Women in India at Higher Risk of Death from Covid19 Than Men: Study
In the first-ever analysis of how Covid19 has affected men and women in India, researchers have found that while more men have been infected, the death rate for women is higher, defying a global trend.
The findings show that while 3.3% of all women contracting the disease have died, the figure for men stood at 2.9%. The sharpest difference was visible in the 40-49 age group, where 3.2% of infected women, as compared to 2.1% of men, succumbed to the disease. Even in the 5-19 age group, while no deaths were reported among boys, the death rate among girls stood at 0.6%.
Conducted by researchers associated with the the Institute of Economic growth in Delhi, Institute of Health Management Research in Jaipur and Harvard University in the U.S., the study drew conclusions based on Covid19 mortalities in India through May 20, 2020.
One of the major factors that explains the gender-based differences in mortality rates is women’s access to healthcare, general health, and nutritional status, said health economist and lead author of the paper, William Joe, to The New Indian Express. “The [above] social determinants are generally worse for women in India than their male counterparts,” he added.
Indian women have always suffered gender bias while accessing health care, because they are less likely to receive medicine or to get diagnosed and treated. In addition, often, due to gender stereotypes, they also avoid voicing their health concerns, with negative consequences for their overall health.
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A previous study conducted by researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Indian Statistical Institute, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, and Harvard University, found that only 37% of women got access to health care, as compared to 67% of men, at government facilities like AIIMS. Researchers found that families were less likely to travel to seek treatment for women. “A family would not bring female members to specialized hospitals like AIIMS if it meant spending a lot of money on travel,” the report stated.
“This is a story of gross neglect of women’s health across India,” Shamika Ravi, the study’s co-author and member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, told DW.
“Health of a woman is not a priority in our country. No one wants to invest in women’s health and it works both ways because women think it is okay to suffer in silence,” said Ranjana Kumari, women’s rights activist and director of the Centre for Social Research in New Delhi.
The study illustrates the dire consequences of poorer overall health in the context of coronavirus health outcomes, and the need to address structural inequality in the provision of healthcare in India.