Women in India face many health problems such as malnutrition, breast cancer and reproductive issues. Many of them also do not have access to proper healthcare facilities.
In this article, we will take a look at the most common health issues faced by the women of India.
Health Issues Faced by Indian Women
Nutrition has a significant effect on an individual’s physical and psychological health. Lack of proper nutrition can lead to many diseases. According to a study, India has one of the highest numbers of malnourished women in the world. It is also observed that malnutrition rates increase as women enter adulthood.
In many rural households, the custom of the women eating only after the men have finished having their meals is still practised. In these cases, the women eat the leftovers from the meals. As a result, they do not get adequate nutrition.
Malnutrition is often observed among women who belong to the economically weaker sections of society. As the lack of proper nutrition lowers the body’s resistance, diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, Kwashiorkor, Marasmus and Anaemia are prevalent. Nutritional deficiencies in pregnant women may cause birth defects. It might also increase the complications of maternal mortality.
Poor Menstrual Hygiene
Another important issue among Indian women is the lack of menstrual hygiene. Even today, thousands of women do not have access to the necessary items for menstrual care. Many cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins. They are forced to use unhygienic items such as old clothes, leaves and husks. Some also use old socks and fill them up with sand to tie them around their waists. This is done in order to absorb the menstrual blood.
Around 23 million women drop out of their schools during their periods. Only about 2% to 3% of women in rural India use sanitary napkins. This is because the availability of napkins is less in rural areas. Moreover, menstruation is still considered a taboo topic in society. While in their period, many women are not allowed to cook or enter religious places. Women of all ages are instructed to stay inside and are forced to hide their complications.
As many of these women feel insecure and ashamed about their period complications, they do not seek proper medical care even if it is available to them.
Lack of Proper Maternal Care
Every day, around 800 women die across the globe due to issues related to pregnancy. It is estimated that more than 40,000 women in India die due to these problems. According to a recent study, more than 70% of the pregnant women in West Bengal do not have access to folic acid and iron tablets – very essential during pregnancy.
It has been observed that the women who were unable to access maternal care were between the ages of 35 to 50. Many women think that frequent checkups are not necessary. Some of them are also stopped by their families to get a check-up. Moreover, health care facilities are not affordable for everyone.
Dr Anita Sabherwal, a gynaecologist in Delhi says that women should always seek out a specialist on their own to talk about their problems.
According to a study conducted recently, India has more than 7 million children who have not received an immunisation. This number is the largest across the world. Gender biases and stereotypes also play a significant role in receiving an immunisation. In India, girls receive fewer vaccinations than boys do. Women in the weaker sections of the society are not aware of the importance of vaccination. Thus, they are not keen to take their children to the healthcare facilities to get immunised.
Even if many mothers take their daughters for vaccination, they are unaware of the requirement of a second or third dose of the medicine. Improper immunisation can lead to diseases such as measles, rubella, hepatitis, flu, tetanus and polio.
Mental health is an overlooked subject among Indian women. Research says that almost20 % of mothers suffer from postpartum depression, stress, anxiety, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More than 9 million teenagers between the ages of 9 to 17 suffer from mental health issues.
Domestic violence, peer pressure, social isolation, gender biases, inability to discuss mental issues and the absence of qualified mental specialists are some of the causes. Another important reason is the social stigma associated with mental health. Many women are shunned by their relatives or society when they face mental issues. Thus, most of their problems remain untreated.
Although many health programs are initiated by the government for tackling health issues among women, there still remains a huge gap. Awareness campaigns and advertisements are necessary to address the problems facing the country today. It is high time that the social stereotypes against women are abolished for the greater good of the entire society.