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Beyond Diagnosis: Women's Health and the National NCD Portal

By Debamitra Bhattacharya Mar 10, 2024

Women worldwide face significant challenges in accessing healthcare for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with two out of every three women succumbing to NCDs annually, resulting in up to 19 million deaths yearly.

In India, Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) contribute to 60%of all deaths. The four major causes of NCD deaths are Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Hypertension (45%), Chronic respiratory disease (22%), Cancers (12 %), and Diabetes (3%)1. A 2012 study examining the health status of elderly women in rural India showed that hypertension is the most common NCD (78 percent of respondents were reported to have the disease), followed by osteoarthritis (73 percent), diabetes (66 percent), and bronchial asthma (77 percent)2. The prevalence of NCDs among women is 62 per 1,000, as compared to 36 per 1,000 men. Hypertension, depression, gastrointestinal illness, and diabetes are the most common NCD morbidities in the country. These staggering statistics underscore the urgent need for a gender-sensitive approach to address NCDs, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Gender norms and systemic inequalities perpetuate barriers hindering women's access to healthy lifestyles including diet and exercise, timely, adequate, and affordable health screening and care, leading to poorer health outcomes and increased mortality rates, particularly in resource-constrained settings.  Women often bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities and lack decision-making (financial as well) power within households and the disparities in education further aggravate their vulnerability to NCDs. Further to this, women’s health has been historically under-prioritised and under-funded, especially beyond reproductive and maternal health.

India, too, witnessed a health crisis as Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes surpass communicable diseases in prevalence. These NCDs constitute 60% of all deaths, making them the primary causes of mortality and resulting in significant loss of productive years. To address these challenges effectively, the Government of India has launched the National Programme for Non-Communicable Diseases (NP-NCD) nationwide. The program focuses on infrastructure strengthening, human resource development, health promotion, population-based screening for individuals aged 30 and above, early diagnosis, treatment, referral, and control.

In responding to the crisis, developing a comprehensive NCD portal is not only necessary to raise awareness, offer preventive information, and ease access to screening and treatment initiatives but also to ensure effective management. This has helped to transform the portal into a centralized platform, enabling program managers to track the differential access of women to services. enables field staff and trained to explain this information to affected and vulnerable women and will enable them to prioritize their health needs and overcome societal barriers and stigmas.

At the core of these efforts lies the Population-based Screening Initiative (PBS) for NCDs, targeting individuals aged 30 and above, with trained frontline health workers delivering services, ensuring accessibility even in remote areas. Moreover, the portal extends care to pregnant women with gestational diabetes and eclampsia, offering tailored interventions and post-pregnancy support, mitigating long-term health risks. By fostering health awareness and proactive health-seeking behavior, especially among women, the National NCD Portal embodies a paradigm shift in healthcare, leveraging technology for NCD prevention and control, and promoting a healthier society. With over 1.16 lakh health professionals trained and 42 crore individuals enrolled, including 20.6 crore women, the portal emphasizes early detection of gender-specific cancers like breast and cervical cancer, ensuring timely treatment and better outcomes.

The Tata Trusts- Health Systems Transformation Programme (HSTP) and Dell Technologies in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare play a critical role in managing the National NCD Portal. By leveraging its resources, expertise, and network, HSTP ensures the effectiveness and sustainability of the NCD portal. With a user-friendly interface tailored to the needs of women- needs, and challenges, such as information on breast and cervical cancer screening, the portal plays a vital role in empowering women to prioritize their health. HSTP will continue to leverage the data collected by the NCD portal to provide analytical information that has the potential to change the lives of affected populations, especially women who have less access to such information.

By prioritizing gender-sensitive approaches, HSTP will continue to work towards inclusion and advance the sustainable development agenda, ensuring that no woman is left behind in the fight against NCDs.


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