New Global Alliance Pledges $55 Million To Boost Women’s Health

Investing in women’s health can boost the world economy, says a new report.

The final hours of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday saw the launch of a new  Global Alliance for Women’s Health which has the broad ambition of, “re-shaping the future of women’s health and the global economy.”

So far 42 organizations have expressed interest in joining the alliance, including government leaders and representatives from the private sector, entertainment industry, and philanthropic space. The alliance partners have already pledged $55 million.

The health alliance is a response to a WEF and McKinsey Health Institute report released this week that says improving women’s access to health services would allow more women to live healthier, higher-quality lives, and provide an unprecedented boost to the global economy.

Currently, health burdens for women are systematically underestimated, with datasets that exclude or undervalue important conditions, the report says. Women are also more likely to face barriers to care, and experience diagnostic delays and/or suboptimal treatment, according to the report.

The benefits of investing in women’s health have been estimated as high as $1 trillion annually by 2040 or an increase of 1.7% per capita GDP, according to the report. It would improve health outcomes for over 3.9 billion people globally, the report says, referring to the number of women in the global population.

The health alliance will pledge new commitments from governments, philanthropies, and pharmaceutical companies, among others, across three pillars: financing, science and innovation, and agenda-setting. So far partners have pledged $55 million to improve women’s health outcomes.

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

Investing in Women’s Health Linked to Economic Growth

Despite living longer than men, on average, women spend 25% more of their lives in poor health, the report found. Improved investment in women’s health services including, but also going beyond the standard maternal and child health packages available in most countries could improve that.

The report said improving diagnostics, data on women-specific conditions like ovarian cancer, and directing more investments towards women’s health and research is needed.

“Investing in women’s health shows a positive return on investment: for every $1 invested, ~$3 is projected in economic growth,” the report says.

Surprisingly the report found that the economic return of such investments would be greatest in higher-income settings where the ratio is around $3.5 returned to $1 invested due to their higher economic participation. But even in low-income settings the benefit would exceed the costs and would be an estimated $2 in benefits for every $1 invested – or double.

In low-income settings, every dollar invested in women’s health will result in twice the economic benefits, according to the latest report by the World Economic Forum.

“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, the Gender Equality Division, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a press release. “Our collective future rests on closing the women’s health gap.”

Key commitments towards women’s health

The new health alliance will be guided by a governing board, comprised of world leaders representing the diversity of stakeholders that must be involved to advance investments in women’s health.

As a part of the alliance, Tower Capital Group, an economic development entity will commit over $25 million in 2024. In addition, Rotary International will launch the Rotary Healthy Communities Challenge, an initiative that will provide $30 million for disease prevention and treatment, focusing on maternal and child health in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zambia.

“Quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare, particularly in the context of women’s health, is a critical aspect of ensuring the well-being of women,” said Nisia Trindade Lima, Brazil’s Health Minister who will also serve as the co-chair of the alliance along with Zaidi. “This is a critical moment for a greater mobilization across sectors to invest in women’s health, keeping in mind the imperatives of equity and integral care.”

Image Credits: WEF Glosing the Women’s Health Gap 2024 report.

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