Half of women’s help in healthcare globally is unheeded

Washington, June 5 (IANS) Women’s contribution to healthcare constitutes nearly five percent of global GDP – around $3 trillion – but nearly half of this is unpaid and unrecognised, shows a new report.

The women’s distinctive contribution to society is under-recognised and undervalued — economically, socially, politically, and culturally.

The report underlines that women are important providers as much as recipients of health care, and that globally, their changing needs in both of these respects are not being met.

“It’s time to acknowledge women’s comprehensive health needs throughout their lives, and their productive contributions to health care and society as a whole, as well as their similarly important roles as mothers and homemakers,” said Ana Langer, head of the Women and Health Initiative at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, who co-led the commission.

“We urge the global health community and policymakers worldwide to embrace a more holistic – and realistic – understanding of women and health,” Langer said.

The commission, which brought together leading thinkers, heads of programmes, and activists from around the world, examines the complex links between biological, economic and social factors in improving women’s health throughout their lives.

“Women are undervalued and unsupported by the systems in which they work, and this problem is exacerbated by inequitable access to healthcare experienced by too many women worldwide – particularly those in the most vulnerable groups,” Langer said.

Gender equality and empowerment must be central to the policies and interventions used to improve healthcare and to human, social and economic development, especially in the post-2015 era, the authors conclude.

The report was published in The Lancet.

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