societal silence and inhibits women from advocating for their health rights.

When asked Dr Kamal Bajwa, a dietitian based in Ranbirpura, Patiala about the status of women’s health in India as of 2024, she said, “Thyroid, PCOD, and Anemia are some of the frequent conditions that are prevalent in women. Moreover, muscle loss is a common complaint for females these days. Many feel that they need to reduce weight, and in doing so, often, they end up harming their bodies. Hence, the solution is to have a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet.”

She continued, “This Women’s Day, I urge women to target better health. What they can start doing is to be planned and stress-free. Moreover, before hopping onto trends, they must consider the mal-effects and ensure to fulfill the needs of their bodies. It is necessary to have the deficiencies checked from time to time. I also suggest that women must communicate their problems with their family members or kids.”

Therefore, the women's health gap holds the potential to significantly impact the global economy positively if addressed effectively. In doing so, we can not only improve the well-being of women worldwide but also crack vast economic opportunities. Investing in women's health means investing in the health of families and communities, as women often play central roles in caregiving and decision-making. Improved access to healthcare services, including reproductive health and maternal care, can lead to better maternal and child outcomes, reducing healthcare costs and improving productivity.

Finally, when women are healthy, they are more likely to participate fully in the workforce, driving economic growth and innovation.

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