Keeping women fit and healthy

Keeping women fit and healthy

Women in India, as elsewhere, are susceptible to diseases and health disorders to a greater degree than men; certain diseases are specific to women alone. A major factor about which we are helpless is the distinct female physiology that triggers specific psychic and behaviour patterns, something the champions of women empowerment never speak out.

Another factor sickening, disabling or weakening the womenfolk is rooted in our socio-cultural context; here much more can be done than is being presently targeted through government or voluntary efforts.

In terms of labour and physical activity, a woman contributes in no less measure than her male counterpart. That is, in addition to her conciliatory and morally supportive role in the smooth running of modern families, which occasionally tend to crumble for various reasons.

However, neither she herself nor family members ever bother whether she is receiving the nutrition, care and facilities equitably and whether she has a say in issues that matter. In countryside, the custom of women subsisting on the leftover, at times going empty stomach goes on. No wonder, women usually suffer from anaemia and nutritional deficiencies.

Apart from a range of gynaecological, vaginal, other reproductive or pregnancy-related diseases exclusively afflicting women, several other ailments predominantly affecting them include oesteoporosis, breast and cervical cancers, lupus (90 per cent of all incidences are among them), bladder infections and thyroid problems. The incidence of heart attack, depression and anxiety and severity of sexually transmitted diseases is also higher among them.

Health of women as an agenda at the global level first came to fore at the International Women’s Health Meeting in Costa Rica, Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network (LACWHN) in 1987 which proposed to celebrate May 28 as the International Day of Action for Women’s Health.

Together with Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) which has a wide outreach, LACWHN has been since coordinating the campaign on this date every year when the achievements on indicators of women’s health, including prevention of maternal mortality and morbidity, are reviewed annually.

Deaths during pregnancy

The impact of international health programmes like safe motherhood, women’s access to family planning and maternal and child deaths assessed for 20 years have been ‘unequal and fragmented’, reported UNFPA last year.

Maternal deaths during pregnancy and child birth certainly halved but access to health services remained patchy, especially in rural pockets of Africa, Latin America and Asia. Referring to very high maternal death rate of one woman per 1000 women, the report regrets, “A belief in, and commitment to, gender equality is not universal, and gender-based discrimination and violence continue to plague most societies.”

Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General, WHO, attributes unsatisfactory health of women to lack of political will, “In 2015, in too many countries, ‘women’s empowerment’ remains a pipedream – little more than a rhetorical flourish added to a politician’s speech. Too many women are still missing out on the opportunity to get educated, support themselves, and obtain the health services they need, when they need them.”

As a steward of family, it is incumbent upon a woman to keep herself fit and kicking. Juxtapose a typical Indian woman with her slim Korean or Chinese counterpart! Simple measures like avoiding standing postures for hours, avoiding junk food that makes a junk body and some physical exercises daily does away with abdominal obesity so common among women.

Staying in a cheerful mood and adopting simple logic can ward off frequent visits to doctors. Our body is God’s gift to us and as its custodians, we shall be performing a religious duty by keeping it fit and healthy.

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