ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The State of Maternal Health in India

This intervention discusses the state of maternal health in India.

A Rendering of Disability and Gender in the COVID-19 Era

Discourses on COVID-19 must be inclusive of “disabled bodies.” This requires a radical change in the way discourses around gender, disability and pandemics are constructed. It requires us to question philosophies of liberalism and enlightenment (that continue to dominate policymaking and governance). They emphasise on dignity as capacity to reason, and thus, are “ableist” and patriarchal in their approach. Persons with disabilities (particularly women) are seen as unproductive, thus excluded from liberal political states that were primarily based on values of mutual interest/advantage ensured by contractual relations. Thus, a case is made for a more inclusive politics. It argues for a politics that is based on existential concerns of women with disabilities towards a politics that embraces gender and identity fluidity to build a society based on ethics of inclusion and universal solidarity.

Menstrual Management and Low-cost Sanitary Napkins

The provision of low-cost sanitary napkins to women in rural areas is not an answer to the myriad problems they face in menstrual management. Apart from the need for a mechanism for ensuring the quality of the products and reducing the environmental cost of non-reusable products, the need is for a change in the attitude towards menstruation. It is because this is a taboo topic ruled by religio-cultural conventions that rural women face not only discomfort but also problems linked to reproductive health.

Health Insurance, Health Access and Financial Risk Protection

Drawing from the 60th and 68th rounds of National Sample Survey Office, this study evaluates the impact of different (social, commercial and target-oriented) health insurance schemes on access to healthcare use, and cost of care and financing of medical expenses. The results show that though these schemes promote access to healthcare, they also increase the costs manifold. The commercial insurers have not been effective at pooling financial risks and seem to be indulging in maximising individual gain. Given the intrinsic market-failure and information asymmetry between the principal and the agents and difficulties in regulating the insurance-base system, this study advocates financing healthcare through a tax-based system which can be cost-effective for achieving universal healthcare access in India.

Persistent, Complex and Unresolved Issues

Challenges in the provision, accessibility and corresponding treatment gaps in mental health services in India and other low- and middle-income countries have been the subject of considerable discussion in recent times. Moving away from frequently acknowledged macro concerns, a few recurring, persistent problems remain insufficiently analysed. This article aims to capture the complexity and distress caused by the co-occurrence and interrelatedness of poverty, mental ill health and homelessness. It examines the ramifications of this nexus in domains including health systems and access to healthcare, productive living and full participation, social attitudes and responsiveness, and the development of human resources and leadership in the social sector. It also discusses the failure to engage with these issues which results in greater vulnerability, distress and social defeat among the affected populations.

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