Monday, November 09, 2009

Women's Health, A Most Vulnerable Hinderance In Socio- Economic Development.

The United Nation's Women's health report is released.The various aspects of women's health and how it affects the development paradigm are reflected in the initial press release. .The point  I noted most is that no matter what paradigm you see it from, human development and social justice are directly affected and very seriously affected by women's health.

In Pakistan there is a true picture of this reflected in every aspect of a person's life. If the mother is young she is affectted by morbidity ,childbirth complications, anemia,mental health problems like depression, osteopenia etc. Her productivity both as a homemaker and her work like in agriculture,worker in factory, house help etc is severely affected. She is under constant stress to provide income to support the family and now increasingly in large urban areas. The domestic or household help workorce is coming  from  Southern Punjab where poverty is leading the rural population to increasingly migrate to urban areas like Karachi, Lahore, etc to  f ind jobs as domestic help..These women constitute  a major household help workorce and are not registered as such. Their work carries no acknowledgment from the labour department and they get no benefits as a group of workers. For health needs they visit private practitioners ,often quacks in 'Katchi Abadis' or slums where they are residing in overcrowded , unhygeinic conditions. Their water supply is often contaminated and they use unboiled water for drinking and cooking also. It is to be mentioned here that the girl child is equally vulnerable as she often goes to 'work' with her mother and if she stays back often 'looks after' her other younger siblings. The staying back ordeal exposes her to hazards such as child abuse, fire or c ooking accidents and other mental stresses and problems. Not going to school is just one aspect of her deprivation.The irony is that the religious people in Pakistan who are otherwise so vehement in opposing UN and WHO work are not even inclined to acknowledge this problem. They are not concerned with addressing the health issues and neglect and poverty related issues in Pakistan. They can do much to help as they have vast resources, means and influence in Pakistani society.
The health issues faced by poor women in Pakistan are kaleidoscopic. All aspects as mentioned by Dr. Chan are represented here. It is high time that the governments, civil society organisations and religious groups realize the gravity of the situation and address these issues in an urgent basis. The incidence of violence against women, now also in the context of conflicts of terrorism targetting girls education is increasing . This will again adversely affect womens health and thus the health of the nation that is Pakistan.
We need to prioritize and devise a plan o action to improve the health and well being status of Pakistani women keeping in mind the millineum development goals. The UN and WHO are already working to help in Pakistan.We can gain much from them. There is a dire need to take the religious groups and organisations on board and build their confidence in institutions to improve women's health and socio-economic status in Pakistan.