A study conducted in 2016 found that only 37% of women have access to healthcare in the country which is much lower as compared to healthcare access to men (67%). The outcome of the study, which was jointly conducted by Harvard University, AIIMS, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, and the Indian Statistical Institute, says a lot about the disparity in healthcare access for women in India. Another major deciding factor for the accessibility of healthcare facilities for women was their reproductive age, according to the study.
Maternal Mortality Ratio(MMR) of India for the period 2016-18, as per the report of the national Sample Registration System (SRS) data is 113/100,000 live births, declining by 17 points, from 130/ 100,000 live births in 2014-16.
The root cause of the high maternal mortality rate is poor prenatal care which can be overcome by proper guidance. Some startups have offer support to pregnant women to make their motherhood journey easy.
Preggy India is one such startup that empowers moms to be with utmost care and support, giving them trimester-wise guidance, personalized advice, and a checklist through their products and services so that they are equipped with all that they need during their motherhood journey.
The platform was founded by Aarthilakshmi Muthukumar and Daranya Muthukumar. Preggy was incubated at NSRCEL, IIMB through the Women Start-up Program. It targets working pregnant mothers addressing the real-time pain points faced by them during this journey while striving to strike a balance between professional and personal life.
“Being a patriarchal society, the least amount of attention is given to women in an Indian family. I think this change has to happen from that mindset that this particular stage of her life, she’s bringing a new life into the family or the society, so she definitely needs a lot more attention and care,” co-founder Aarthilakshmi said.
Preggy India touches upon the physical health as well as mental health of pregnant moms by providing a wide range of products like pregnancy food, hampers, gifts, and value-added services like prenatal yoga, childbirth education class, maternity photography, and lactation counselling among others.
“We are travelling on a path where we are trying to fix the problems of this educated high-income society in the beginning years and through this generated revenue we will be very soon focusing on the lower-income segment as well. We even want to partner with NGOs and government hospitals,” Aarthilakshmi added.
Another important aspect of women’s health is menstrual hygiene. There is a severe lack of awareness about menstrual hygiene among women in India due to the stigma and the absence of conversation around it.
A study says that nearly 71% of adolescent girls in India have no idea about menstruation until they experience it. The usage of sanitary napkins is also very less due to the lack of awareness. Only 36% of menstruating women use proper sanitary napkins whereas others use unhygienic ways to take care of their periods.
Chennai-based femme care start-up Plush focuses on female hygiene and provides multiple solutions to help women maintain their menstrual hygiene.
Plush started off with 100% US Cotton Sanitary Pads, Panty Liners, and Intimate wipes, and the idea behind was to give comfort and rash-free periods to every woman. The company was founded by Ketan Munoth and Prince Kapoor in the year 2019.
“We spoke close to 700-1000 women through digital forms and over calls and we found out that at least 70% of them face the problem of rashes, irritation, redness, or swelling due to the Sanitary pads they use. We wanted to provide a solution for this unspoken issue and decided to go for it. There was a lot of research done- almost for 2 years to build this brand,” Ketan said.
Plush includes a range of products like 100% US cotton sanitary pads, Pads with disposable pouches, Menstrual cups, Panty Liners, and All-Natural Intimate Wash. The company has curated its package in a way that covers the needs of a women’s cycle. The box consists of both Heavy flow pads, Light flow pads, and Panty Liners.
“One particular thing about traditional brands is that they use plastic from the packaging to the top sheet. So the first point of contact is plastic which is very harmful to your skin and Intimate areas. This was another pain point we kept in mind while developing our products. Starting from the Plush box packaging to the top sheet of the pads and panty liner we have made sure to eliminate plastic which is the root cause for all the problems,” Ketan added.
The company completed 2 years this August and it continues to build its community, what it calls “BLOOD SISTERS” and continues to provide utmost comfort and a Rash-free period to all the women out there.
Such healthcare solutions are not only essential but have become indispensable considering the current healthcare crisis the world is facing. The availability of these products and services ensures that the gender gap is narrow and more and more women come out to represent the country in all the sectors of the economy.