By Dr. Rosalin Hansda
Life is not merely to be alive but to be well, says Marcus Valerius Martalis.
In the era of BETI BACHAO AND BETI PADHAO, women empowerment, we find the contrast of women dying because she has been ignorant of many things regarding access to medical treatment at the right time.
A women’s health has been conciliated from womb to tomb. Nearly 12 females per 100,000 die of breast cancer, one female dies of cervical cancer every eight minutes in India.
Problems affecting the health of female are multifactorial. Malnutrition, poverty, socio-economic condition, pregnancy, menopause, the superstition of society and various taboos play a certain role in women’s physical and mental health. A tremendous amount of efforts has been made but still, women in India tend to be in the risk of major diseases. Health status of women is directly proportional to the health condition of the nation.
Many of the diseases are prevalent in both men and women, but few diseases are particular to females. Urinary tract infection is more frequent and severe in females. Risk factor specific to females is female anatomy; women have a shorter urethra than male, which shortens the distance that the pathogen must travel to reach the bladder.
Autoimmune disease is the disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the body. Multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus are some of the autoimmune diseases in which women are most likely to be affected than men.
Being a female puts her at high risk of developing osteoporosis and fractured bones. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bone density is decreased. It is seen in both the sexes but osteoporosis is more common in females than males since estrogen a hormone in female protects the bones. After menopause, the estrogen levels sharply decreases which causes bone loss leading to a backache, stooped posture or even fracture.
Some cancers commonly affecting women are breast cancer, colon cancers, endometrial cancer, cervical and ovarian cancers. Sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles are major factors for the increasing numbers of mortality due to cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths in women. It can occur at any age. Early detection is very necessary for the best treatment. Self-examination is a method of a screen through which women could detect breast cancer. In self-examination, a woman should look for any lump in her breast or any changes in skin or nipple.
Pregnancy is a phase in a woman’s life that brings a lot of changes both physically and mentally. The feeling of carrying a little soul is magnificent. An expectant mother should be educated about all the conditions related to pregnancy. There are some diseases and treatment of diseases that could be a real threat to the fetus. She needs to be aware of the drugs that are contraindicated during pregnancy.
About five women die every hour in India from complications during childbirth. Most of the new mothers collapse due to postpartum hemorrhage i.e. heavy blood loss.
A woman has many roles to play—mother, daughter, wife, employee, caregiver and it is a never-ending list. While playing these roles she may go through happy and bitter phases. There can be a lot of mood swings due to life events or hormonal changes.
Finally, the emotions tend to pile up leading to depression. Women are two times more likely to have depression. Depression is a serious disorder. It causes a feeling of sadness, helplessness, worthlessness and all the negative emotions. These may last for days to months and even years. Many factors contribute to depression including hormone, females’ response to stress, and social pressures. We need to encourage everyone to speak more about mental health too. Depression is a leading cause of disease-related disability in women than men.
Today the need of the hour is, government and entire society should attempt to educate and bring awareness about the illness and problems faced by women rampantly.
Many Indian women do not feel easy talking about menstruation health and many other issues as it is a taboo in Indian society.
Women in rural areas still today rely on exorcisms and witch doctors. Educating people can bring a major change in health status of India.
Health programs have to be conducted including counseling, services for pregnant women, and screening for gestational diabetes, cervical cancers, and other diseases.
In addition, essential health benefits like ambulance facility, emergency services, mental and substance use disorder have to be focused. Hospitals should be more accessible and affordable. Mainly promoting healthy lifestyle like nutritious food, exercise and maintaining required weight can help to prevent many chronic diseases.
We need to create a healthy environment for the well-being of women to ensure healthy future generation in India.
(Dr. Rosalin Hansda is a general physician. Earlier she worked in Bishop James Memorial Rural Healthcare Centre, Jalpaiguri, West Bengal)