Access to health care a distant dream for most Indian women

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Though coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot when it comes to the innovation of healthcare industry, there are certain rudimentary thoughts especially when it comes to accessing basic healthcare facilities for fair sex it will still take some time to undergo some change. Gender-biased discrimination has always been there and it creates negative impact on women’s health. According to a joint study conducted by researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Indian Statistical Institute, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, and Harvard University, it states that out of 2,377,028 outpatients who visited the AIIMS medical facility from January to December 2016. only 37% of women got access to health care, as compared to 67% of men.

Moreover, the mental conditioning of Indian society has always asked women to have patience, silence and bear the physical or mental pain. Health of a woman has never been a priority in our country. Hardly anybody wants to invest in women’s health or talk about it. But, somehow it is also the fault of women, who never raised their voice against it and chose to keep silent about their health issues. Conservative upbringing or their low self-esteem came in the way of demanding access to a doctor.

COVID-19 pandemic has cut access to sexual and reproductive healthcare

According to a survey by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), 5,633 static and mobile clinics and community-based care outlets have already closed because of the outbreak, across 64 countries. No doubt coronavirus has led to many innovations in medical science but one cannot take away the fact that it’s a health crisis across every setting, including sexual and reproductive healthcare. Though in urban set up the scenario is not that gloomy, but in rural set-up the scenario is dismal. Hardly primary clinics are providing any tele or video consultation services to the patients, who also don’t have smartphones to access that. These figures show that millions of women and girls across the world now face an even greater challenge in trying to take care of their own health and bodies. They have needs that cannot wait, but they are facing a lack of time, lack of choice and lack of access to essential sexual and reproductive health services. If these losses can’t be course-corrected the consequences for women and girls will be catastrophic; resulting in loss of health, autonomy and life.

Way forward

Pragmatic changes in policies

Government should make realistic and sensible changes to policies and legal frameworks making it easier for women so that they can access quality care and also get medication virtually. Access to digihealth facilities like telemedicine and the ability to take medicines in their own homes, such as medical abortion medication, already have a strong evidence base and should become standard.

Knowledge of contraceptives

Lack of knowledge and access to contraceptives lead to unplanned pregnancies and abortion. Many women across the globe have a misconception that some of the birth control pills cause abortions, which is not the case. Therefore it’s pivotal to increase access and make contraception widely and freely available, Access to health care provides a holistic approach in one’s overall physical, social, and mental health status and quality of life.

Authored By-Leo Shastri, Director – Operations & Strategy, Usha Exim Private Limited

Mr. Leo Shastri, Director – Operations & Strategy, Usha Exim Private Limited

Born in a family of fair traders from Delhi, it was not a tough call for Mr. Leo Shastri to follow the family’s rich legacy as he always feels strongly for injustice, prejudice and poverty. After studying filmmaking and working on various small projects in different industries like education and entertainment, Mr. Shastri finally decided to go back to his roots and dedicate his near future to the Usha Exim Private Limited. With the aim of reaching new heights and creating work opportunities for the economically disadvantaged section of the society, he joined the certified fair trade multi-product export organization as a Director of Operations & Strategy.

As the Director of Operations & Strategy, his role is to ensure everyone is doing their job well right from accounts & logistics to quality control of production. Besides that, he also manages all aspects related to the growth of the organization and its expansion as well as implementation plans. The inheritance of his grandfather, Late Prof. Shyam S. Sharma –who was called ‘The Father of Fair Trade in Asia‘–  always inspires  him to do something extra-ordinary for the society because he has grown up hearing about the beautiful concept of ‘World Family’. He still remembers how his grandfather used to tell him that the whole world is our family, challenged with injustice, prejudice and poverty and our target would be to remove miseries from our world.

An avid fair trader, his goal as an entrepreneur is to eradicate poverty and unfair practices in society through alternative trade methods. He would like to believe in the motto ‘Entrepreneur for a cause’. In his free time, he travels from village to village to explore the human diversities across India and understand the rural mindset.  His initiatives made him and his company win many laurels which include India 500 Quality Leader Award 2020 for Quality Excellence and India 5000 Best MSME Award 2020 for Quality Excellence.