Gender still a paramount stumbling block in cancer treatment

By Lokmat English Desk | Published: November 26, 2021 11:50 PM2021-11-26T23:50:02+5:302021-11-26T23:50:02+5:30

Dr Mangesh Sidhewad Worldwide around 1 million individuals develop cancer every year. The figure is expected to increase to ...

Gender still a paramount stumbling block in cancer treatment | Gender still a paramount stumbling block in cancer treatment

Gender still a paramount stumbling block in cancer treatment

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Dr Mangesh Sidhewad

Worldwide around 1 million individuals develop cancer every year. The figure is expected to increase to 15 million. India records lakhs of cancer deaths. Cancer treatment is quite expensive in all hospitals and for almost 41% of patient treatment is unaffordable. According to gender inequality index (UN) India ranks 132th among 187 countries lagging far behind its regional neighbours.

This writer conducted a Short-term Studentship (STS) research under the scheme of the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi at regional government cancer institute in Aurangabad to know about cancer and its impact on gender in relation to cancer treatment expenditure. In females, the most common cancer was carcinoma of genitourinary system followed by carcinoma of breast while in males most common cancers were carcinoma of oral, throat cavity, carcinoma of gastrointestinal system followed by carcinoma of lung. Gender-wise distribution of total expenditure in males was 44% more than females.

A nation’s health policy should, fundamentally, address the questions of cost, access and quality in health care. Cancer is one such disease, where the financial burden of treatment is a major source of stress for patients and families. The out-of-pocket costs incurred because of the illness can consume substantial part of income and family budget. In the present study, statistically significant difference was seen in expenditure on adult cancer patients with special reference to ‘Gender’ at various levels.

Key findings

Distribution of differences between total expenditure according to gender shows that mean expenditure of male was Rs 1,13,538.47 while in females it was Rs 34124.91. This difference in total expenditure and in relation to gender was found significant. Same is with medical expenditure and non-medical expenditure. Distribution of OPD expenditure according to gender shows that mean OPD expenditure in males was Rs 1,91,118.37 and in females Rs 9031. Similar findings were recorded in other expenses. The ICMR has accepted this research and findings.

How to solve problem

Empowerment of women through policies can reduce disparities in women’s and men’s access to resources in the household for health expenditure. Intra-household discrimination is hard to tackle from outside. For that, message needs to be women-centric and services women–friendly. Because of gender inequality, women’s health is affected around the world. Factors like a lower income than men, more responsibilities at home, and less education impact health. This is the most significant finding in developing countries. How can this be addressed? There should be smart and resourceful economics for empowering women which should be creatively created by government, civil society and NGOs.

Also, at various international forums, countries should not limit themselves within their boundaries. They need to create some targeted orientation approach to end gender bias because of which women should get required attention in health sector particularly in fatal diseases like cancer.

(The writer is MBBS students, GMCH, Aurangabad).

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