U.S. Women's Health Scores Fall Short of Those of Other Wealthy Nations Despite Higher Spending
By: WE Staff | Thursday, 24 November 2022
It is obvious that many women lack access to the screenings and preventative care they require as the state of women's health in the United States continues to deteriorate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that women are more likely than males to pass away from diseases including cancer, heart disease, and stroke that may be prevented. Women are also more prone than men to have chronic illnesses like diabetes, depression, and arthritis.
Lack of access to healthcare is one of the main obstacles to women's health. Nearly one in five American women, according to the National Women's Law Center, reside in counties without OB-GYNs. A county without a public hospital that provides obstetric care is home to roughly half of all women. Low-income women and women of colour, who are more likely to reside in communities without access to quality healthcare, are particularly harmed by this lack of access.
In 2021, the health of American women deteriorated as a result of the lack of access to screenings and preventive care for many of them. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit organisation that funds independent research on health care issues, found that one in five women had not seen a doctor or nurse for preventive care in the previous year and that almost one in four women did not have a regular source of health care.
According to a new analysis published by Hologic, a global medical technology business, and Gallup, an analytics organisation that specialises in polling, more than 1.5 billion women worldwide lack vital health screenings, an issue that experts connect to food insecurity, poverty, a lack of educational opportunities, and risks to their personal safety.
These results show that women's health is not generally prioritised by decision-makers or by women themselves.
Women are socialised from an early age to care for and prioritise others over oneself, which might result in them giving themselves less attention. Due to conflicting obligations, the need to prioritise the health of their families, or the need to make difficult decisions about how to allocate their limited resources, women frequently put off seeking care for themselves.
The U.S. Women's Health Score Trails Other Wealthy Countries Despite Higher Spending
Taiwan, Latvia, Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Israel, and Norway had the top rankings among the nations and territories.
Afghanistan, Congo, Venezuela, Turkey, Lebanon, Togo, Benin, Ecuador, Peru, and Gabon ranked last among the nations and territories.
The research summary states that, with the exception of the United States, nations and territories that spend more per capita on healthcare tend to score higher on the women's health index. The United States had a score of 61 and was rated 23 out of 122 despite spending almost twice as much per person on healthcare than the survey's average country.
According to Rosemary Morgan, PhD, associate scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, who was not involved in creating the report, this shows that the quality of healthcare is equally as important as the amount of money spent on it, if not more so. "If there was ever a case for providing access to healthcare for all, this is it. According to her, universal healthcare "makes healthcare inexpensive for everyone and decreases access inequities—things the U.S. currently lacks.
The Majority of Women Neglect to Have Important Health Screenings Done
Only 12 percent of female respondents, who collectively represent more than 1.5 billion women globally, stated they had undergone any form of cancer screening in the previous year, and almost 60 percent of those respondents were female. The proportion is comparable to the 61 percent of female respondents who reported not getting tested in 2020.
The authors emphasise that the lack of preventive screenings may have an effect on women's health for years to come. Later-diagnosed diseases are more expensive and challenging to treat, and they reduce survival.
One of the challenges is that sexual and reproductive health are frequently prioritised over all other health issues when discussing women's health. Women who are past the reproductive age range and those with health issues unrelated to their sexual health or the reproductive life cycle frequently get less care. N oncommunicable diseases like diabetes and cancer frequently receive less care, which can lead to greater inequality in these communities.
The Struggle to Meet Basic Needs is Causing More Emotional Distress in Women
According to the study, more than 40% of women said they were anxious and stressed out, 32% said they were unhappy, and 26% said they were angry. Since the Gallup World Poll started keeping track of emotional health ten years ago, each of these percentages is at a record high. (The Hologic Global Women's Health Index started in 2020 and includes the same tracking.)
Thirty percent of female respondents, or about one billion women globally, claimed they occasionally lacked the money to buy food for themselves and their families, while 37% said the same about having enough money for decent housing.
Increases in Funding, Research, and Advocacy Are Needed to Address Disparities
Women's health issues are frequently disregarded and ignored, despite breakthroughs in medicine and technology. Women make up over half of the world's population, however they account for a startling 70% of the world's poor, according to the World Health Organization.
This gap is caused by a multitude of things, such as gender inequality, access to healthcare, and a lack of finances. As a result, women are at a higher risk of developing a variety of health issues, including maternal mortality, sexually transmitted diseases, and cervical cancer.
We must expand financing for research and activism on women's health issues in order to address these problems. Additionally, we need to improve women's access to high-quality healthcare globally. By doing this, we can contribute to ensuring that all women have the chance to enjoy long, healthy lives.
Overall, these findings, according to Morgan, show the pervasive gender bias in the healthcare system. She cites several instances, such as how women are treated inside the system and by healthcare professionals, whether their complaints are taken seriously, and how they have historically been shut out of health research.
For women of colour who additionally endure racism in addition to gender bias, the situation is considerably worse, according to Morgan. "We need to lessen gender prejudice in healthcare, including how it interacts with other forms of identity and oppression like racism and race, both in research and among health professionals. We must understand that not every woman will be affected equally, she says.