Advancing Women's Health in Africa Via a Data Driven Roadmap
To do that, they need access to robust, quality data that disaggregates this information by gender and exposes the inequities and what’s driving them. Critical data for global, regional and national development policymaking is still lacking. Many governments still do not have access to adequate data on their entire populations. This is particularly true for the poorest and most marginalized. The challenge is that in most of the world, these data are at best lacking, or at worst, non-existent.
The Hologic Global Women’s Health Index is a global indicator of a healthy future for women
What is the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index?
About Gallup’s World Poll
What does the Index measure?
Why is the Index important?
What are the goals for the Index?
How does Africa compare to the world?
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia
Every country or territory has work to do
• Every country or territory has room to improve. Not one country or territory scores higher than a 69 on the Index.
• The countries and territories with the lowest scores on the Index all share high income inequality and weak or destabilized infrastructure for healthcare.
• The wide range in overall Index scores at the regional level, from a high of 64 in Australia/New Zealand to a low of 44 in South America illustrates the health inequity that exists for women across the planet. Sub- Saharan Africa (48) and Northern Africa (47) indicate women having negative health and healthcare experiences in this region.
• Mali (42), Tunisia (42), Republic of Congo (38) and Gabon (38) all placed within the bottom ten countries of the of the Index.
The world is weak on preventive care
• On average, one in three women worldwide had their blood pressure tested in the previous 12 months — despite heart disease being the leading cause of death globally for women and men.
• Worldwide, just 12% of women said in 2020 that they have been tested for any type of cancer in the past 12 months.
• Worldwide, about one in five (19%) women reported being tested in the previous 12 months for diabetes, the sixth leading cause of death for women globally.
• Fewer than one in nine women had been tested for sexually transmitted diseases or infections — all of which are risk factors for HIV, cancer and infertility — in the previous 12 months.
• Country-level scores on the Preventive Care dimension in Africa range from a low of 8 in Ivory Coast, 10 in Mali, 11 in Nigeria and Ghana, 12 in Benin and Guinea to a high of 40 in Zambia and 43 in South Africa.
• Both Zambia and South Africa’s scores were boosted by relatively high levels of testing for high blood pressure and STDs/STIs.
• However, in contrast, in Ivory Coast, just 14% of women were tested for high blood pressure in the past year; less than 10% were tested for any of the other conditions.
• In Tanzania, for example, although 100% of women polled say regular check-ups improve women’s health, 70% say they had spoken with a healthcare professional in the past 12 months. The availability of healthcare and other social barriers may be a factor into the disconnect. In Tanzania, there is less than one doctor for every 1,000 people in the country.
Women’s emotional health suffered
• About four in 10 women in 2020 say they experienced worry (40%) and stress (38%) during a lot of the day before the survey, while about one in four say they experienced sadness (26%) and anger (23%).
• Women — along with the world in 2020 — were feeling the worst they had in 15 years. Global experiences of worry, stress, sadness and anger continued to rise in 2020 and set new records.
• Country-level scores on the Emotional Health dimension in Africa range from a low of 48 in Tunisia and Ivory Coast to a high of 84 in Mauritius, where women are least likely to experience negative feelings on a daily basis.
Well over half a billion women do not feel safe walking alone at night
• Higher scores on the Opinions of Health and Safety dimension mean more women feel safe and are satisfied with the quality and availability of healthcare where they live. Overall, women worldwide score a 70 on the Opinions of Health and Safety dimension.
• Majorities of women in sub-Saharan African countries say they do not feel safe walking alone at night where they live. Many of these countries have high intentional homicide rates.
• At the country level, women’s scores on the Opinions of Health and Safety dimension in Africa fall below the average – such as Gabon scoring the lowest (below 35).
Millions struggling with basic needs
• In 2020, 34% of women — or nearly 900 million women — struggled to afford food in the past year.
• Nearly three in 10 (29%) women — or nearly 700 million — say there had been times in the past year when they were unable to afford adequate shelter.
• Countries with the lowest scores on the Basic Needs dimension are almost all sub-Saharan African and Latin American countries — the two regions where women are struggling most to meet their basic needs.
• In Namibia, for example, which scores the worst in the world on Basic Needs, the percentage of women who could not afford food for their families has been holding above 70% since 2019. Drought and food shortages in the past few years have stressed low-wage earners in this upper-middle-income country.
• Zimbabwe (33), Kenya (33), Gabon (33), Zambia (34), Cameroon (34), Nigeria (38) and Benin (38) also score in the bottom set of countries for Women’s Basic Needs.
Individual Health: The World Needs to Help Women Manage Pain
• More than half a billion women have health problems that keep them from normal activities.
• Countries with the lowest scores for women’s Individual Health are largely a mix of low to lower middle-income countries. In nearly all these countries, at least half of women report experiencing pain the previous day.
• In places such as Congo and Senegal, the percentage of women reporting health problems is about twice the global average. In a number of these countries, the picture in 2020 looked more dire than the previous year.
• In Egypt, which has the lowest score on this dimension, the percentage of women reporting that they experienced pain rose from 46% to a world-high 67%, and the percentage with health problems rose from 27% to 35%.
Data is Key
Yet, progress in translating these commitments into expanded domestic resources for health, effective development assistance, and ultimately, equitable and quality health services, and increased financial protection, has been slow. Countries that achieve their UHC targets by 2030 will eliminate preventable maternal and child deaths, strengthen resilience to public health emergencies, reduce financial hardship linked to illness, and strengthen the foundations for long-term economic growth. Sadly, there’s little data to measure the continent’s progress.
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