Women’s Awareness and Attitude Towards Health – A Big Disappointment

She is an achiever and a role model, be it on the home front or in the corporate world. She is the one who draws strength from troubles, puts up a brave front during stressful situations and grows stronger with each difficulty that life throws her way.  She is a doting mom when it comes to making her family feel comfortable, cosy, happy and successful. She fights all odds to make ends meet and gives her children love, care, and financial support. She is also the one who ignores her health but makes sure that her family is looked after well.

Here’s an attempt to understand why the woman of the house is so unmindful of her personal health and well-being.

Women give low priority to their health across India – in rural, suburban and urban areas.   Lack of awareness of the ailment or just ignoring a problem and postponing medical intervention further compounds the health problem.

Dr. Prof. Mrs. V. Balambal,M.A.B.T., Ph.D., FRAS(London) Former Professor of History, University of Madras, Chennai, India says “A woman’s health is her total well-being, not determined solely by biological factors and reproduction, but also by effects of workload, nutrition, stress, war, and migration, among others”.

Women in India are experiencing multiple health problems despite media awareness campaigns advocating disease prevention and cure. Some of the health problems that an average Indian woman faces include

  • Anaemia
  • Malnutrition
  • Backache
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart ailments

 

Why Indian Women Ignore Their Health – Research Findings

As per survey done by The Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM) on 2,800 working women aged between 32-58 years in 10 cities, “Three out of four working women in India suffer from lifestyle, chronic or acute ailments due to the pressure from trying to balance their personal and professional lives.”

ICICI Lombard Health Insurance conducted a survey of 1,009 women, aged 22 -55 years, using social media tools such as E-mail, Twitter and Facebook to :

  • Women’s awareness and attitude towards health.
  • Understand perception and behavior of women towards health insurance.

The findings are indeed alarming and prove how women are susceptible to more ailments because of their ‘ignorance’ and ‘unwillingness’ to go for a health check-up:

  •  63% women go for a health check up only when unwell.
  •  In spite of the belief that they are healthy, 47% women fall ill at least 1-2 times every 6 months.
  •  16% of women respondents never go for health check-ups because of the following reasons:

– They find it ‘expensive and unnecessary’.

– They feel they ‘don’t have time’ for it.

– They think ‘I’m healthy so why go?’

  •  Regarding susceptibility to chronic ailments, women suffer the most, when compared to men:

–  83% women from non-cancerous tumors.

–  77% women at the pre-cancerous stage.

–  70% women from arthritis.

–  57% from anemia

–  57% from gallbladder stones.

–  55% from infection in the urinary system

The incidence of these top 5 ailments in women is rising year after year in this order (on maximum to minimum scale)

o   Fever and Common infections.

o   Cataract.

o   Respiratory Tract infections.

o   Pregnancy complications.

o   Reproductive system disorders

75% women do not go for health check-ups (such as Mammography, Blood sugar levels, PAP Smear tests) in spite of being aware of these life-threatening diseases.

Common Health Conditions Affecting Women:

  1. Breast Cancer

Incidence of breast cancer is on the rise in most cities in India such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Kolkata, Chennai, and Ahmedabad, and is the second most common in rural areas. Among all reported cancers in the cities, breast cancer accounts for about 25% to 32%. This means one fourth of all cancers in women is breast cancer. The surprising thing is that apart from lack of awareness, its screening is almost wished away by the affected women.

Dr. Ashok Vaid, Senior Oncologist, Medanta Medicity says, “Breast cancer is definitely one of the most common problems with women today. While there’s no one cause that can be ascertained as to why it hits one, science does understand some issues related with it. The main reason is the paradigm shift in lifestyle. Things like late marriage, delay in having the first child, less breastfeeding, problems of overweight and genetic factors, all make for a variety of reasons that heighten the risk of breast cancer in women.”

  1. Stroke

Dr. YK Jalote, Physician and Cardiologist, puts forward his views on the subject very well. He says, “Diabetes and hypertension are the two most common causes of stroke. Also junk food, lack of exercise, excessive work pressure and no-diet control are the other reasons. As to why women are getting affected with it, is because, in households where women are not working, their health is usually ignored till an emergency comes up. While working women get so busy juggling home and careers that they give but little attention to their health leading to problems like hypertension.”

