As India is preparing to vaccinate most of its population against the COVID-19 disease, India’s immunisation programme and its readiness have come to the fore as a matter of discussion. Immunisation is a proven tool to control and eliminate life-threatening diseases. India has numerous schemes and programmes to save its population from various diseases and it has the legacy of adhering to reach the goals it set for itself. The Government of India in collaboration with the States runs various immunisation programmes throughout the country and ensures the health and wellness of its population. At the same, the country faces several challenges in delivering vaccines to targeted beneficiaries and thus it will be keenly observed how the nation deals with the challenges in administering its immunisation programmes.
In a recent development, the High Court of Gujarat proposed a set of nine-point guidelines to combat the problem of menstrual taboo in India. The bench also sought the opinion of the state and centre on the proposed set of guidelines. This has brought the issue of menstrual hygiene to the centre of discussion. Menstrual taboo and hygiene have been a topic of discussion for a long time in India yet there has been very little progress noticed in this domain. Taboos related to menstruation have multi-dimensional effects on a woman’s life and health. There is a lack of awareness among Indian women regarding menstrual hygiene. Given such a grim situation, it has become important that these issues are taken for discussion and appropriate measures are taken to address these issues.
Violence against women in India is an issue deeply rooted in societal norms and economic dependence. Female feticide, domestic violence, sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence constitute the reality of most girls’ and women’s lives in India. During the first four phases of the COVID-19-related lockdown, Indian women filed more domestic violence complaints than recorded in a similar period in the last 10 years. But even this unusual spurt is only the tip of the iceberg as 86% of women who experience domestic violence do not seek help in India.
The union cabinet recently approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The move is expected to liberalise the practice of abortion and is long overdue. The move has been called for by many women’s rights groups and even the Supreme Court. The move is also significant as liberal abortion laws have been linked with a decline in unsafe abortions and abortion rates in general.
According to the recently released Sample Registration System (SRS), India’s Maternal Mortality Ratio has declined from 130 per 1 lakh live births in 2014-16 to 122 per 1 lakh live births in 2015-17. This is of significance as it means that about 2,000 maternal deaths have been prevented each year. This may be due to the improving accessibility and affordability to healthcare and also due to increasing awareness about the benefits of the public health system.
Recently, the Lok Sabha has passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) bill, 2016 which prohibits commercial surrogacy and allows only altruistic surrogacy. The bill seeks to protect the rights of the surrogate mother and the child born from surrogacy and promotes ethical surrogacy. However, it falls short of addressing certain key concerns regarding the surrogacy in India.