NSW women are healthier than ever

Brad Buzzard 7 December 2017

Woman getting ready for run and stretching her right leg

But experts say there’s more to be done.

The overall health of NSW women is better than ever according to a newly released women's health snapshot.

The 2017 Health and Wellbeing Report, which is part of the Women in NSW report series, shows the number of deaths from coronary heart disease has nearly halved since 2002. It is probably no coincidence that the number of female smokers has also halved since that time.

Women are also more physically active than ever.

Minister for Women Tanya Davies said we should celebrate these results, but that there is more work to be done.

“There are still factors that impact the overall health of women in NSW, such as where women live and their socioeconomic status,” Davies said in a statement.

Some of the more concerning findings centre on cancer, the leading cause of death for NSW women aged 45-74. One in four women in NSW will die from cancer, yet not enough are being screened.

In the two years leading up to December 2016, more than 44% of women failed to receive a pap test to screen for cervical cancer. There are also socioeconomic factors at play; Aboriginal and linguistically diverse women are less likely than the general population to screen for breast cancer.

Obesity is also a problem. Since 2002, the proportion of women who were obese has gradually increased from 15% to 21%. The figure is higher for women in regional and remote areas of NSW.

While not as visceral as cancer and obesity, mental health is also a concern. The study shows that 14% of all women reported experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, with those aged 16-24 the most affected (21.6%). And almost 20% of women aged 16 years or older engage in risky drinking behaviours.

Davies says the NSW Government and the community need to continue working together to improve health education and access to services.

“The NSW Government is responding to these challenges to improve health and reduce inequity… however, good health can only be achieved by working together with the community and across Government departments,” Davies said in her forward to the report.

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