Health Care for Women – Preventive Care, Contraception, Maternity

Let’s talk about Anjali today, a college student born and brought up in rural parts of central India. After she moved to Mumbai for higher education, she was surprised to see what she had been missing when it came to healthcare. 

Healthcare for women is there, but the access to healthcare for women is very limited in India. Women need healthcare and safety even more than men. The fundamental reason is the biological well-being for any women, i.e. their reproductive health needs. 

Also, since women are biologically different, they are vulnerable to a number of problems like cervical cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, menopause-related problems etc. In this post, we are going to discuss the following pointers about women healthcare: 

  • General health screening
  • Reproductive and sexual health
  • Immunization
  • Contraception
  • Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)
  • Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK)
  • Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)

Moving on to access to health care, women in India have faced discrimination in society because of the historical practices and social factors. 

Lastly, women are striking a perfect balance between their personal and professional life. Dodging the challenges of both worlds, sometimes, life takes a heavy toll on their health. Also, women are prone to contracting many diseases, especially later in their lives. 

Let us try and understand some of the critical health issues and their preventive solutions to avoid or mitigate the impact of such problem. 

Preventive Care

Women need to take an active approach to healthcare very early in their adulthood. Exposure to various problems is much higher for women than men. Preventive care is a proactive approach to safety and health well-being. Preventive care would imply a prioritized focus on various regular tests and checks, immunizations, etc. 

It would be helpful to identify a problem earlier to choose the right and effective treatment at efficient costs. Also, the impact of any disease reduces if it has been identified and treated early. 

There are several women’s health problems that include HIV, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and STDs. So, to overcome these problems, women have to take some preventive measures for their health. Now, here preventive care is crucial as it is a well-known fact that ‘Prevention is always better than Cure‘. 

Preventive care measures

  1. General Health Screening;

Every woman should have at least an annual visit to the doctor for a regular health checkup. This is necessary to discuss the status of timely prescriptions and essential immunizations.

  1. Reproductive and Sexual Health

Women undergo biological changes much earlier than men. One of the most critical tests for any women would be a cervical cancer screening test as soon as she hits adulthood (approx. 21 years of age). The type of test and frequency of the test depends on your age and other risk factors. 

The test results are to analyze any unusual activity or responses to detect cancer or even pre-cancerous cells. Your doctor will collect cells from your cervix, which is at the bottom of your uterus. 

  1. Immunizations

Your annual visit may be an excellent time to review the necessary immunizations. Your doctor may recommend the required vaccinations and immunizations, and the frequency for the same may be depended on various factors, varying from individual to individual.

Contraception 

Birth control has been an important initiative by the Government of India. In healthcare for women, the contraception method also played a very crucial role. It’s a method used to control the number and timing of bearing a child, and it’s a part of family planning strategy. 

Contraception allows them to postpone child birth until their bodies are fully able to support a pregnancy. This is extremely important in the case of second and third child. Contraceptive use of medicines reduces the need for abortion by preventing unwanted pregnancies. 

According to WHO data, among the 1.9 billion women of Reproductive Age group (15-49 years) worldwide in 2019, 1.1 billion need family planning. Out of these, 842 million are using contraceptive techniques while 270 million women have an unmet need for contraception.

Contraception also helps women to meet their educational, financial and other personal goals in life. As per a research, in economic analysis in the US, it is found that the availability of oral contraceptives has positively impacted US women’s education, labor force participation and the average earning capacity of women.

Maternity and Healthcare

Maternal health or maternity refers to the health of women beginning at a pre-natal stage, just before child birth. Post the pregnancy, childbirth it includes the postnatal period. All these stages must have a positive experience, for ensuring the health of both mothers and babies to reach their full potential for well-being.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), in the last two decades, about 295,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth. And the common cause of their deaths are recorded as infection, excessive blood loss, unsafe abortion, high blood pressure and obstructed labor as well as some of the indirect causes such as Anemia, heart diseases etc.

Government’s initiatives

In previous sections, I discussed why women’s health is considered to be a serious issue and what types of risks they faced in their life. Now in this section, I will discuss some significant initiatives taken by the Government of India to improve Healthcare facilities for Women. Some Problems and initiatives are as under.

Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)

This program was launched in 2016 by Narendra Modi. It ensures the quality of ante-natal care and high risk pregnancy detection in pregnant women on 9th of every month.

Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK)

This particular program was launched on 1st June 2011 by the Government of India. Under this program, all pregnant women delivering in public health institutions have to bear zero expenses, and it also ensures diet, medicines and other care of both mother and baby.

In 2013, this was expanded to sick infants and ante-natal and post-natal complications.

Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)

It was launched in April 2005, to reduce maternal and infant mortality by promoting institutional delivery among poor pregnant women. That implies getting the delivery done at recognized hospitals.

The Government of India have come out with many such schemes to support and protect the healthcare for women in India.

FAQs: Health Care for Women

Are there any health insurance plans for women?

With the increasing focus and importance of healthcare for women, many insurance providers have started formulating much-needed customized plans catering specifically to the women’s health and well-being. There are a few insurance companies offering maternity insurance cover in a basic insurance plan while others are offering critical illness insurance plans.

Why is life insurance important for working women?

Women are attempting to strike perfect balance between their professional as well as personal life. A critical struggle exposes them to large health and illness risk. Having health insurance for women is of paramount importance and here are few of the reasons.

Financial protection and security.
Protection for critical illness.
Protection against unwanted and untimely diseases.

What are the top issues when it comes to women’s health?

With changing lifestyles, disrupted routines and fast paced work-life, it is difficult for a woman to balance the professional as well as the personal life. To maintain a healthy lifestyle and a timely diet coupled with adequate physical activity is all the more difficult. A lot of their health problems arise because of disregard and negligence to health concerns. Here are some of the major health problems faced by women in general in India;

Heart problems
Breast and Cervical cancer
PCOD
Strokes
Osteoporosis
Obesity

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