International Women’s Day celebrates the essence and achievements of women all over the world. One of the most important rights that women have all over the world is the right to good health.
Women are prone to certain diseases and need to take steps in the right direction early on to stay healthy. Here are some of the top health problems that need to be addressed.
- Cervical Cancer: Around one-third of cervical cancer deaths occur in India.. This cancer begins in the cervix and one of the most common causes is the Human Papilloma virus and accounts for 70% of all cases. It is important to create awareness about the importance of personal hygiene and initiating sexual activity at a later age to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine helps protect against the HPV virus. The Indian Academy of Pediatrics recommends the HPV vaccine between the age of 9 to 45 years. Typically, atleast 2 to 3 doses are required depending on your age. Every 7 minutes, a woman in India looses her battle to cervical cancer so its time, we start taking this important step.
- Heart disease: Though heart disease is usually synonymous with men, studies have now shown that women are as prone to heart disease as men. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women all across the world, including India. The risk factors are the same- obesity, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease. Despite that, women typically get neglected in their household and do not get to know that they are at risk for heart disease in time. Lifestyle modification is key in prevention of heart disease including eating healthier meals and exercising atleast 30 minutes a day for 4-5 days a week. Regular health checkups after the age of 35 years to detect risk factors like hypertension and diabetes early on are important even if you do not have any symptoms.
- Maternal health: A healthy child starts with a healthy pregnancy. Globally, 800 women die every day due to causes related with pregnancy and childbirth. In India alone, one woman dies every 8 minutes in childbirth. Most common causes include bleeding, infection and high blood pressure. All women need access to good ante-natal care in pregnancy, skilled care in childbirth and support after birth. Even though the Maternal Mortality rate has decreased, women in rural India still don’t have access to healthcare. The government through various programs is trying to address this issue, but we still have long ways to go to ensure a healthy mother and child.
- Mental Health: Studies and data has shown that women are more prone to anxiety and depression. Talking about mental health is often taken as a taboo but it is important women come out with their problems. Depression is currently one of the heading cause of death in women below the age of 60. Helping women becoming aware about mental health issues and giving them confidence to seek help is important.
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis affects 200 million women worldwide. One in three women above the age of 50 years will experience a fracture worldwide. Osteoporosis is a largly preventable problem. Usually the build-up of bone occurs till the age of 30 years and after that maintenance is key. Sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition and lack of calcium intake especially in post menopausal women – all contribute to weakness of bones. A healthy diet, calcium supplements and regular exercise can help prevent the risk of osteoporosis.
Women play multiple roles in their life and it is vital we respect them and care for them at every step. On this woman’s day, let us take charge of our health for a brighter and healthier future. Happy International Women’s Day!
(Dr.Sonia Lal Gupta is a neurologist specializing in Headache Medicine. She is practicing at Metro Hospitals, Noida and MP Heart Clinic at GK1. Dr Sameer Gupta is a practicing Interventional Cardiologist and Vascular Medicine specialist.They host NDTV’s weekly health segment “Doctors on Call”.)