On Wednesday this week, Hologic released its second annual global women’s health index (GWHI), which provides a framework for achieving comprehensive progress. It considers five related dimensions of women’s health: (1) preventative care; (2) basic needs; (3) opinions of health and safety; (4) individual health; and (5) emotional health. The Index was created in partnership with Gallup, a leading data analytics firm, and surveyed 127,000 people worldwide in more than 140 languages and claims to represent 94% of the world’s women and girls.
The GWHI found widespread barriers to preventative care as a well as a growing gap between high- and low-income countries in the well-being of women. Among the most important findings was that 1.5 billion women lack access to screening for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and sexually transmitted diseases. Interestingly, all 122 countries included in the Index have significant room for improvement: the average global score was 53 – out of a possible 100 – with Taiwan and Latvia scoring 70, while the lowest score of 22 was recorded for Afghanistan (see figures below, © Hologic).
Hologic is a global leader in health technology for women, including its digital breast tomosynthesis system and the company’s CEO, Steve MacMillan, commented: “The lack of progress and, in some cases, backward momentum justify an even louder wake-up call for world leaders to do more for women, whose well-being underpins the health of families, communities, societies and economies.” He continued: “Reliable data can ignite genuine change, and we look forward to engaging leaders worldwide to use the Index to champion women’s wellness.”
The difference in scores between high- and low-income countries almost doubled to 22 points between 2020 and 2021, while only 12% of the women reported that they had been tested for any type of cancer. This latter finding is of significant concern since the early detection of breast and cervical cancer can lead to successful treatment and significantly improved health.
Dr Susan Harvey, a radiologist and Hologic’s Vice President of Worldwide Medical Affairs, said: “As a physician who has worked with patients in different corners of the world for decades, I’ve seen firsthand how early detection of disease makes a critical difference in lifespan and quality of life for women. But when women have to choose between getting healthcare for themselves and finding the next meal for their families, they will likely deprioritize their health.” She concluded: “It’s crucial for policymakers to see preventative care as part of a multidimensional, mutually dependent set of factors that should be jointly addressed.”