FOGSI hosts women health and empowerment summit

FOGSI recently concluded a two-day summit on women’s health and empowerment in India. The Aarogya Mahila Summit, supported by Abbott India and Global Health Strategies was hosted in New Delhi.

FOGSI is the single largest institution of obstetricians and gynecologists in India and globally, and is part of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).

Union health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the summit in the presence of Minister of State (MoS) for Health Ashwini Choubey, FOGSI president Dr. Nandita Palshetkar with Dr. Meena Agnihotri and Dr. Hrishikesh Pai as Joint Summit Convenors.

Dr. Vardhan spoke at length about past and ongoing government collaborations with FOGSI in addressing women’s health issues.

On the sidelines of the summit, he said, “FOGSI’s passion for serving people and their consistency in addressing women’s health pro-bono is unparalleled. Through a meeting of minds and a meeting of actions between FOGSI and the union health ministry, we can address many issues together, such as ending maternal and under-five mortality, anemia and family planning. We are planning to launch new initiatives and we look forward to your support in order to ensure health for all.” 

The summit brought together industry, associations, Union Health Ministry, Niti Aayog, NGOs such as Jhpiego and international organizations such as USAID, WHO, UNICEF and MSD for Mothers together to discuss a diverse set of issues, including family planning, reproductive rights, maternal and child health,  non-communicable diseases (NCD) set against diverse backdrops of legislation, quality care and research. 

Highlighting the need for private sector participation in women’s health, Ambati Venu, managing director, Abbott India Ltd said, “Women play a vital role in maintaining the health of their families, yet often neglect their own well-being. With unique needs spanning gynecological conditions, hormonal disorders, reproductive health, pregnancy, menopause, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, women’s health requires a focused and specialized approach. Abbott is committed to helping women live healthier and better lives, and to make their health a priority.”

The representatives from the ministry urged FOGSI to engage and collaborate on national initiatives such as adopting aspirational districts, promoting family planning in high fertility districts, supporting IEC on maternal and newborn health. 

Dr. Palshetkar elaborated on FOGSI’s vision and the organization’s commitments to the nation in her capacity as FOGSI President. Talking about reproductive rights for women, one of the main things on FOGSI’s agenda, she said, “Years of gender inequality has meant that a woman is still not in control of her own body and her health. This is where the role of advocacy and education are crucial in empowering women with choice, freedom, and autonomy to make decisions about their own body. Organizations like FOGSI can contribute immensely in offering non-coercive, non-judgmental services to advance women’s reproductive rights. Above all, we need to highlight the unmet need of 1 in 5 women who do not have access to contraception and safe abortion which contribute significantly to maternal and neonatal deaths every year. In order to address this issue, it is essential that we reach that last mile by providing and safeguarding reproductive rights for women.”

Commenting on the importance of the summit, convenor Dr. Pai said, “Women’s health is undergoing a transition where the burden of non-communicable diseases is rising, there are still unmet needs for contraception, there are inequities in accessing quality care. Over the years, public-private-partnership in healthcare has gained greater national discourse. FOGSI is working to support the government’s public health goals, to have a population-level impact. Collaborative solutions between the government and the private sector can help in achieving affordable quality care for all women. Platforms such as the Aarogya Mahila help in sharing knowledge, ideas and best practices between the public and private sector so that both can build effective partnerships in addressing women’s health challenges together”.

Issues around demystifying reproductive rights, the much-debated area in women’s health were also discussed. Anjali Nayyar, executive vice president, Global Health Strategies said, “Education, gender empowerment, socio-economic development are closely interlinked with reproductive health and rights.”

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