Health

Married women in India have highest out-of-pocket expenditure for non-communicable diseases

Married women in both rural and urban India spend more on treating non-communicable diseases than other diseases, shows a study

 
By Priya Talwar
Last Updated: Wednesday 16 May 2018
Women bear the triple burden of diseases, including communicable, non-communicable and reproductive related diseases. Credit: Amit Shanker
Women bear the triple burden of diseases, including communicable, non-communicable and reproductive related diseases. Credit: Amit Shanker Women bear the triple burden of diseases, including communicable, non-communicable and reproductive related diseases. Credit: Amit Shanker

Whether a married Indian woman lives in a rural or urban area, is rich or poor, she is likely to suffer more from non-communicable diseases (NCD) than disabilities, reproductive system-related and communicable diseases, shows a new study on the health of married Indian women.

This is important as latest data from a nation-wide report, Health of the Nation’s States, showed that the disease burden of NCDs has jumped from 30 per cent to 55 per cent in the past two decades.

Published in Plos One, the study shows that married women in India have the highest annual out-of-pocket expenditure for treating non-communicable diseases, followed by reproductive system-related, communicable diseases and other diseases and disabilities. This was observed irrespective of whether she lived in rural or urban areas.

For instance, married women in rural India spent Rs 12,585/year on NCDs, twice more than on Rs 6,027 she spent on reproductive disorders. The study was conducted using data from the 71st round (2014) of the National Sample Survey Organization.  

Urban women also spent more on NCD treatment: Rs 12,845/year as opposed to Rs 10,149/year on reproductive system-related diseases. Their out-of-pocket expenditure wasn’t much different from their rural women’s when it came to NCD treatment.

Healthcare expenditure in private sector was more than two times costlier for NCD treatment, with women above 35 spending the maximum compared to women between 15 and 34 years.

In fact, urban married women spent more on reproductive system-related diseases than their rural counterparts. Women from poor households spent one-fourth of what relatively affluent women could spend on reproductive system-related treatments. But private healthcare is shockingly costly for such treatments. A married Indian woman spends seven times more in private health systems as opposed to public healthcare for treating reproductive-related diseases.

The study was conducted to fill the gap in data on women’s health, which mostly focuses on NCDs and communicable diseases, said the authors. Women bear a triple burden of disease—non-communicable, communicable and reproductive system-related diseases. India’s burden of poor reproductive health and child health and nutrition is greater than that in any other country, the study said.

One of the limitations of the study is that diseases considered are not diagnosed but reported by respondents.

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