Health

The prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases is higher among females in the Cayman Islands. This gender gap is widest for persons with high blood pressure. Among females, 106 of every 1,000 reported having high blood pressure, while 71 of every 1,000 males reported having the same illness in the 2010 Census of Population and Housing.

Prevalence of chronic, non-communicable disease

 

According to Heart Health Cayman, heart disease continues to be the primary cause of death in the Cayman Islands, spurred in part by uncontrolled high blood pressure and diabetes as well as poor diet and genetic predisposition.

Our sex and gender impact our health in many different ways. Males and females have different health concerns based on their sex, which refers to our biology and physical realities. Our hormones, anatomy and reproductive systems lead to unique health care needs. For example, only females require gynaecological or maternal health care and only males can get prostate or testicular cancer.

There are also many gender issues in health. The distinct roles and behaviors of men and women, which are dictated by society's gender norms and values, lead to differences and inequalities in health status and access to health care.

In Western societies, masculinity is often associated with being active and aggressive and expressing anger without displaying sadness, while femininity is associated with passivity and compliance and expressing sadness without displaying anger. Males and females are taught to cope with life differently, and relying on only socially-approved behaviour limits the range of coping strategies that can be employed in a particular situation.

These traditional attitudes have different negative effects on physical, mental, social and emotional health when females internalise problem behaviours and males externalise problem behaviours.

For example, females are generally at greater risk for illnesses such as:

  • chronic non-communicable diseases
  • depression, anxiety
  • low self-esteem, eating disorders

while males are often at greater risk for:

  • injury or death from male-on-male violence, crime, risky behaviour
  • poor diet, smoking, alcohol and drug use and abuse
  • anti-social personality disorders

Gender also determines what is valued in men and women and boys and girls. One of the health consequences of females being valued for their physical beauty is that they may fear being unattractive, especially as it relates to weight. A survey by the American Psychological Association found that after three minutes of looking at a fashion magazine, 70% of women feel depressed, guilty, and ashamed. The “hazards of being male” relate more to competitiveness, a focus on obtaining power and control, and being successful at all costs. This often leads males to impulsivity, sensation seeking, anti-social behaviour and violence that put their health - and often their lives - at risk.

Violence also has serious health consequences for women. According to the World Health Organisation, between 15% and 71% of women around the world have suffered physical or sexual violence committed by an intimate male partner at some point in their lives. The abuse cuts across all social and economic backgrounds and has serious health consequences for women, from injuries to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, depression, chronic diseases and even death.

The way that we are socialised and our gender ideologies may also cause males and females to approach their own well-being differently. For example, females are more likely to access health services and males tend to avoid preventive services and mental health care in particular. Research, interventions, health system reforms, health education, health outreach, and health policies and programmes should all incorporate a gender perspective to account for the specific needs of men and women and boys and girls.

Ideas about gender are socially constructed and constantly changing. When we start to address these stereotypes and inequalities, boys and girls and men and women can all learn positive ways to promote well-being. It is therefore important to increase awareness of the role of gender norms, values, and inequality in perpetuating disease, disability, and death, and to promote gender equality through social change.

 

Healthy Nation
The Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture believes that people should always be at the centre of their endeavours. Which is why they are in the business of creating social and physical environments in which people can be healthy, lead quality lives, and feel a strong sense of who they are and what they can achieve. Click here to find out more about the first ever comprehensive health survey in the Cayman Islands and government policy on health issues.

Cayman Islands Highlights
The Pan American Health Organisation is an international public health agency working to improve health and living standards of the people of the Americas. It is part of the United Nations system, serving as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organisation and as the health organisation of the Inter-American System. This webpage analyses the health situation in the Cayman Islands through 2000, highlighting basic health indicators, trends and health system responses.

Gender and Health
The World Health Organisation works with countries to identify the effects of gender differences and inequalities on the health of men and women and to design responses. Distinct roles and behaviours give rise to gender inequalities, which in turn lead to inequities between men and women in both health status and health care.

Men’s Health
Gender in health is often taken to mean women's issues. To respond to gender inequities in health, men's health status and behaviour must be recognised as resulting as much from the social construction of gender as women's. One must also recognise that improving women’s health and achieving gender equity require assessing and involving men in key areas such as sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, child and adolescent health and gender-based violence.

Gender Roles, Externalizing Behaviors, and Substance Use Among Mexican-American Adolescents
This study summarises and links to a diverse body of research on gender and health and gives a general and comprehensive overview of gender and gender roles and how these ideas affect instrumentality/expressivity and externalising/internalising problem behaviours among males and females. This includes both positive (or “adaptive”) aspects and negative (or “maladaptive”) aspects of masculinity and femininity. The focus of the quantitative research and results are specific to Mexican-American adolescents and how positive and negative gender roles correlated with internalising and externalising problem behaviours and substance use. After discussing the results, the authors also outline some implications for practice.

Violence Against Women
World Health Organisation fact sheet on intimate partner and sexual violence against women.

Are Magazine Covers Eating Into Your Self-Esteem?
Most celebrities look good in real life, but on a fashion cover, their good looks have been transformed into near-perfection by Photoshop. This photo editing software, gets rid of perceivable flaws that great lighting and hair and make up can’t fix. However, a constant dose of such heavily edited photos is not healthy. In fact, research has shown that many women can’t bear the Photoshopped images they see in magazines. The author argues that the only cure for this Photoshop envy is to keep the sham firmly in mind. Instead of trying to struggle to be as thin and attractive as the models in the photographs and feeling bad for not being able to do so, it is far healthier for a woman to strive to be a better version of herself.

Video game magazines may harm boys’ body image
This brief overview of a 2006 study shows that boys are not immune to body image issues from magazines. Hypermuscular characters found in video game magazines might be responsible for some boys reporting more concern about their body size compared with boys who read fitness and fashion magazines instead. Sports magazines elicited a similar, but weaker effect - perhaps because their image of masculinity is slightly more realistic, one researcher speculated.