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Health for all and women

Reported By : Dr. Priyadarshini, Senior Resident, Department of Microbiology, MGMMC, Jamshedpur.

Published On : March 8, 2021

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The word hygiene has been derived from the name of the Greek deity Hygeia – the goddess of cleanliness, health, and longevity. But the irony is that women are removed farthest from the ideal states of all the attributes represented by the deity.

The health indicators of India are not so promising at present and it does not help that India has been ranked the worst in terms of gender inequality by WEF. Women in India face a multitude of problems which affects the economy. March 8th is observed as International Women’s Day, so to mark this day, let us look at some of the common problems ailing them.
Malnutrition: Nutrition plays a major role in overall health of an individual. India currently has the highest rates of malnourished women among the developing countries and the main driver of malnutrition is gender specific selection and food distribution. This does not only affect one generation but the future generation as well because of its direct association with maternal mortality and birth defects in child. So, it is very important that women take care of their nutrition and their family participates in it too.
Cancer and awareness: We all should be aware of our body so that early identification and timely intervention can be done. However, certain cancers are gender specific or more likely to affect women such as Breast cancer, Cervical cancer, etc. Women need to stay aware and proactively seek care instead of suffering in silence.
STDs/STIs: Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections affect both the genders but the data and statistics on women paints a grimmer picture. Approximately half of the HIV/AIDS sufferers are women, and they are more likely to succumb to AIDS related complications because even today a middle-class woman is dependent on the male members of the family to seek healthcare. In addition to it, pregnancy and STDs/STIs lead to complications for the mother as well as the child, which if ignored will affect the family. And the numerous taboo and stigma attributed to disease and women does not help the case.
Mental health: One of the most common disorders that disproportionately affect women in low-income countries is depression. Indian women suffer from depression at higher rates than Indian men. Indian women who are faced with greater degrees of poverty and gender disadvantage show a higher rate of depression and other mental disorders. The difficulties associated with interpersonal relationships—most often marital relationships—and economic disparities have been cited as the main social drivers of depression. It was found that Indian women typically describe the somatic symptoms rather than the emotional and psychological stressors that trigger the symptoms of depression. Mothers are often blamed for the birth of a female child which adds to the woes of postnatal depression. Furthermore, women who are unmarried, divorced, widowed or infertile often face additional pressures that add to their overall stress level. Women are ostracised for making unorthodox choices such as single motherhood,
Reproductive health: Even when an entire subject of medicine is devoted to reproductive health of women and childbirth, there is a prevalence of ignorance among women of all ages. Consequently, they do not utilise the amenities to which they are entitled and end up with complications which could have been avoided easily with right information, prevention, and timely intervention. While it is the norm in developed countries to get routine check-up by an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, it is still not so in our country.
Although India has witnessed dramatic growth over the last two decades, maternal mortality remains stubbornly high in comparison to many developing nations. Custom may also dictate that maternal care is unnecessary. Arrival at a medical institution is often largely complicated by distance. Women may not have access to transportation, or they may not be able to reach an institution for childbirth on their own. Even if a woman chooses to seek maternal care and can successfully access a medical facility, poor quality of care can deter care utilization. Resources such as midwives, qualified doctors, or ambulances are not readily available at all hospitals; rural areas are especially lacking in these resources, leading to significantly lower ANC utilization compared to urban areas.

There is a lot to be done by us as a society, but it is ultimately the women who should bear the torch of self-care and the rest shall follow. Let us look as to what can women do from their end to address these health issues.

Self – reliant: IT revolution has brought the world closer and it is not difficult to reach the marginalised societies so that basic amenities and information be made available to every Indian citizen. Women must be active participants in their healthcare and seek whatever is deemed necessary on their own.
Break the wall of stigma: The toxic idea that women are a liability, and an ill woman is a burden has perpetuated through years of patriarchy. It will not be easy to wash away the poison and will need time and collective effort. However, women can take charge and stop associating their self-worth and ailment and the world will stand by you in sickness and in health.
Proper nutrition: It is ironical that the person who is in-charge of kitchen is most likely to suffer from malnutrition. Women should start with eating right in whatever possible manner and stop putting themselves last.
Seek-care: Women should stop ignoring their physical and mental ailments and seek timely care. Mental and physical illness are not mutually exclusive, and they commonly go hand in hand.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. It indicates that a “challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change”. This year, we can all choose to challenge the health issues that have been holding us back and join hands and make the world a better place.


Khabar Khand

The Khabar Khand. Opinion of Democracy

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