Tales that "missing women" tell
ALTHOUGH the health of Indians is among the worst in the world, the health of its women, especially in the rural areas, is even worse as highlighted by Raman Mohan through his write-up, "Tales that missing women" tell (Her World, August 4). It is only recently, that we have got an inkling of how great the problem is. Surveys have shown a frightening aspect of womenís health which our society has so far not recognised.
Unfortunately, the health
infrastructure in the country is not geared for womenís health needs.
In fact, it is downright unfriendly towards women. The very manner in
which the primary health centres are built and function discourage women
from seeking help. A woman who is to confide about her problems needs some
privacy where she can meet the doctor (usually a male) in the presence
of a female relative or a friend. But most health centres function from
a single room which is shared by the doctor and the patients who wait
for their turn. So, often, when a women may have a serious complication,
she is not attended to properly because the doctor is not always
sensitive enough or does not have the time to draw out the woman into
explanating her problem in detail.
How many young girls suffer from painful menstruation that debilitates them and keeps them grounded for three or four days a month? It is a situation that warrants medical attention but is shrugged off as a womanís lot.
Womenís health needs are different. So far these have been ignored by our policy-makers and the medical system. It is time to do something about them.
To curtail female foeticide and female infanticide, weíll have to get to the root cause, which is the dowry system, followed by others.
Poor parents, who barely make both ends meet, are coerced to pay a huge amount to marry off their daughters. The times are changing, but this change is confined only to the urban areas. In the rural areas, the fate of a girl child is still bleak.
Unless and until we donít direct our efforts towards educating people, especially in the remote areas, we canít impact a change in the status of women.
This feature was published on September 1, 2002