Countries must include response to violence against women as an essential service, says WHO's Dr Soumya Swaminathan

FP Staff October 22, 2020 19:07:39 IST

Addressing the 15th JRD Tata Memorial Oration organized by the Population Foundation of India, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization primarily focussed on the larger theme of 'health for all’. Dr Swaminathan reiterated that it is imperative for governments to invest in public and primary healthcare for all, and focus on the role of scientists in today's world.

Taking a closer look at the gendered impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, Dr Swaminathan's address highlighted how markers of healthcare available for women and children have been largely disturbing. While Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) have reduced over the years, only a fifth of women receive proper ante-natal care (ANC).

Dr Swaminathan also emphasised on the standards for ANC differing considerably for women from SC/ST communities and other marginalised groups. Furthermore, early marriages lead to quick and poorly spaced out pregnancies, some of which also end in abortions. Often, malnutrition and young women face stillbirths, further accelerated in a pandemic with no access to healthcare. Therefore, there is a dire need for family planning, access to contraceptives, adequate counselling and quality spacing between desired pregnancies.

On the education front, Dr Swaminathan spoke of the swooping impact of COVID 19 across the board. Several students have been forced to drop out due to lack of access to facilities. The closure of schools has also meant no nutritious food and higher chances of violence against women and girls at home.

So what are WHO's key asks from member states to curb these major problems? Watch the entire address to find out.

Link to the entire Oration:

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