Women’s health in the UK stagnates while other countries progress

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New data reveals that women’s health in the UK has not improved across a three-year period, with a lack of progress in preventive care and reduced satisfaction with pregnancy care causing particular concern.1

The third annual Hologic Global Women’s Health Index, in partnership with leading analytics firm Gallup, is one of the world’s largest surveys of women’s health and well-being. The Index, representing the feelings, opinions and experiences of 97% of the world’s women and girls aged 15 and above, reveals worrying trends in women’s health globally.

The Index, covering five interlocking dimensions of women’s health (Preventive Care, Basic Needs, Opinions of Health and Safety, Individual Health and Emotional Health) assigns a score (from one to 100) to each of 143 countries and territories. In the latest data, the UK has stagnated at a score of 60 out of 100, the same result as the previous year.1 This represents a fall of seven places in the global rankings, where the UK now sits at 37.1

This fall is due to multiple factors, including more countries being added to the Index in 2022, as well as other countries leapfrogging the UK. For example, Poland improved by 4 points – jumping into the top 10 countries with a score of 64.

Notably, the UK continues to lag behind the EU when it comes to preventive care testing, particularly in the areas of high blood pressure (44% vs 47%), cancer (19% vs 20%), diabetes (22% vs 24%) and STIs (5% vs 10%).1

The Index also demonstrates a decline in women’s satisfaction with pregnancy care in the UK, with 74% believing such care in the UK was of high quality versus 77% in the previous year.1 This finding echoes a report from the Care Quality Commission, which noted a deterioration in maternity care over the last five years. This data emphasises the pressing need for systemic improvements in the support and care provided to pregnant women across the country.

Furthermore, other results from the Index present a significant concern regarding the emotional well-being of women in the UK. Emotional health is a fundamental component of overall women’s health and emphasises the importance of access to counselling and support services. The findings indicate year-on-year decline in markers of emotional health, where currently at least 1 in 6 women in the UK reported experiencing negative emotions the day before being surveyed.1 This includes feelings of worry (38%), sadness (32%), stress (39%) and anger (17%), all of which are higher than the averages observed across the EU.1

Notably, sadness has seen a continuous increase over the past years, with nearly 1 in 3 women (32%) feeling sad the previous day compared to 28% the year before, marking the second consecutive year of increased sadness.

“This third year of findings continues to call for action and improvement. It is crucial that we address these gaps in women’s healthcare with urgency and commitment, particularly as over 1 in 4 (26%) of women have health problems that prevent them from engaging in normal activity,”

Tim Simpson, General Manager for Hologic UK & Ireland.

Tim adds, “The Hologic Global Women’s Health Index serves as a comprehensive benchmark of women’s health to help fill a critical gap in what the world knows about the well-being of 50% of the world’s population.”

Dr Ranee Thakar, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, underscored the importance of data about women’s health.

“As an organisation dedicated to improving women’s healthcare across the world, the RCOG welcomes Hologic’s new women’s health index as an important data source to measure and monitor key women’s health indicators,” she said. “This work underscores the critical need for governments, non-governmental organisations and policy-makers to prioritise women’s health and invest in interventions that puts women’s best interests first. Through strategic investments in research, decision-makers can ensure every woman and girl has access to high-quality healthcare, fostering a healthier and more equitable future for all.”

Hologic remains dedicated to working with healthcare professionals, policy-makers and communities to drive meaningful change and improve health outcomes for women everywhere.

For more information about the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index and to read the full global report, visit womenshealthindex.com.

Sources:

  1. Hologic. Hologic Global Women’s Health Index. United Kingdom Year 3 Results. 2022. MISC-09031.
  2. Hologic. The Hologic Global Women’s Health Index. Pathways to a Healthy Future For Women. Year 3 Global Report Executive Summary. 2022. MKL-01055 Rev 002.
  3. Care Quality Commission. [Internet] Maternity improvements are too slow. [Cited: 2023 December 20] Available at:

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