Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare inaugurated a seminar on “Women’s Health Challenges, Access and Prevention” organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), on 25 October 2018. Speaking at the function, Anupriya Patel stated that women are strong pillars of any vibrant society and sustained development of the country can be achieved only if we take holistic care of the women and children. Anupriya Patel also released a report on Breast Cancer Landscape in Indiain the presence of Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Ayog and Preeti Sudan, Secretary (Health) and host of other eminent dignitaries.
Speaking at the occasion, Anupriya Patel stated that India has made considerable progress in the area of women’s health. “Maternal mortality Ratio (MMR) is one such indicator which reflects this progress. India’s MMR in the last few years has declined at an accelerated pace to reach 130 per one lakh live births in 2014-16. This means we save more than 30 mothers every day,” she said.
Anupriya Patel further stated that under the National Health Mission a “continuum of care” approach is employed to ensure the best possible health outcomes for women throughout their reproductive life-cycle. “As a result of these interventions, institutional deliveries have risen to 78.9% and more importantly, institutional births in public facilities have increased from 18% to 52% under NHM. In the rural areas, the out of pocket expenditure for childbirth in public health facilities has also decreased,” she elaborated.
Moving forward, Ayushman Bharat will prioritise women’s health by easing the access to preventive as well as curative health services through the primary health and wellness centres and a financial assurance for secondary and tertiary care respectively. The health of women is an important determinant of a nation’s economic progress as well as responsible for the health of future generations, she emphasised. “The government has taken many initiatives to secure the health of women. Ayushman Bharat is only going to strengthen these initiatives by providing free provision of free screening at primary health and wellness centres and free treatment of critical stage diseases,”she added further
Here, Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare emphasised on having selective primary healthcare for women that would focus on every stage of her development especially when she approaches the age of motherhood. “Women’s health will increase significantly once they are empowered to take decision especially in family planning.”
Adding on Vinod Paul, member of NITI Aayog, brought to light that there are other diseases that need much focus from the perspective of women’s health such as, post-menopausal diseases, osteoporosis, domestic violence, health needs for elderly women, chronic lung disease, cataract post-partum depression among many others. He said, “ Fulfilment of Health requirements of women especially in the adolescent stage would provide a strong foundation for her future health status.”
Summing up Shubnum Singh, Chairperson – CII Health Sector Skills Council and Member CII Healthcare Council and Chief Executive of Max Research Education and Health Institute stressed that there is a need for gender specific data, basis anecdotal evidence, which if available, would add to the effectiveness of interventions. Such information would bring to the fore the various contexts/background of the patients that would make understanding of health issues clearer.
A Report titled, “Breast Cancer: Landscape in India” a joint initiative by CII and Novartis was released at the event. The report recommended that timely screening, establishment of standard treatment guidelines, funding for cancer research, adequate number of health workforce (oncologists) and creation of awareness for elimination of stigma are some of the areas of intervention in cancer care.
ASHA worker, Aanganwadi worker and a PHC Director also gave their perspectives with respect to this issue. The primary, health and wellness centres under Ayushman Bharat will play a very comprehensive role in addressing women’s health issues.The essence of the event was that women’s health issues or for that any health issue should not be dealt in silos, rather, in context with the setting the individual interacts with daily.