News / Health

    Life Expectancy Gap Widens Between Women in Rich and Poor Countries

    Lisa Schlein
    The World Health Organization reports women aged 50 and older globally are healthier now than they were 20 and 30 years ago.   But while women’s health has improved, a new WHO study finds the gap in life expectancy is widening between older women in rich and poor countries.

    The World Health Organization reports heart disease and stroke and cancers are the leading causes of death of women aged 50 years and older worldwide.  But, it notes these deaths occur at earlier ages in the developing countries.

    The study is one of the first to analyze the causes of death of women aged 50 and more from a range of rich and poor countries.  It finds many of these women are meeting an early death because they live in countries that lack the money and resources to prevent, detect and treat non-communicable diseases.

    The head of the WHO Mortality and Burden of Disease Unit, Colin Mathers, says developed countries have the health systems and means to reduce and control cardiovascular problems.  He tells VOA screening and treatment programs also are successfully reducing the incidence of breast and cervix cancers.

    He notes cervical cancer is one of the leading cancers in African women.  He says the illness is largely preventable, but African countries have fewer resources to treat it.

    “There is simply not enough money to provide high quality health care to everyone that is accessible.  And, also a matter of human resources, that there often are not enough trained doctors and nurses and other health professionals in the country.  And, that is made worse by the brain drain where African nurses can migrate to high-income countries to get jobs in their health systems and so some of the training that is done in developing countries ends up not benefiting them," he said.

    Dr. Mathers says donors give relatively little money toward the problem of non-communicable diseases in African countries because they tend to focus on reducing maternal mortality.  While this is understandable, he notes maternal mortality rates are going down substantially.  At the same time, he says death rates among older women are going up, so it is time for donors to rethink their priorities.

    Thanks to improvements in health, the Study finds women over 50, on average, have gained 3.5 years in life expectancy over the past 20 years.  It notes older women in Germany and Japan now can expect to live to 84 and 88 years respectively and women in many other developed countries can expect to live to age 83 or 84.

    The report says life expectancy for women in the poorer countries is about 10 years less.  It notes women in Eastern Europe also die at an earlier age because of high rates of cardiovascular disease, accidents, and high alcohol consumption.

    Dr. Mathers says major risk factors for older women include smoking, the harmful use of alcohol, overweight and obesity.

    “Many of the problems faced by older women start earlier in life.  So, smoking for example-people typically develop the habit at earlier ages.  So, it is not only about intervening in older years-improving conditions and education and providing information to younger people can ultimately assist in improving health at older ages as well," he said.

    The World Health Organization says the epidemic of chronic diseases can be reversed with available cost-effective ways to address common non-communicable diseases.  These include prevention, early diagnosis and management of high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol.

    The study says inexpensive and simple tests for the screening and early detection of cervical cancer can save many lives.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.