Wednesday Jun 29, 2022
Wednesday Jun 29, 2022

Women’s Health still stigmatised in Nepal

2022 Apr 21, 6:07, Kathmandu
Women's health Photo: Pinterest

In this ever changing world, people are more aware of a multitude of subjects ranging from equality, racism to technology yet women’s health is still a topic many hesitate to talk about. While both men and women face various conditions, some health issues affect women more commonly and differently.

Did you know women suffer higher heart attack deaths compared to men?

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) on the 2015 report, among the top health risks that most women face are:

  • Cancer: Two of the most common cancers affecting women are breast and cervical cancers. The global figures show that around half a million women die from cervical cancer and half a million from breast cancer each year.
  • Reproductive health
  • Maternal health
  • HIV
  • Sexually transmitted infections:  It is to prevent and treat diseases like gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis. Untreated syphilis is responsible for more than 200,000 stillbirths and early foetal deaths every year.
  • Mental health: Evidence suggests that women are more prone than men to experience anxiety, depression, and somatic complaints – physical symptoms that cannot be explained medically.
  • Being young: Adolescent girls face a number of sexual and reproductive health challenges: STIs, HIV, and pregnancy. About 13 million adolescent girls (under 20) give birth every year. Complications from those pregnancies and childbirth are a leading cause of death for those young mothers and many suffer the consequences of unsafe abortion.

And to add to why knowing about women’s health, many health conditions go undiagnosed and most drug trials do not include female test subjects for their exclusive health concerns, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, menopause, and pregnancy along with urinary tract conditions and how STDs causes more harm to women. Depression and anxiety exhibit more frequently among female patients. And Menstrual illiteracy creates an array of misconceptions about women’s reproductive health which then results in a lack of discourse around women’s intimate wellness as well.

Dr Shree Ram Khadka, Obstetrics and Gynaecologist (OB-GYN), talking about menstrual health, says, “Having cramps, bleeding more or not getting the period in time during menstruation is normal but it also comes under the context of why you are facing it. There is a term called ‘Hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis’ that is the most common at the present that affects the menstruation cycle as well. There are different aspects that affect the timing of period from hormones to cancers as well.”

“But the thing all must know is how during menstruation females are physically weak, and not only do they need nourishment but also mental support as well, Menstrual cramps also have a direct impact on women’s physiological as well as mental health,” he adds.

Female reproductive system
Photo: Pinterest
Female reproductive system Photo: Pinterest

While cramping during periods is one of the biggest problems it’s an issue that is neglected in most households. And severe cramping is often a symptom of a bigger problem. It could be an indication of Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts, or even Pelvic Inflammatory disease. According to Times of India, India’s ranking has slipped from 112 to 140 in terms of the gender gap since 2019 which means worse healthcare conditions for marginalised women.

Dr Garima Shrestha
Photo: She Nepal
Dr Garima Shrestha Photo: She Nepal

Dr Garima Shrestha, Women Health Advocate and founder of SHE Nepal, says, “People in Nepal lack basic information about health let alone women’s health. So, the lack of information, health awareness and basic health facilities are causing undiagnosed cases and complications leading to treatment failure and deaths. There are areas where there’s no availability of basic health facilities in our country where simple infections are leading to death.” “Maternal and neonatal deaths are more common due to lack of maternal health care mostly in rural areas. Sexually transmitted infections and poor hygiene due to taboos related to reproductive health and lack of contraceptive awareness,” she adds

Nepal not only does not have the data of women facing health issues but the lack of proper awareness and prevention affects. “While treatment is easy if any diseases are diagnosed early. But due to lack of health facilities and lack of awareness about health, many patients visit hospitals after complications and multiple organ failure causing difficulty treatment and poor prognosis,” says Dr Shrestha.

Menstrual graph
Photo: Pinterest
Menstrual graph Photo: Pinterest

Women in Nepal face infertility, cancers, and yet they do not have the right health access to get the proper facilities. Dr Khadka says, “We have been seeing numbers of women facing cervical tumours in Nepal lately. But it also means that many are going for regular checkups. As for how to deal with the tumour, it depends on the age and the placement of the tumour itself.”

Our developing country follows social stigmas and taboos that somehow hampers people’s health and to eradicate it consistency and awareness are important. “Changes are definitely gradual but for the change we need to take actions. Just like how polio got eradicated due to awareness and prevention.

Similarly we should inform each and every individual about women's health. Schools should start teaching about reproductive health as well. Easy accessibility and affordability of basic health facilities for each and every individual and focus on empowerment will help educate people about women’s health issues,” explains Dr Shrestha.


World Health Organisation Equality Racism technology Heart Attack reproductive health maternal health Women's health gynaecologist Dr Garima Shrestha SHE Nepal Sexually transmitted infections infertility endometriosis
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