Saturday, August 15, 2009

HEALTH-INDIA: High Female Morbidity in Kerala linked to Migration

July 29, 2009 · Filed Under English ·
By K.S. Harikrishnan
Kerala, 29 July 2009 (IPS) - While Kerala, in southwest India, enjoys enviable indices when it comes to health and human development, the state seems unable to shake off high chronic morbidity rates among its women.

A study on the health status of people in Kerala by A. Ashok, lecturer at Kanhanged Nehru college under the Kannur University and P. Ibrahim, professor at Pondicherry University reveals that three-fifths of its female population suffers from illness related to chronic morbidity.

Morbidity is an incidence of ill health or a state of being diseased. Kerala is the only Indian state with an overall male-female ratio in favour of females.

The study published in March 2009 was based on data between January and May 2005. Dr. N. Manju, scientist at Sree Chithira Thirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Kerala, said in an interview that females above 35 years are now increasingly becoming prone to ill health associated with hypertension.

“Many studies conducted earlier had shown higher chronic morbidity prevalence among women particularly with goiter, bone and joint diseases,” she told IPS.

According to the report, there are four determinants that set morbidity especially in female-headed households.

There is an increase in worries and tensions for women because of large-scale male migration out of the state, particularly to the Middle East.

Dr. P. M. Mathew Vellore, director, Psycho therapy Centre in the state capital, told IPS that women in Kerala generally felt more insecure because of the prolonged absence of their men. “Every household needs a male participant for family security and the possibility of violence is a great concern.”

Sociologists assert that despite Kerala’s famed matrilineal practices and other historical factors that created a social ethos benevolent to females, mental torture of women has been increasingly recognised as an issue having implications for mental health.

Prameela Devi, a sociologist in Kozhikode, said that with women from in and around Thiruvananthapuram reporting experiences of psychological violence, the area ranked highest in this respect among the non-slum, urban areas of India.

“A woman has more worries and tensions. She wants to manage the social obligation around her. If her partner is irresponsible, she will suffer more. Where security is lost, there is a possibility of violence,” she explained.

Changing food habits, including overeating, and unhealthy lifestyles also contribute to morbidity, the report maintained.

The fourth determinant that plays an important role in higher morbidity prevalence is denial of nutritious food and other privileges, the report added.

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