International Women’s Day: Celebrating and Embracing Inclusive Healthcare for Women

Today is International Women’s Day. The time of the year when women’s achievements, contributions, and rights are brought to the limelight. It is the only day when women from the past are lauded for their initiatives and success in establishing equality for women. But these are not the sole purposes of this day.

Wones Day

International Women’s Day is a reminder that nudges us to continue the fight for women’s equality and equity every year. This year’s theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’, Everyone deserves an opportunity to live a healthy life, and this is where health equity in women’s healthcare matters.

Healthcare equity implies that every woman receives a fair and just chance at quality healthcare services regardless of where they come from or how they look.

Are our women receiving quality, respectful, and impartial healthcare?

It is crucial to reflect on the progress made in the realms of reproductive, sexual, and maternal healthcare. Although we have come a long way, there is still more to achieve and implement in ensuring the best healthcare for women. We need to make sure that every woman, regardless of their background and circumstances, gets accessible healthcare services and can make informed choices about their body and life.

Women of every age have the right to receive accessible healthcare where all their needs are addressed. We can look at the healthcare needs of women by tracing them through different phases of their lives.

Adolescent Health

Adolescence is a crucial stage in a woman’s life where she goes through several physical and psychological changes. Comprehensive sex education and safe healthcare environments are inevitable in developing inclusive healthcare solutions.

Quality menstrual and reproductive healthcare can enable girls to have better health later in their lives. Menstrual health issues are often overlooked with shame and stigma in our society. Thus, only a few girls come forward to access healthcare services.


Inclusive, safe, and non-judgemental health screenings for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) like HIV and HPV are necessary. The healthcare providers should be trained to offer care without any bias. Early detection and prevention of prevalent reproductive health issues, including cervical and ovarian cancer, PCOD, PCOS, and endometriosis, is indispensable. This includes accessible HPV vaccinations and cervical cancer screenings at all levels of health centres.

Maternity Care

Maternity healthcare includes access to safe infertility treatments, counselling on contraception and family planning, respectful prenatal care, postnatal care, and nutrition. The lack of these basic services undermines and endangers the rights and well-being of women.

pregnant women

It is necessary to recognise and respect women’s autonomy and dignity while providing reproductive and maternal healthcare services. A woman-centred maternity care ensures that every mother-to-be makes informed choices and gets quality care irrespective of socio-economic differences.

Menopausal Healthcare

Towards the end of reproductive years, women go through another set of physical and psychological changes. A woman’s nutrition needs can change after and during menopause. The changes begin gradually with the perimenopausal phase. Women often fail to recognise the signs due to the lack of awareness. After menopause, many women become prone to health conditions like osteoporosis and are exposed to risks of cardiovascular diseases.


There is a need to spread awareness about perimenopause and postmenopausal health among women and health professionals. Women should be guided through this stage with the right nutrition and health treatments.

Providing healthcare equity for women does not end with focusing on one aspect. Instead, a comprehensive healthcare system needs to be developed where all health conditions are addressed and treated. Non-judgemental, safe, and inclusive spaces are what our women need. Reforming the design of the healthcare system to actively involve women and their health issues will not just serve women and girls in the present but also future generations.

Dr. Evita’s response on the article “Midwives back: Women opt for intimate home settings to give birth”

Original Article “Midwives back: Women opt for intimate home settings to give birth” 


Kolkata: When Meenakshi sensed the hormonal orchestra of labour inside her, she ambled into the kitchen, brought out her baking trays and started whipping up carrot muffins. As the surge arrived in waves she walked over to the windowsill, crouched on the bed and eventually leaned back against her midwife inside an inflatable wading pool in the living room until her baby floated out.

Read complete article at : 

Dr. Evita’s response on the article “Midwives back: Women opt for intimate home settings to give birth”: 

Dr.Evita.jpgIn response to this article I agree that women should be given the opportunity to choose and have control in their birth journeys. There are several studies supporting continuity of care by midwives, which result in better outcomes for both mother and her newborn.

While home births offer women the much-wanted privacy, intimacy and comfort of personalized care, I strongly support the collaborative hospital model (especially for India) where midwives and obstetricians work together as a team – respecting each other’s roles. C Section if required can be performed without wasting time driving the laboring mother through narrow roads and horrendous traffic.

I am convinced of the vital role professional midwives play in a woman’s journey through pregnancy, labour, birthing of her baby and in the care of her newborn. It is time India promotes and supports Professional Midwifery.

All pregnant women who do not have medical/obstetric complications (otherwise termed as low risk) should be offered midwifery care. The midwife is trained for normality and works within a strict safety framework of rules. Stand alone birthing units in the UK is a good example where clear guidelines and defined protocols exist for midwifery led units. It is important that we in India focus on the quality of training to help produce a cadre of competent and confident midwives. It is equally important to define her role and responsibilities. Most importantly, is the attitude of the obstetric community – to accept, understand, respect and take delight in working with midwives as professional colleagues.

My own epiphany happened only a few years ago. Today as an enlightened obstetrician, I champion the cause of Professional Midwifery.

I am convinced that we obstetricians need to step back and stop interfering. We have medicalized and dehumanized birth. Our training focuses on making pregnancy a journey of complications and emergencies. Our own fears are often transferred to the woman. Most of us have a very poor understanding of “natural” birth and unfortunately an even poorer understanding of a woman’s needs during her labour and birth of her baby. We obstetricians need to get involved only when there is a medical or an obstetric complication, which demands our expertise.

At Fernandez Hospital we launched a two year in-house Professional Midwifery Education and Training Programme in August 2011. More than 4000 mothers have been supported through their labours and have enjoyed our professional midwives assisting them with their births. This journey has changed our own understanding of birthing issues and woman centered care. Our team of 40 ObsGyn doctors has had to unlearn a lot while simultaneously opening our minds to new thinking. It has been an enriching learning experience. PROMISE (Professional Midwifery Services) is the campaign we launched – out of conviction and belief that professional midwives are urgently needed. The campaign has four objectives.

  1. To make pregnancy safe
  2. Humanize birthing
  3. Train a workforce
  4. Promote midwifery by raising awareness among women and obstetricians

In India, where role models for professional midwifery exist, it is even more important that we encourage professional midwives (ensuring they are certified and have impeccable credentials) from countries that produce them i.e. UK, Australia, Sweden, Netherlands to register with the Indian Nursing Council. This will give them the license and medico legal protection to offer their services without fear. Besides, they could also partner with local hospitals/state Government in teaching and training a similar workforce for our country. The Indian Government and the Indian Nursing Council should open its doors to such well trained and competent professionals from other countries.

So while I STRONGLY support woman centered care, work towards reducing our interventions, help train a professional midwifery workforce, I do not (presently) support home births especially in a climate where there is no medico-legal protection for the professional midwife and with the Indian Government mandating institutional births.

I reiterate the fact that Professional Midwifery is the most urgent need of the hour. ALL laboring women MUST be offered midwifery support and care.