Life Expectancy Gap between Women in Rich and Poor Countries Widens

October 19, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. distressing [dih-STRES-ing] (adj.) –  causing sorrow or suffering
Example: Knowing that many people die in Africa due to malaria is very distressing.

2. exacerbate [ig-ZAS-er-beyt, ek-SAS-] (v.) – to worsen an already bad situation
Example: Staff shortages in hospitals exacerbate mortality in poor countries.

3. diagnosis [dahy-uh g-NOH-sis] (n.) – an analysis that determines the nature of a problem
Example: Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in prolonging a person’s life.

4. screening [SKREE-ning] (n.) – the systematic process of examining or assessing something
Example: Cervical cancer screening may give early diagnosis to women over 20 years old.

5. preventable [pri-VENT -uh-buh l] (adj.) – can be avoided
Example: Some diseases are preventable especially if a person has a healthy lifestyle.


Read the text below.
A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows a distressing growth in the gap between the life expectancy of women in poor and rich countries. 

Although the health of 50-year-old women has improved, the WHO warned that the life expectancy gap could further exacerbate if chronic health conditions are not diagnosed and treated.

In wealthier countries, lots of progress has been made in terms of prevention and treatment of diseases, thus reducing the number of early deaths. For instance, an older woman in Germany can now expect to live for 84 years, while those in Japan may live up to 88 years.

On the other hand, women in poor countries do not show improvement in terms of life span due to the lack of treatment resources. Among these poor countries are the ones found in Africa. Although some diseases are preventable, African countries have no enough means for treatment. With this condition, the life expectancy of women in poorer countries dropped by 10 years.

In general, there are major risk factors that can lessen women’s life expectancy. These factors include smoking, the harmful use of alcohol, overweight, and obesity, which may cause heart diseases, stroke, and cancer. These health problems may have greater effect to a woman’s health if they started at an earlier age.

On a positive note, the WHO suggests some known and cost-effective ways to address the said non-communicable diseases and to further improve women’s life expectancy. Among the effective measures are prevention, early diagnosis and management of high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol, and screening and treatment for cancers.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, how else can women in poor countries improve their life expectancy?
·         Why else do you think women in poor countries die at a younger age?

Discussion B

·         How can the government help in preventing low life expectancy in a country?
·         How do you think the population’s low life expectancy can affect a country?


October 19, 2013