Women and men have a different relation to diseases and therefore different needs. Aware of that, the European Commission published, on 21 January 2010, a report on women’s health in the European Union. You can find EPHA’s summarise of the report below.
Women and men are not equal in their relation to disease: some are more commonly touching women, others are specific to them, and treatments can also sometimes differ. These differences explained the Commission’s will to produce a report dedicated to women’s health.
The Report is divided in fields that state a number of conclusions:
demographic and socio-economic trends,
Demographic and socio-economic trends:
Women are generally more numerous that men and they have a higher life expectancy with the biggest difference in Lithuania where women live on average 11.7 years older than men.
They tend to give birth later in their life, ant the fertility rate is decreasing.
This part of the report describes trends for an important number of diseases. EPHA summarises its key findings:
Cardiovascular diseases are the cause of around 45% of deaths among women, with the Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) that represents the single most common cause of deaths in Europe. (one in seven women die from CHD).
The different relations existing between men and women to disease are illustrated through breast cancer that represent the dominant cause of cancer-related death among women.
Concerning sexual transmitted diseases, a woman is affected of HIV for 2 men.
Chlamydia infection, which in some cases lead to an infertility, is increasingly widespread around Europe, with an increase of more than 144% of cases in France and 210% in Sweden between 1997 and 2008.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are more widespread among elderly women with an considerable increasing sex difference after the age of 85.
Depression is more common in women with 2 times higher rate of suicides than for men. In parallel, girls use generally more tranquilisers and sedative substances than boys.
Even if men remain the biggest smokers, an increase of tobacco use has been observed among women, with in parallel, an increase in the smoking related-deaths.
Data on alcohol are limited. Existing figures suggest that men drink more than women. However, alcohol has consequences specific to women’s health such as prenatal harm and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).
There is no clear difference between the prevalence of obesity within women and men, with an increase for both categories. However, figures suggest that the highest percentages of women concerned by obesity are reached in Germany, Austria and the UK.
Data on healthcare quality, access and costs are rare. Therefore no clear conclusion is stated.
The data collected and analysed in the Report concern women aged 15 years and beyond, coming from the 27 Member States and the European Economic Area. Even if the report illustrates the will of the EU to provide information on women’s health, it recognizes that important data are still missing, on health determinants and healthcare in particular.
The European Commission is planning to publish the first European Men’s health Report in Spring 2011.
For further information:
EPHA related articles:
European Action on Sexual Health
EPHA’s Response to the Commission Follow-up Strategy to the Roadmap on Gender Equality between Women and Men
Poverty Eradication and Sexual and Reproductive Health
Commission Health Inequalities Consultation