The lethal coronavirus has already infected 8 million people across the globe, killing over 4 lakhs of them. While countries like Italy and China have managed to flatten the curve, the number of cases is yet to peak in India. And since we're dealing with a new virus, new research sheds new insight into its workings and how it affects us almost every other day.
One such study conducted jointly by the Institute of Economic Growth in Delhi, Institute of Health Management Research in Jaipur and Harvard University in the United States, analysed how the disease has affected men and women in India. Researchers found that while more men have been infected, the death rate for women is higher.
According to the findings of the study, while 3.3% of all women who contracted the disease have died, the figure stood at 2.9% for men. The researchers analysed each age group separately and found that the sharpest difference was visible in patients between the ages of 40-49 years. In this age group, 3.2% of infected women succumbed to the virus, while for men the corresponding figure was 2.1%. Of patients within the 5-19 age group, not a single boy died while the death rate in girls was 0.6%.
Government of Kerala
The study had analysed coronavirus fatalities in India during the month of May 2020. While it isn't yet clear why women are more susceptible to dying of the virus, health economist and lead author of the paper, William Joe, says a contributing factor could be that women have limited access to healthcare, general health, and nutritional status. “The (above) social determinants are generally worse for women in India than their male counterparts,” he told Indian Express.
The fact that women lack access to proper healthcare shouldn't come as a surprise for a country notorious for its low sex ratio, female infanticide, and other crimes against women. In fact, an older study conducted by 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. The findings of the study revealed 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.
These studies have been eye-opening about the clear gaps in India's healthcare system when it comes to women, and we hope it's findings serve as an eye-opener for the government to take necessary action.