Women’s Health in India: A Business Opportunity Also?


India is the second most populous country in the world, with over 1.29 billion people. 48.4% of the total population is female. Despite the two decades of rapid economic growth in India, women’s health is generally worse than other countries. Indian women usually suffer from different health concerns due to poor nutrition, reproductive issues, medical problems, mental problems, low social status, poverty and violence. The health of Indian women has a direct link to their status in the society. Because of discrimination, women’s health lags behind those of males.

Women in India face issues like lack of maternal health, malnutrition, suicide, domestic violence, breast cancer and diseases like AIDS. More than 70% of women in India have some kind of health problem due to inadequate knowledge. Lack of maternal health decreases women’s ability to work and participate in economic activities and it adversely affect their child’s health. Maternal mortality in India contributes to nearly 20% of maternal deaths worldwide. High levels of maternal mortality can be attributed to limited access to care and disparities of economic conditions. Urban areas with adequate medical resources have lower maternal mortality compared to rural areas. States with higher literacy rates tend to have greater maternal health and lower infant mortality.

India has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in women among developing countries. Maternal malnutrition is associated with child birth defects and increased risk of maternal mortality. The government needs to address the issues on malnutrition to have a beneficial outcome to women and children. Suicide is a major problem in India, suicide rate was found higher in women compared to men in India. The most common reasons for women’s suicide are depression, gender discrimination, domestic violence and anxiety. Female sex workers who face different forms of discrimination has higher suicide rate.

Domestic violence in physical, psychological and sexual form is a major issue in India. Domestic violence is currently viewed as a hidden epidemic by the World Health Organisation. 31% of women in India reported to having been the victim of domestic violence but the actual number could be much higher. A study found that more poor women fall victim to domestic violence compared to middle and high-income women. One of the biggest factors associated with domestic violence against women in India was the prevalence of alcohol use by men within the households. Physiotherapy and Psychotherapy plays a major role in rehabilitating victims of domestic violence.

There is a growing cancer epidemic in India, with a large increase in the number of Indian women with cancer particularly breast and cervical cancer. Middle aged women between 40 and 55 years especially those from the lower economic status who fail to carry out regular health check-ups due to financial constraints are mostly affected by cancer. Early detection through regular screening such as mammography and colposcopy can aid in significantly controlling the prevalence of cancer in the country.

HIV and AIDS epidemic in India is spreading rapidly affecting women’s health. Women represent approximately 40% of HIV cases in India. Despite the alarming growth of the disease, most women in India have little knowledge of AIDS. A study found that a large majority of Indian women had never heard of it. The rise in infections can primarily be attributed to lack of education and lack of access to contraceptives like condoms. The government public health system should provide education and adequate measures such as free HIV testing to combat the growing epidemic.

More than forty-eight per cent of Indian population are female. Women’s health in India presents a big business opportunity for enterprising companies. The opportunities for companies to cater to women are enormous. They could find a whole new range of commercial opportunities in women’s health concerns. The growing population and rising health needs of women may create new opportunities for companies to meet these challenges. Healthcare is one of India’s largest sectors in terms of revenue and employment. The healthcare is comprised of hospitals, medical tourism, clinical trials, health insurance, medical equipment, telemedicine and outsourcing. The healthcare sector in India is growing at a rapid pace and any company will be wise to target this growing sector.