  1. Weight Gain

Indian women have a tendency to put on weight especially after marriage. Lack of proper diet, physical exercise and stress further adds to the inches around the waist.

  1. Polycystic Ovarian Disease

This is one of the most common female endocrinal disorders affecting about 5- 10% of women of reproductive age. It is a condition in which small cysts develop in the ovaries and affects fertility.

  1. Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSAD):

Though sex is an important part of married life and now live-in relationships too, most women are lacking in sexual arousal despite their urge to have sex. Dr Rajan Bhonsle, Hon Prof and HOD of Sexual Medicines at KEM Hospital and GS Medical College, Mumbai is of the opinion, “It’s a common problem, but reasons could lie in any of the four stages of sex. The four stages broadly are – a desire at the brain level, erection or arousal at the body level, penetration and lastly, the orgasm.” FSAD happens when there is a problem at any one of the stages mentioned.

The State of Health Insurance Coverage in India

In today‘s fast-paced life, each one of us may need medical care at some point in time as health suffers because of hectic work schedules, sedentary lifestyles, and unhealthy eating habits. The number of women suffering from serious ‘lifestyle diseases’ like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes is on the rise. As per the Government of India report of 2006, the morbidity of females is 9.3 % (rural) and 10.8% (urban).

This makes health insurance a dire necessity. But the number of women who have health insurance in India is depressing. Here is the status of purchasing of health insurance policies by women in our country as per research findings:

  • Only one-third of the women respondents owns a health insurance policy.
  • 39% of women respondents are covered under health insurance, but the medical policy has been bought by her father or spouse, not by herself.
  • Many women are ignorant of the health policy claim procedure.
  • 53% of women respondents do not have any health policy because they have never spared a thought to getting medical cover for themselves.

This is in spite of many health insurance companies having women-specific plans which cover critical illnesses, and even certain cancers.

Aren’t you alarmed at the sad state of affairs of women’s health in our country?

Here are several herbs and natural remedies that can easily combat women’s health issues.

Natural Remedies to Fight Common Women’s Health Problems

The easiest way to tackle common health problems faced by women is to turn to nature and Ayurveda. It’s the best technique that is inexpensive and has no side effects. Here are some natural remedies that prevent and cure common health problems faced by women.

A. Obesity:

Guggulu (Commiphora mukul) and Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa). These are two herbs that help you reduce weight. But you also need to exercise regularly and take the right diet to prevent and reduce obesity.

B. Anemia:

Blood deficiency is a common problem in single and married women. You can prevent it from happening by taking amla, aloe vera, and Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa). Also, have iron-enriched diet by including spinach, amla, nuts, beetroot, apples, and plums. Sit in the sun for a brief period daily as it helps increase the production of red blood cells.

C. Urinary Infections:

A herbal tea made from calendula is appropriate in treating infections of the urinary bladder.  Juniper berries have an antiseptic effect and are used in treating urinary tract infections in women.

D. Gynaecological Problems & Childbirth Issues:

Drink chamomile tea, not just as a tea but an herbal remedy if you want to improve your gynaecological problems. This herb is derived from the Latin word for ‘womb’. Naturally, it is used to treat gynecological conditions.  Sourced from nature, motherwort is used to treat childbirth-related issues. But it can also be used to treat several gynecological issues, from menstruation to menopause.

E. Uterine Cramps:  Cramp bark, as the name indicates, is used to ease uterine cramps.

F. Excessive Bleeding: Shepherd’s purse is commonly used to stop excessive bleeding, particularly from the uterus.

We hope every woman reader or her husband, father, brother will understand the importance of making the woman of the house health-conscious and healthy.

So, Shrimati, Sukumari, Bhabiji, it’s time to take your health in your hands before it is too late. A bit of determination from your side will benefit you and your family.

Additional Reading:

http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/SHS/pdf/PP_%20Kazan_Balambal.pdf

http://www.isca.in/IJSS/Archive/v2/i10/3.ISCA-IRJSS-2013-135.pdf

http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/78-working-women-in-india-suffer-from-health-disorder-survey/

http://www.breastcancerindia.net/statistics/trends.html

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/Top-5-womens-health-concerns/articleshow/5647017.cms

http://archivehealthcare.financialexpress.com/201107/eastindiaspecial08.shtml

Women Health and Insurance Survey- a study by ICICI Lombard

 

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