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New Global Alliance For Women’s Health Could Help Boost Global Economy By US$1 Trillion Annually By 2040

“Ensuring women have access to innovations in health care is one of the best investments that countries can make for their societies and their economies,” says Shyam Bishen, head of the Centre for Health and Healthcare.

Graphic from Shyam Singh Bishen’s Facebook page, dated January 18, 2024.

DAVOS, Jan 19 – A new World Economic Forum report released on January 17, 2024, shows that closing the women’s health gap would allow more women to live healthier, higher-quality lives, and provide an unprecedented boost to the global economy.

Closing the Women’s Health Gap: A $1 Trillion Opportunity to Improve Lives and Economies, developed in collaboration with the McKinsey Health Institute, analyses the health conditions that uniquely or disproportionately affect women and quantifies the health gap today and the potential economic boon of bridging it tomorrow.

Addressing shortcomings – which limit the ability of many women to engage in the workforce and earn a living for themselves and their families – could reduce the time women spend in poor health by almost two-thirds, improve the health outcomes and daily lives of over 3.9 billion people, and add US$1 trillion to the economy annually by 2040.

“Our analysis demonstrates that addressing the women’s health gap and investing in women’s health must be a priority for every country,” said Shyam Bishen, head of the Centre for Health and Healthcare at the World Economic Forum.

“Beyond improving women’s quality of life, ensuring women have access to innovations in health care is one of the best investments that countries can make for their societies and their economies.”

Critically, better health is correlated with economic prosperity. According to the report, women on average spend 25 per cent more of their lives in poor health than men.

Closing the health gap facing women globally could lead to a 1.7 per cent increase in per capita GDP, with every US$1 invested in these efforts potentially unlocking $3 in economic growth.

It urges for greater access to gender-specific care and calls on industry leaders to create new financing models and innovative business policies, with broad multi-sector collaboration highlighted as a crucial step towards achieving these goals.

“Investing in women’s health goes far beyond individual women. It is a direct investment in families, communities, societies and economies,” said Anita Zaidi, President, Gender Equality Division, at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Our collective future rests on closing the women’s health gap.”

In response to the report findings, and to bridge the women’s health gap, the World Economic Forum has launched the Global Alliance for Women’s Health, a multi-sector global platform that is centred on evidence that investing in women’s health would not only improve billions of individual lives, but also provide a revolutionary economic boon for societies and economies as a whole.

Forty-two organisations have expressed interest in joining the alliance, including government leaders and representatives from the private sector, entertainment industry and philanthropic space.

Together, they will pledge new commitments to advance the alliance’s priorities across three pillars: financing, science and innovation, and agenda-setting.

Key partners have already announced US$55 million in pledges to improve women’s health outcomes and shape a new future for women’s health across the world.

Key commitments towards women’s health include:

  • Tower Capital Group, an economic development entity with its affiliate non-profit Tower Council, intends to commit more than US$25 million in 2024 to overcome barriers and ensure equitable support for the highest unmet need categories in generational and women’ s health.
  • Rotary International will launch the Rotary Healthy Communities Challenge, an initiative that will provide US$30 million for disease prevention and treatment and maternal and child health in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zambia.
  • More than 40 partners have signed an open letter to raise a call for action to redesign healthcare with women in mind, an initiative led by Kearney.

“Quality, affordable and accessible healthcare, particularly in the context of women’s health, is a critical aspect of ensuring the wellbeing of women,” said Nisia Trindade Lima, minister of health of Brazil.

“This is a critical moment for a greater mobilisation across sectors to invest in women’s health, keeping in mind the imperatives of equity and integral care.”

The Global Alliance for Women’s Health alliance will be guided by an influential, multi-sector governing board that is made up of world leaders representing the diversity of stakeholders that must be involved to advance investments in women’s health.

Trindade Lima and Zaidi will serve as co-chairs of the alliance board.

The board is also joined by Catherine Russell, UNICEF executive director; Elisabeth Staudinger, member of the board, Siemens Healthineers; Nadia Fettah Alaoui, minister of economy and finance of Morocco; Nakhumicha S. Wafula, cabinet secretary for health of Kenya; Shyam Bishen, head of Health and Healthcare Centre, World Economic Forum; Per Falk, president, Ferring Pharmaceuticals; and Victor Dzau, president, National Academy of Medicine.

The alliance signals a growing commitment to prioritizing, protecting, and promoting the health of women and closing the health gap.

All World Economic Forum members are invited to join the health alliance.

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