Posted by on August 4, 2016 - 7:38am

A recent study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that women in countries across the globe, report being in poorer health than men [1]. The WHO administered a survey to over 250,000 individuals in 59 countries, which asked participants to answer questions regarding chronic health conditions, the ability to partake in daily activities, and overall wellbeing. Across all geographical regions and age demographics, women were more likely to report being in “poor health” and exhibit greater limitations in their daily activities.

Does this mean that women worldwide face health inequities due to their gender or their biological makeup? The study authors suggest it may be a combination of both. First, biological factors dependent on sex may play a role in disease incidence, prevalence, symptoms, age at onset, and severity. Yet, sociological factors such as discriminatory values and behaviors towards women coupled with biases from healthcare systems may factor into poor health outcomes.

The WHO is currently conducting additional research necessary to determine if the self-reported “poor health” matches to actual clinical and biological data through the study on Global Ageing and Adult Health [2]. This will provide a clearer view on where women’s health issues stand across globe.



1.    Boerma et al., BMC Public Health. 2016; 16:657.
2.    World Health Organization


Posted by on September 4, 2013 - 3:20pm

A recent report from the World Health Organization showed that life expectancies for women over 50 are increasing around the world.  Women are living longer now than they did 40 years ago, thanks to medical advances and more sanitary living.  While all countries showed life-expectancy improvements, some improved less than others.  The AIDS epidemic in South Africa, the collapse of the Soviet health system in Russia, and the increased cases of lung cancer and diabetes in Mexico are a few instances of slower improvement rates.

Internationally, heart disease, stroke, and cancer continue to be the leading causes of death for women over 50.  Dr. John R. Beard, director of the World Health Organization’s Department of Aging, suggests countries “focus on lowering blood pressure with inexpensive drugs and screening for cervical and breast cancer” so these diseases can be prevented or treated in more women.

The report also discussed how women tend to live longer than men in almost every part of the world due to biological advances and environmental and behavioral factors.  Increasing numbers of elderly women mean a demographic shift of our world and a need to care for female patients longer into their lifespans than clinicians have in the past.  Regrettably, even with this data, women health systems in less-developed countries remain “largely confined to reproductive matters” ignoring the other health needs of women who advance to old age.  The increasing numbers of elderly women point to a need for broader health systems than ever before.

Source: The New York Times

Posted by on April 28, 2011 - 4:12pm

An inexpensive instructional program to teach routine newborn care skills to midwives in Zambia resulted in a substantial reduction in the death rate of infants in the first week of life, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The study, published online in Pediatrics, was conducted by researchers in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research.  "Public health officials and policy makers sometimes assume that only expensive, high tech-care can reduce infant mortality," said Linda Wright, scientific director of the NICHD Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research. "The results of this study show that infant deaths can be prevented in resource-poor countries when only a modest investment is possible."

Each year, roughly 3.6 million infants die worldwide in the first 28 days of life, with the majority dying in the first seven days after birth, the study authors noted. Roughly 98 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries.

The researchers provided midwives from 18 first level delivery facilities in two Zambian cities with instruction in the World Health Organization's Essential Newborn Care Course. The course covers such newborn care basics as routine cleanliness, newborn resuscitation, keeping infants warm and dry, breast feeding, warning signs of potential problems, and dealing with common illnesses. The first level delivery facilities were small hospitals providing women with short term care — usually overnight — and attendance by a midwife, explained the study's senior author, Waldemar A. Carlo, M.D., a researcher in the department of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

After completing the course, the midwives taught what they learned to other midwives in the facilities where they worked. In turn, these midwives taught what they had learned to the new mothers in their delivery facilities. The researchers compared the experiences of roughly 20,000 infants born in the delivery facilities before the midwives received newborn care training with the experiences of 20,000 infants born after the training period.

Infant mortality during the first seven days of life dropped from 11.5 for every 1,000 births to 6.8 per 1,000 births. The total cost for the training program was $20,244. The researchers estimated that the program saved 97 lives during the study period, amounting to a cost of $208 per life saved.

The researchers also evaluated the study costs in terms of disability-adjusted life years, a measure used by the World Health Organization to estimate the number of years of healthy life lost to premature death or to ill health. By comparing the number of lives saved as a result of the training to the average life expectancy in Zambia, the researchers estimated that a reduction of one disability-adjusted life year cost $5.24.

The researchers estimated that it would cost $14,128 to maintain the program in the future. This cost would include equipment replacement, training manuals, and salary for the program's two part-time nurses.

An earlier study by the NICHD Global Network for Women's and Children's Health Research found that Essential Newborn Care training for birth attendants in six developing countries reduced the rate of stillbirths by 30 percent.