Women’s Healthcare Woes: Time To Stop The Sacrifice

This is the narrative that Manipal Hospital aims to change by providing a Video Consultation Programme For Women By Women

How many of you have seen your mother or your wife not pay attention to their health? Or even sacrificing their health for the sake of the family? Given the amount of patriarchy in the society, women have been trained to put their family ahead of themselves. As much as a woman cares for her own child or family, she may not care for herself.

This is the narrative that Manipal Hospital aims to change by providing a Video Consultation Programme For Women By Women. This is a unique initiative to get women out of their cocoons and express about their healthcare woes. Focusing on women’s health is the primary goal that needs to be achieved. After all, women are the backbone of the entire family and society. By putting their health on the back burner, you are building the recipe to a major disaster.

More often than not, when women disclose their healthcare problems and share it with their kin, they are mocked for it or put down for the same. It is always said that their health issues are just in their head and there really isn’t any problem.

The Video Consultation For Women By Women is available across all cities and manages about 10-12 consults in a day. The aim is to achieve more consults in a day, but the problem remains with the women not willing to express as much. Once the women start opening up and talking about their complaints, this is how the platform has helped in each scenario.

Asha (name changed) a 32-year-old homemaker consulted on the platform for chest pain, palpitations, and severe bloating. On further evaluation and clinical history, it was ascertained that her complaints had more of a gastric origin than being cardiac symptoms. The doctor was able to counsel her and explain the benefits of healthy eating, portion control, and eating on time. With nutritional counselling, the patient was prevented from rushing to the emergency ward. Timely consult helped ascertain the diagnosis of the female and was taken care of right away. The consult also helped in understanding the difference between an emergency versus a condition that is not as critical.

Sweta (name changed) a 24-year-old woman from rural background, consulted us for an infection in her intimate area. She was not comfortable in speaking to a doctor of the opposite gender. Since there were only male doctors around her residence, she did not consult any doctor there. By coming on our platform, she was extremely comfortable with the online consultation and was able to express her problems freely. She was cured within a week and was finally able to overcome the gender barrier and attend to her health easily.

As Dr. Madhumita, Physician, Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road rightly states, “Health includes physical, mental, and social aspects. A women’s health changes from infancy to senility in all these three dimensions and requires attention in every stage of life. This initiative is a feather in the hat, for us women, who have crossed many barriers and achieved great heights in various fields.”

The idea behind having only female consultants for the video consults is to provide a non-judgemental safe platform where women can express freely. This helps the consultant build a good rapport with the patient and give a detailed insight into the woman’s health.

The open and trustful platform helped one such patient Tanya (name changed) a 26-year-old media professional who was going through tremendous mental agony. She was unable to express and struggled with severe paranoia. By not being able to trust people, she could never really discuss what she was going through with anyone. She mustered courage and consulted a doctor on this platform. After a few regular consults, the exact cause was known, and the physician could counsel her in a proper manner. With counselling and constant follow ups, the patient was managed in a better way. The physical and mental aspect of the patient was understood and handled accordingly.

You often tend to mistake a symptom for something very trivial whereas it happens to be something serious or vice versa. The same happened with Indu (name changed), a 40-year-old dancer who struggled with low haemoglobin levels and fatigue. She had started losing weight and could not focus on her dancing. She thought that her haemoglobin was low due to iron deficiency anaemia. But on consulting a doctor on our platform, it was identified that her symptoms were not normal. She was referred to a medical oncologist who confirmed it to be thyroid cancer. Early detection helped in timely management of the case. And as we all know, prevention is always better than cure. Get yourself checked early and manage your health conditions in a better manner.

Since the platform is available throughout the day, Dr. Ashwitha Shruti Dass, Physician, Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road says, “I have observed most women with menstrual irregularities and other female specific issues which cannot be openly discussed come on the platform during the afternoon period. This is when they have finished their household chores and are free from their family duties. They manage to make some time for themselves and are able to focus on their health.”

One such case was of Maya (name changed), a 36-year-old divorcee, who was a single parent taking care of her 5-year-old son. She had gotten pregnant and wanted to terminate her pregnancy. She could not disclose it to anyone locally due to societal pressure. Our platform helped her overcome her fear of societal image and understand her condition. She was advised to get a pregnancy test done to confirm her pregnancy and then consult a gynaecologist for the next steps. We were able to manage her case remotely and guide her to the best doctor available.

Another case of a 22-year-old girl, who had probably got pregnant out of wedlock. She did not want to disclose her sexual activity but was worried about her irregular cycles. She thought she was pregnant and could reach out to us via the platform and speak to a female doctor. With proper counselling and medical guidance, she was advised certain hormonal tests and referred to a gynaecologist.

Hormonal health plays a vital role in female health. Dr. Ashwitha states, “If you come across a woman who is obese and has menstrual irregularities, she must be tested for her hormonal profile.” An example of such a case was when Kiara (name changed) a 28-year-old girl connected with us on the platform. She had not got her periods since 7 years now. During the consult she seemed very low and spoke very softly. There was lack of confidence in her tone and she was not very comfortable with the language. She was obese, weighing 120 kgs; and on further evaluation, it was confirmed that she was in depression due to her condition. Since her cycles were irregular and her weight was an issue, she was not married and that played a lot on her mind. After thorough case taking, she was advised a full hormonal panel of tests and an ultrasound. With adequate counselling, we have been able to manage her case and help her lose weight.

With the help of this unique initiative, we are trying to bridge the gap for women’s healthcare, identify emergency situations, manage easier healthcare issues at the clinical level, counsel the patients, and detect diseases at an earlier stage.

The platform also specialises in providing endocrinological consults that help manage the hormonal issues of women of all age groups. Younger women have the means to visit a doctor directly and can get their problems solved. But women who belong to the senior citizen category feel left out at home. Premenopausal women must deal with mood swings, hot flushes, and other symptoms due to hormonal imbalance. Whereas post-menopausal women deal with all these issues in silence. They feel that their feminism is lost and are not worth it anymore. With the help of this platform, irrespective of your age, you can consult a female doctor right away and get your hormonal imbalance corrected. Know that you have someone on this platform who is ready to listen to all your woes and will help manage your condition better.

Women need to feel that there is someone here to listen to their issues. With the authenticity of the doctors on this platform and the timely counselling and medical advice, the platform came like an eye opener for most women. This women’s day, let’s pledge to focus on the health of all the women around us and provide them a better healthcare model via the Video Consultation Platform.

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