Increasing Investment In Women’s Health

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Women's health is sensitive that deserves utmost attention and support. It encompasses a wide range of issues, including reproductive health, mental well-being, and access to quality healthcare. However, despite significant progress in recent years, there are still numerous challenges that women face in maintaining their overall well-being. Reproductive health is a fundamental right of women's health, which included various areas such as family planning, access to contraception, safe abortions, and maternal healthcare. It is crucial to provide comprehensive reproductive health services that are easily accessible, affordable, and free from judgment or stigma. 

By doing so, we can empower women to make informed decisions about their bodies and reproductive choices, ultimately leading to healthier lives for both women and their families. Mental health is often overlooked but plays a significant role in women's overall well-being. In recent years, there has been a growing concern on the importance of mental health and its impact on overall well-being of people and society. However, one aspect that often remains overlooked is women's mental health.

 Societal expectations

From a young age, women are bombarded with societal expectations and pressures that can take a toll on their mental health. The pressure to conform to beauty standards, excel in multiple roles (as a mother, wife, professional, etc.), and navigate gender inequalities can lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression. Society must recognise and challenge these unrealistic expectations to foster a healthier environment for women. Women experience hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives, such as during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. These changes can have a significant impact on mental health, leading to mood swings, irritability, and even more severe conditions like postpartum depression. 

It is crucial to provide women with the necessary support and resources to navigate these hormonal changes effectively. Women are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence, including domestic abuse, sexual assault, and harassment. These traumatic experiences can have long-lasting effects on mental health, leading to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. Society must prioritise the prevention of violence against women and ensure that survivors have access to comprehensive mental health services.

Despite the growing awareness surrounding mental health, stigma remains a significant barrier for women seeking help. Societal expectations of strength and resilience often discourage women from openly discussing their mental health struggles. Moreover, financial constraints, lack of accessible services, and cultural barriers further limit women's access to mental health support. It is crucial to break down these barriers and create safe spaces for women to seek help without fear of judgment or discrimination.

It is essential to recognise that women's mental health is not a monolithic experience. Women from marginalised communities, such as women of colour, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities, face additional challenges and discrimination that can exacerbate mental health issues. Addressing women's mental health must be intersectional, taking into account the unique experiences and needs of diverse groups of women. It is imperative to prioritise mental health services specifically tailored to women's needs, including counseling, support groups, and education. 

By addressing mental health concerns, we can foster resilience, promote self-care, and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Certain diseases disproportionately affect women, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis. These conditions require specialised attention, including regular screenings, early detection, and appropriate treatment options. Investing in research, awareness campaigns, and accessible healthcare services is crucial to combat these diseases effectively and ensure women receive the care they need.

Women, particularly those from marginalized communities, often face significant healthcare disparities. Factors such as socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and geographic location can limit access to quality healthcare services. It is essential to address these disparities by implementing policies that promote equitable access to healthcare, expanding insurance coverage, and increasing the number of healthcare providers who specialize in women's health.

Awareness

Education and empowerment are key components of women's health. By providing comprehensive and accurate information about reproductive health, sexual education, and healthy lifestyle choices, we can empower women to make informed decisions about their bodies and overall well-being. Additionally, promoting gender equality, challenging societal norms, and supporting women's rights are crucial in creating an environment that values and prioritizes women's health

By acknowledging and addressing the specific challenges faced by women, we can create a society that prioritizes their mental well-being. This requires comprehensive support systems, destigmatisation of mental health struggles, and the provision of accessible and culturally sensitive services. Only by taking these steps can we ensure that women receive the support they need to thrive mentally, emotionally, and physically

Women's health is a multifaceted issue that requires comprehensive care, including reproductive health, mental well-being, and access to quality healthcare. By addressing the unique needs and concerns of women, we can empower them to lead healthier lives and contribute to a more equitable society. It is imperative that governments, healthcare providers, and communities work together to prioritize women's health, eliminate disparities, and ensure that every woman has access to the care she deserves.

(Dr. Lohani is the executive director at Health Concern. lohanis@gmail.com)

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