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Factors affecting women’s health in India

Health Problems of Indian Women

Factors affecting women’s health in India-We find discrimination against women in every walk of life. Especially, our rural women are a deprived lot in terms of education, employment and social recognition. The situation is much grimmer when we talk about the basic healthcare of women in villages. Medical guidance and care is denied to them.

In our society, particularly the poor, people are considered fit or healthy so long as they are productive. In a woman’s case the ability to perform unpaid domestic labour called housework, child-bearing and child-rearing are the main criteria for measuring productivity. In villages, inability to perform these functions is viewed with concern and, initially, for some time, the family provides support in remedying the defect. However, if the ‘illness’ is chronic and does not allow the patient to be productive over a long period, the family stops bothering about it and even withdraws

its support to the woman concerned. Women, as a group, often suffer more from chronic illnesses like backache, white discharge, depression and weakness. If a woman is childless or infertile, her position gets degraded and this further reduces her chances of getting good quality healthcare.

Twenty-seven per cent of the world’s births occur in South Asia but the region accounts for more than fifty per cent of maternal deaths. In spite of the fact that formal health infrastructure is presumed to exist all over the country, more maternal deaths occur in India in one week than in whole of the Europe in an entire year. Material and human constraints have contributed to their sad state of affairs, which is further aggravated by lack of commitment, planning, managerial skills and supervision at all levels. While maternal deaths among women in small villages or city slums do not make headlines, they signals the daily tragedies of women’s lives and at the same time reflect how the world’s poverty has been feminised. There is a paradox of prenatal mortality leading to increased childbirths, increased maternal and infant mortality with poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, infections leading to increased obstetric problems, increased pregnancy leading to increased mortality, and the vicious cycle goes on. Besides the agony, and sense of guilt and helplessness that a woman has after a child’s death, she also immediately pays a high personal price by having to bear more children to replace the dead one, irrespective of her own weak health and desire. A womanstretches and exerts herself to create a counteracting buffer by undergoing an enormous number of conceptions, which further leads to maternal deaths. In our country while thousands of women die, millions more are permanently disabled; they live with the disorders out of sheer ignorance, apathy, household chores, nonavailability of means to reach hospitals, and so on.

Ignorance, illiteracy, poverty, lack of communication and transport add to the problems of inadequate availability of appropriate maternal care at desired places. So, women need to be educated about their own health and men need far greater awareness about the reproductive health problems women face.

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