India's Approach to Women's Health



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Home to over 1.3 billion people, India faces enormous public health challenges. Moreover, many Indian traditions—especially those involving women—may be keeping half the country's population from achieving optimal health. My poster will assess Indian traditions that could be detrimental to women’s health. Additionally, it will highlight India’s grassroots approach to improve the lives of women and children. While conducting interviews in Pune-area clinics, many patients and providers elaborated on traditions still practiced in both urban and rural settings. Governed by culture, status, and gender roles, these traditions are often detrimental to focal aspects of women’s health. One culture restricts new mothers from eating fruits and vegetables, which can severely impair both the mother and child’s nutrition. Healthcare providers spoke at length about health education programs, set up by the government and nonprofit entities, to educate women and children on recommended health practices. Initiatives like ‘Catch them Young’, ‘Manyata’, and the ‘ASHA’ program have taken the grassroots approach to educating underserved populations on family planning, nutrition, immunizations, and proper hygiene. These programs simultaneously help mitigate culturally-derived misconceptions. Their results are being seen through drastically improved maternal and infant mortality rates over the past decade.