By launching a variety of election campaigns the leaders of several political parties have started coming on streets no sooner than the state assembly elections have started approaching closer and closer. The private branding experts of various political leaders are introducing a set of unique ideas to capture the voters’ segment of 50% women voters. As a part of this initiative the BJP has sought to arrange for sending 21 Lakh Rakhis at the auspicious occasion of the Rakshabandhan festival to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Devendra Phadanvis and Shivsena has launched a ‘Mauli Samvaad’ drive under the leadership of its TV-Star anchor, Mr Adesh Bandekar. The utter uselessness of such an absurd and emotional election campaign becomes glaringly noticeable especially when Women health issues and the fundamental remedies for the same have been neglected throughout several decades so far.
Women Health Issues Unseen
The haemoglobin of 50% women and especially the pregnant women from the state is below 10. Thanks to anaemia, the weight of a new-born infant becomes alarmingly low and it takes birth as a child whose growth is seriously affected by malnutrition. On the other hand, the remedy to address this trouble is also very simple. Intake of iron and folic acid tablets can easily cure this problem. These tablets being essentially very cheap it won’t take huge fiscal expenditure to implement this remedy as well.
Therefore the chief minister must terminate the stunt of arranging for 21 Lakh Rakhis and instead should resolve to address this problem permanently using such a simple solution of supplying these above-mentioned tablets to the same 21 Lakh women. If the women from our state become free from the ill effects of anaemia then Maharashtra will become the first state in India to accomplish this noble result. Shivsena holds the ‘Health’ portfolio in the Government of Maharashtra. Instead of organizing election campaign gimmicks like ‘Mauli-Samvaad’, Shivsena should pay attention to the problems of the pregnant women of the state. Even under the monsoon showers, a pregnant woman from Kalamnuri taluka called Suvarna Dhakre had to be carried on a bed for a distance of six kilometres. Most surprisingly, the High Court had condemned the state government when a similar incident had happened two years ago. Last year another woman called Ms Radhika Sahdev Chavan, a mother of a new-born infant, had committed suicide by hanging herself in hospital itself when she was not in a position to spend for her medicines.
During the last single year alone 1,171 pregnant women have died during the course of giving birth to their infant. The maternal mortality in developed countries is 1/10th when compared with the similar maternal death rate from a single state of Maharashtra. Even though the government is claiming to have successfully improved the health-related infrastructure based on the statistics collected by it, yet it is a fact that even the government has not been able to set up a reliable agency of its own to collect fairly acceptable statistics as well. A region like Aurangabad, which is struck by severe famine, lacks the facility of conducting three all-round Antenatal check-ups of every pregnant woman. Even today, rate of home deliveries is 20% when we are well aware that conducting the delivery at home is an absolute guarantee of the death of the pregnant woman and high risk for the newborn as well. Why can’t we show the courage of taking an oath to conduct all the 100% deliveries at hospitals only and fulfil the same within a span of five years?
Women health issues are not restricted only to the rural areas but they are rampant even in the urban areas. The death rate of women due to cervical cancer and breast cancer is very high even in the urban areas. The state government does not feel concerned about this problem even after one of its woman health minister has herself succumbed to breast cancer. Cervical Cancer can easily be avoided by conducting a simple test called ‘Pap Smear’. This test to be conducted for women after they cross the age of 35 is conducted for each and every woman in developed countries as a mass prevention strategy apart from a test called ‘mammography’ if the possibility of breast cancer is found to be high. Instead of conducting political stunts for the purpose of the election campaign to attract female voters, such practical solutions which address the women health issues must be undertaken by the political leadership. Besides, these programs should not prove to be events to be conducted only to celebrate the birthdays of political leaders but they need to be proved as the initiatives conducted by undertaking long-term planning.
Read Amol Annadate’s article on Health and Politics Health – Essentially A Political Issue
Apart from these Women Health Issues, there are several other issues. We have not yet been able to set up an effective mechanism to address day-to-day problems of women like urinary tract and reproductive tract infections such that they will get immediate treatment at the OPD departments of the public hospitals itself. There are examples of girls abandoning their school or college education because of the troubles they have to endure during the times of the menstrual cycle. Girls belonging to 1600 schools of this state are yet deprived of separate bathrooms and toilets meant exclusively for them. Therefore, instead of conducting such absurd election campaigns if the money being spent for these campaigns is diversified for the cause of seeking solutions of these women health issues, then one can hope that at least a few of these perennial problems will be solved permanently.