Business Wire IndiaKarnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT), in collaboration with the Central TB Division (CTD) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), held a webinar focusing on strengthening India’s health systems so they are more gender responsive, specifically in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The webinar brought together policy makers, health activists, and think tank leaders who discussed the importance of gender in responding to and determining the health needs of marginalized communities, especially women.
The panelists included Dr. Nishant Kumar, Deputy Director, Central TB Division (CTD), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Ms. Sangita Patel, Director, Health Office, USAID/India, Mr. Mohan H.L, CEO, KHPT, Dr. Avni Amin, Technical Officer, Department of Reproductive Health and Research on Violence Against Women, WHO, Geneva, Mr. Dalbir Singh, President, Global Coalition Against TB. Ms. Blessina Kumar, CEO, Global Coalition Against TB and Ms. Pallavi Prasad, Senior Journalist.
Drawing attention to the need for focusing on the most vulnerable population, Mr. Mohan H.L, CEO, KHPT, shared “KHPT is committed to empowering all communities especially the most vulnerable. Pandemics like any other disasters have a disproportionate effect on women, more so among the poorer and socially excluded community groups. There is a need for resilient systems that are equipped to address the unique needs of women in adverse circumstances. While we all aspire for equity in health, taking significant and actional steps towards this end through understanding barriers, designing gender sensitive solutions and building evidences of successes for scale is our responsibility. I am sure this discussion will provide practical insights from experts on how to collaborate towards our collective goal of ensuring health for all.”
“In keeping with India’s commitment to ending TB, the CTD is currently expediting all efforts to ensure a comprehensive, multi-sectoral, person-centred approach to TB. In this context, to ensure gender-responsive TB care services, we have constituted a National Technical Expert Committee on TB in Women in October 2018. This framework reflects the interactions between TB and gender at various levels, and outlines the influences and constraints of gender on the TB burden and response; defines actions which would help move towards a gender-responsive approach; and provides guidance to implement these actions,” said Dr. Nishant Kumar, Deputy Director, Central TB Division, MoHFW.
In her key remarks, Ms. Sangita Patel, Director, Health Office, USAID emphasized USAID’s commitment to address the issue and said, “I am proud that USAID and its partners take gender into consideration when designing and implementing health programs. USAID’s policy on ‘Gender Equality and Female Empowerment’ aims to improve the lives of vulnerable people around the world by advancing equality and empowering women and girls to participate fully in and benefit from the development of their societies. This is true for all our interventions, including the TB program.”
Underscoring and acknowledging the involvement of boys and men in gender-based initiatives, Dr. Avni Amin, Technical Officer, Department of Reproductive Health and Research on Violence Against Women, WHO, Geneva, said, “Initiatives that engage men and boys must be intentionally gender-transformative by challenging harmful masculinities and male privilege and power over women. Such initiatives have the potential to reduce men’s risk behaviors, encourage their help seeking and facilitate men to share care work and decision-making In doing so, they can positively influence men’s own health and that of women by promoting gender equality as a key determinant of health.”
Dr. Dalbir Singh, President, Global Coalition Against TB said, “Gender equality and gender equity can be addressed by using various approaches including legislation, organizational processes, and promotion of awareness and information gathering. Appropriate policy framework coupled with strong political will and resilient health systems could overcome gender inequities in access to and quality of care. Challenges like stigma and social ostracization and other vulnerabilities could be addressed by deeper engagement of communities and local governments.”
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