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Women’s Health Got Worse — Globally — in 2021: Survey

Women at a doctor's appointment

The gender health gap has always impacted women’s lives, thanks to the care, access and treatment they receive. But it turns out that last year women’s health worsened on a global scale, according to a new survey from Hologic and Gallup.

A Global Women’s Health Index was created in 2020, with countries being scored based on women’s answers to questions concerning general health, preventative care, mental health, safety and basic needs including food and shelter. The results were an average score of 53 out of 100 points for 2021 — a point lower than in 2020.

Related: How Black women can advocate for themselves in a healthcare system that ignores them.

According to the report, last year women were more stressed, worried, angry and sad than they were in the past 10 years. Forty-three per cent of women reported feeling worried and 41 per cent said they felt stressed during a lot of the day before the survey.

Women also reported being unable to meet their basic needs, with 37 per cent of women stating they did not have sufficient funds to afford food. This number was higher compared to 33 per cent of men. The gap addresses larger issues for families, as the report stated that “women are culturally the primary caregivers and typically eat last and least in countries facing conflict, famine and hunger.”

Related: Female patients in Ontario have a greater risk of death after surgery by male doctor: study.

Taiwan had the highest score on the index

The 10 countries that scored the highest on the 100-point index included:

  • Taiwan — 70 points
  • Latvia — 69 points
  • Austria — 67 points
  • Denmark — 67 points
  • Estonia — 66 points
  • Switzerland — 66 points
  • Germany — 66 points
  • Czech Republic — 65 points
  • Israel — 65 points
  • Norway — 65 points

The report also found that there is a link between nations that spend more per capita on healthcare and higher index scores, with the exception of the United States. The same applies to countries that do not spend a lot of money on healthcare, with the report naming Afghanistan as the lowest ranking country at 22 points. (Afghanistan’s healthcare infrastructure has also been destabilized as a result of the Taliban assuming control.)

When asked about the survey results for CNN, Dr. Susan Harvey, vice president of worldwide medical affairs at Hologic and former director of breast imaging at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said that you can only impact and improve what you measure.


“Overall, the data is sobering. And we understand that we need women to be healthy to fully engage and be empowered,” she said. “It’s clear that the time has come to work together and begin to find solutions and improve women’s health care.”

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