Siemens Healthineers joins Global Alliance for Women’s Health

Siemens Healthineers joins Global Alliance for Women’s Health

 January 18, 2024

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Closing the women's health gap would enable more women to live healthier, higher-quality lives, and provide an unprecedented boost to the global economy.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and McKinsey Health Institute (MHI) have released an insightful report as part of the Forum's Women’s Health Initiative.

The Report quantifies the economic benefits of investing in women’s wellbeing and has revealed a $1 trillion opportunity to improve lives and economies. It addresses the root causes of the women’s health gap (focused on science, data, care delivery and investment) and charts a number of ways forward to close this gap – from incentivizing new financing models to investing in women-centric research and implementing more inclusive health policies.

Closing the Women’s Health Gap

While longer life expectancies for men and women have been a societal success story, this is not the full picture. Despite living longer than men, women spend 25% more of their lives in poor health. Health burdens have a heavy impact on women’s lives, with ripple effects for broader society. 

While the past two centuries have seen a rise in life expectancy for both men and women, a global health gap still exists. Every person on the planet is affected by the women’s health gap, whether they know it or not. Closing the gap would improve both women’s lives, and those of loved ones, communities, and the world at large.

The Report found that on average that women spend a quarter more of their lives suffering from poor health than men, which could be reduced by almost two-thirds if the health gap was closed. The gender health gap leads to around 75 million years of life per year lost due to poor health - a week per woman every year. 

Addressing the women’s health gap could potentially boost the global economy by at least $1 trillion annually by 2040. Investing in women's health – which is more than just sexual or reproductive health – is therefore not only a matter of health equity, but a chance to help women have expanded workforce participation. Most importantly, it would help them live healthier lives.

Outlining the impact of the gender health gap

According to the Report, the health gap stems from a gender disparity in medical research, investment, diagnosis, and treatment. Women’s health is often reduced to sexual and reproductive health, while data around women's health is often missing or inaccurate, with gaps in funding for certain conditions such as menopause and endometritis. 

“Many people think that because women live longer, they are healthier, and that’s just not true. On average, women spend nine years of their lives in poor health, and the majority of these are during working age. Many of the root causes are addressable," said MHI senior partner and report co-author, Dr Lucy Pérez.

"Even with the same condition – for example, having a heart attack – the way the disease manifests is different. Because when the same toolkit is used for both sexes who are biologically different, one group can have a worse outcome. The good news is that we know this, and can design interventions that can meet the needs of individuals that health professionals are meant to serve, and get to better health outcomes. Better health outcomes translates into more opportunities for individuals," she said. 

Fellow co-author of the report, Anouk Petersen, added: “Women have been treated by the scientific and medical communities as though they are small men, when our entire biology is different. We must evolve our understanding of women’s health to look at the whole person in a much more specific way if we are going to close this gap.”

Solutions and benefits to closing the health gap

The report outlined what facts need to be addressed to tackle the women’s health gap: the deficit in women-specific knowledge in science, the glaring data gaps, the disparities in healthcare delivery and the insufficient investment in women’s health.

WEF and MHI's report provides several solutions to closing this gap, such as investing in women-centric Research & Development, strengthening the collection and analysis of sex- and gender-disaggregated data, enhancing access to gender-specific care, encouraging investments in women’s health innovation, and examining business policies to support women.

Closing the health gap would benefit both individuals and the global economy, suggested data produced by the report. Investing in women's health would enable 3.9 billion women to live healthier, higher-quality lives, while earning more money, and providing for both themselves and their families. 

At least $1 trillion could be pumped into economic productivity annually due to fewer early deaths, fewer health conditions, extended economic and societal capacity to contribute, and increased productivity. The report added that addressing the gap could generate the equivalent impact of 137 million women accessing full-time positions by 2040. Furthermore, every US dollar invested in women's health would return three dollars in projected economic growth, with an overall 1.7% increase in per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

The Report states "There is a moral imperative to address the women’s health gap and improve the lives and livelihoods of billions of women worldwide. Achieving health equity is a collaborative and ongoing endeavour that relies on the active participation of governments, healthcare institutions, non-governmental organizations, individuals and all stakeholders vested in this cause."

"Women’s health is not a standalone issue – it is a cornerstone of societal well-being and progress. Better health and well-being for women creates a ripple effect that extends to families, communities and nations. This holistic approach, supported by collective action and sustained investment, will not only narrow the health gap but also contribute to the betterment of a shared global future."

Pledging support to close the health gap

Siemens Healthineers Elisabeth Staudinger WEF

To bridge the women's health gap, the World Econonmic Forum launched the Global Alliance for Women’s Health that is centred on evidence that investing in women’s health would improve billions of lives and provide a revolutionary economic boon for societies and economies.

The Alliance is a group committed to changing how women’s health is funded and prioritized to close the women’s health gap. It is proven that investing in women’s health is the best investment for societies and economies, and as such the Alliance aims to re-shape the future of women’s health and the global economy.

Around 42 organizations have signed up to support the Alliance to date, pledging USD 55 million. Commitments made by the alliance include the creation of an economic development fund to overcome barriers and ensure equitable support for women and a mother and child disease prevention and treatment scheme in four African nations.

Board members of the Global Alliance for Women’s Health include experts in healthcare, such as Elisabeth Staudinger [pictured above], Managing Board member of Siemens Healthineers

"How can we potentially boost the global economy by $1 trillion annually by 2040?" said Elisabeth. "By making sure women are in good health. By empowering women to earn a living for themselves and their families, it could reduce the time they spend in poor health by almost two-thirds, improve the health outcomes and daily lives of nearly 4 billion people (or half the population on this planet!) and add $1 trillion to the economy annually by 2040...I’m very proud to announce that I will be a member of the board. The alliance is dedicated to the health conditions that uniquely, differently, or disproportionally affect women and is centered on proof that investing in women’s health is the best investment for societies and economies. Healthy women help everyone rise. By working in multi-stakeholder partnerships, we can help pioneer breakthroughs in healthcare, in particular when it comes to innovation and technology, for everyone. Everywhere. Sustainably."

So here's to boosting the global economy, seeing impressive investment into women's health, and to helping women everywhere live healthier lives.

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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


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