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Women are the major providers of healthcare worldwide, in both the informal and formal healthcare sectors. Yet they struggle to meet their own healthcare needs. Gender inequality in social, environmental, and biological terms has made access to healthcare for women a challenge, exposing them to health risks. According to a study done by AIIMS and Harvard University, only 37% of women in India receive some form of healthcare. India has one of the highest mortality rates during child birth in the world. It also accounts for the highest number of non-school-going girls in the world. Lack of basic sanitation, malnutrition, and dearth of basic healthcare facilities has added to the dismal condition of women’s health in India.Nearly 92% of the women in country are suffering from gynaecological problems. For women aged 15 to 19 and especially in the rural set up, maternal mortality is the leading cause of death. Less than 21% of women receive ante natal and post-natal care during pregnancy. Lack of access to healthcare, poverty, and regressive practices are the major contributors to the same. It is ironical that in a country of billion people, only a small percentage of women have access to hygienic methods during their menstrual cycles; Less than 18% of women use sanitary napkins during their menstrual cycles. Majority of women in India, especially in the rural and semirural areas, are unable to afford menstrual hygiene due to the cost or cultural bondages, thus leaving them vulnerable to unhygienic methods which have an adverse effect on their health.Despite the above facts, India spends just close to 4% of its GDP on healthcare, where the government's contribution is a meagre 1.4%, which is amongst the lowest in the world. Even with the government's target of taking this contribution to 2.5% by 2025, India would still be one of the countries with the highest out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare. In a country where the private sector accounts for 70% of the contribution in healthcare delivery, the most logical and viable way to move forward is through a public-private partnership (PPP) model. India’s New Health Policy which was issued in 2017, has already taken a step in the PPP direction by acknowledging and embracing the private sector to achieve universal health coverage.Is PPP the only way to move forward? What are the other ways and options and what should be our priority at the moment, are some of the questions that need to be addressed.Author: Akshay Sharma
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