Most northern Indian women cast aside from outpatient health care

September 6, 2019

A recent analysis on outpatient hospital care in India’s capital, New Delhi, has highlighted that women under 30/over 60 were absent from healthcare services, possibly due to India’s extensive gender discrimination.

Gender disparity in healthcare is usually studied by comparing the mortality rates of females versus males, but as missing out on healthcare services may not always result in death, Mudit Kapoor, from New Delhi’s Indian Statistical Institute, said that death rates may be an inaccurate marker.

Instead, Kapoor reviewed data from over 880,000 outpatient visits to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in 2016, across all health departments excluding obstetrics and gynecology. The data mostly consisted of patient visits from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi.

But while nearly two thirds of the outpatient visits were made by males, including children, there were only about four female patients for every 10 males aged 31 and 59, then after age 60, there would be one woman for every three men.The gender disparity worsened for women living farther from the hospital, with Bihar having the worst sex ratio among the four states.

These disparities may be driven by the perceived productivity of women, which ultimately determines whether they get to visit a healthcare centre. Kapoor explains, “Being of middle age makes one a useful member of the family and as the elderly or children are not useful members of the family, discrimination goes up.”

Dr. Ambuj Roy, a professor at AIIMS, adds that younger and older women are likely to rely on people to accompany them to the hospital, which may result in untimely care.

As such, changing people’s perceptions to provide women with better access to healthcare along with improved public health facilities can spur the equal distribution of resources – the maintenance of local hospitals and wellness centres is easier when it is frequented by people of various socioeconomic levels.


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