Advances in medical research and technology have led to a reduction in fatalities in women over 50 due to non-communicable diseases, which are the biggest cause of death around the globe. Developed countries have implemented various measures which have improved the health and the life-expectancy of these women. Healthcare for women in less-developed countries is, however, lagging behind. This has led to an ever-increasing gap between the life expectancies of women in rich and poor countries.
According to the latest study conducted by the WHO, the main causes of death of women over the age of 50 are cancer and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
These deaths occur at a comparatively younger age in the poorer countries than in the developed world. This suggests that there is a lack of adequate systems for prevention, detection and treatment of these diseases in many countries.
Findings and Suggestions
The authors of the study claim that due to the decrease in maternal mortality, there is a growing number of older women in these countries, and health policies and systems in developing countries need to be changed accordingly. A system for prevention and early diagnosis needs to be established in order to counter this growing epidemic of chronic illnesses.
One of the suggestions made by the study is to reduce the exposure of women to tobacco and harmful use of alcohol, in the early years. Strengthening the health care system is key.
Although all these may seem expensive for the government, it can actually turn out to be much cheaper in the long run. It is cheaper to manage and treat high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, etc when younger than treating the severe health problems caused by them in later years. By building on the existing healthcare system, countries can promote prevention, early detection and management of these high risk illnesses as well as cancers.
An example of this is gestational diabetes. If mothers receive the care that they require during their pregnancy, the chances of them being affected by obesity and diabetes later in life decreases and thus the government actually has to spend less.
The developed countries have taken measures of this kind 20-30 years ago and the results are visible today. According to the studies, in these countries fewer women over the age of 50 die of stroke, heart disease or diabetes than 30 years ago. All this leads to the increase of women’s life expectancy after the age of 50.