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Why the women’s health gap exists?
How to close it – according to experts at Davos

Women may live longer than men, on average, but they spend 25% more of their lives in debilitating health, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum and the McKinsey Health Institute launched at Davos. This “women’s health gap” equates to 75 million years of life lost due to poor health or early death each year. Closing the gap would benefit 3.9 billion women, giving them an extra seven healthy days a year, or an average of 500 days over a lifetime.

Not only that, but it could also boost the global economy by $1 trillion by 2040 from fewer early deaths and health conditions, and a greater capacity for women to contribute to the economy and society finds Closing the Women’s Health Gap: A $1 Trillion Opportunity to Improve Lives and Economies.

For every $1 invested in women’s health, the report projects there would be around $3 in economic growth. The Forum’s Annual Meeting featured three sessions looking at elements of women’s health – and what needs to be done to address the gap, including more research, care delivery, data and investment.

Poor health impacts working women more

“Women do live longer in poor health,” said Lucy Perez, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, in the Open Forum: Medicine and Women.

That is what this health gap refers to. [We found] that the majority of this health gap is impacting women during their working years, between the ages of 20 and 60, not at the end of life.

“A lot of this gap is also the result of conditions that are not female-specific. A lot of the women’s health burden is associated with conditions that impact both men and women, but impact women differently or disproportionately.”

In many instances, women will take longer to get a diagnosis or will not get appropriate care, added Perez, because “perhaps a physician does not recognize the manifestation of a heart attack in a woman”.