Health needs of the middle aged population: an unaddressed link

Dipti Govil, Indian Institute of Health Management Research

The estimated mean age at menopause in India is much lower than that of developed world (41.6 vs. 50 years). The life expectancy of an India woman is increasing along with the raise in the population above 45 year (19 percent of total population), indicating that an Indian woman will survive nearly for 30 years after attaining menopause. According to National Family Health Survey, 2005-2006, 18 percent women in India between ages 30-49 years, have undergone menopause/hysterectomy. So, there are many more women to suffer before they attain the status of Elderly. Indian health system primarily concentrates on the needs of women during reproductive span with a recent focus on the health of elderly. There is very little or no focus on health needs of women outside ‘reproduction’ and ‘aging’. The paper aims to address the health needs of post menopausal women and their treatment seeking behaviour. A community-based retrospective study was conducted in India on 2,600 households. A sample of 247 women with menopause/hysterectomy (<50 years) was identified and interviewed. Results indicated that menopause poses a big challenge during middle ages and to the healthy aging of a woman. Along with several expected menopausal syndromes, 80 percent women reported to loose their interest in sexual intercourse and also reported several sexual health and urinary symptoms. Women also seemed utterly negligent of their health. They usually turned to medical services when it was too late and their health problems became chronic or irreversible. A lack of interpersonal communication between doctor and patient also existed. With the increase in life expectancy and population, various concerns associated with the health of elderly people are emerging. Therefore it is time to shift the focus of public health to address the emerging health issues of middle aged women and to fill the know-do gap.

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Presented in Poster Session 2