New Delhi: In 2021, for the first time in India, the sex ratio improved and the number of women surpassed the number of men in the country. For every 1,000 men, India has 1,020 women, as per the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) data released for the year 2019-2021 in December 2021. According to NFHS-3, conducted in 2005-06, the sex ratio was 1000:1000 and in 2015-16 (NHFS-4), it declined to 991:1000. However, the sex ratio cannot be the only determinant of gender equality. Various other statistics like access to healthcare services and determinants of health show the status of women’s well-being.
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A look at the status of women’s health in India:
- In India, 23.3 per cent of women (20-24 years) were married before 18 years of age, states the National Family Health Survey-5 conducted between 2019 and 2021. The percentage of early marriages among girls has seen a slight decline from 26.8 per cent in 2015-16. In an opinion piece written for Banega Swasth India, Sanghamitra Singh, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management and Partnerships, Population Foundation of India, talks about the social determinants of health. She writes, “Child marriages impact girls through their lives increasing their susceptibility to early pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal mortality, poor health and nutrition status of both the teenage mother and the child.”
- During pregnancy, antenatal care is essential for ensuring the health of women and their unborn children, states UNICEF. The UN body states, “Through this form of preventive health care, women can learn from skilled health personnel about healthy behaviours during pregnancy, better understand warning signs during pregnancy and childbirth, and receive social, emotional and psychological support at this critical time in their lives.” In India, the percentage of women who had an antenatal check-up in the first trimester has increased from 58.6 per cent (2015-16) to 70 per cent (2019-21), as per NFHS-5.
- Institutional births in the country have seen an uptick from 78.9 per cent (2015-16) to 88.6 per cent (2019-21), shows the NFHS-5 data. Similarly, institutional births in a public facility have also reported a positive surge from 52.1 per cent in 2015-16 to 61.9 per cent in 2019-21.
- As per the Sample Registration System (SRS) report by the Registrar General of India (RGI), the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of India has reduced from 130 per 100,000 live births in SRS 2014-16 to 122 in SRS 2015-17 to 113 in 2016-18 and to 103 per 100,000 live births in SRS 2017-19.
- As per the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. India is also seeing a rise in obesity among people of all age groups. In 2019-21, 24 per cent of women in the age group of 15-49 years were reported to be overweight or obese. In 2015-16, this number stood at 20.6 per cent.
- Anaemia is a health crisis brewing in the country and again, double the percentage of women are affected by it than men. As per NFHS-5, 57 per cent of women (15-49 years) were anaemic in 2019-21, this is an increase of 3.9 per cent from 2015-16.
- More women (15-24 years) in India use hygienic methods of protection during their menstrual period. The NFHS-5 defines hygienic methods of protection as locally prepared napkins, sanitary napkins, tampons, and menstrual cups. The use of these products has increased from 57.6 per cent (2015-16) to 77.3 per cent.
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NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.