WHO Stats 2019: Gender discrepancies in health care access

April 9, 2019

World Health Day on 7 April this year focused on primary health care as the basis of universal health coverage, and the World Health Statistics 2019 – disaggregated by sex – highlights important needs that can significantly improve access to and uptake of primary health care worldwide.

Women tend to have a higher life expectancy than men, but the divide between men’s and women’s life expectancy is narrowest in low-income countries, where women lack access to meagre health services- about 1 in 41 women dies of a maternal cause, compared with 1 in 3300 in wealthy countries; there are fewer than 4 nursing and midwifery personnel per 1000 people in 90% of low-income countries.

Men, however, often seek health care less than women, even with available healthcare in the face of the same disease – men are less likely than women to take an HIV test, less likely to access antiretroviral therapy and more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses than women. Similarly, male TB patients appear to be less likely to seek life-saving care compared to female TB patients.

A majority of reported causes of death between men and women contribute to reduced life expectancy in men than in women. The probability of men dying from noncommunicable diseases and road injury was higher; suicide and homicide mortality rates were also notably high in men than in women.

Dr Samira Asma, WHO Assistant Director General for Data, Analytics and Delivery has emphasised the urgent need to effectively manage noncommunicable diseases and to curb risk factors leading to premature death.

Life expectancy in 2000 was strongly affected by income. One child in every 14 born in a low-income country will die before their fifth birthday – life expectancy of the poor is 18.1 years lower than the rich. Global life-expectancy at birth has since increased by 5.5 years, from 66.5 to 72.0 years; healthy life expectancy at birth also increased from 58.5 years to 63.3 years as of 2016.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General has said the organisation seeks to use the statistics to provide increased universal health coverage for 1 billion people by 2023, by improving access to community services and ensuring those services are accessible, affordable, and effective for everyone regardless of gender.

Although many countries still struggle to provide gender disaggregated information,Dr. Richard Cibulskis, the report’s main author, has insisted that using good quality, disaggregated data is central to closing the gender gap and ultimately improving people’s health and wellbeing.


Category: Top Story

Comments are closed.