Indian Hospitals Need To Treat Patients Equally, Regardless Of Gender

I had a friend who suffered from abdominal pain when I was in the second year of my undergraduation. She eventually visited the doctor (seems obvious) and the moment she said that her abdomen was paining for the past six months every time during her menstruation, the doctor replied, “This is a universal phenomenon. Please, do not visit me for these trivial reasons since you are not only wasting your parents’ money but also my time.” That was the last day she had spoken to me. The next day she was hospitalised with symptoms of excessive bleeding, and even surgery couldn’t save her. She had been diagnosed with Stage 4B of ovarian cancer. The incident you read may be fictitious, but the truth is even harsher. We are living in the most elite decade of the twenty-first century. Still, culmination like marks, degrees, qualifications, job profiles is guided by gender. If you magnify on the issue, you shall realise that using gender as the platform, a woman’s pain is taken more lightly than a man with the same symptoms.

The state health department of Sikkim started the state-wide HPV immunisation program in 2018, providing free of cost HPV vaccination to all the eligible girls in the state. Representational image.

These indifferences in the gender gap catalyse women’s pain, which causes inflation in the various mental distress, ultimately leading to depression. Let me explain to you the situation that happens here. Imagine if Mr and Ms X have the same problem of excessive bleeding due to a particular injury. The hospital manages to get one bottle of blood, now what should one do? I would have distributed the blood equally to both the patients (considering the fact they have the same amount of bleeding and are kept in an equal environment). However, the reality is different. Mr X shall get the entire bottle of blood while Ms X shall be waiting for the arrival of the next blood bottle. Welcome to the twenty-first century, where we treat people as ‘Mr and Ms’ instead of ‘patients.’ Various pieces of literature cite that, when women and men present the same rigour of abdominal pain, men wait an average of 49 minutes before being treated, while the average wait for women is 65 minutes. Similarly, women are consistently prescribed less pain-relieving medication, even when restraints for weight are applied. The most apparent reason behind this distinction is because doctors believe that women are more emotional and dramatic than men, thus dismissing all the symptoms based on the perception than the physical sense of the disease. I do not think it is the doctors’ fault either. Our society moulds us into thinking that women are softer with tinges of pink in them as compared to men who evolve in shades of blue. But sadly, we don’t understand that even blue has lighter shades (some even lighter than pink), including azure white, alice blue, and tiffany blue. Most of the journal papers I went through while writing this claimed that women are given sedatives instead of pain-relieving drugs even in acute cases. These subtle actions suggest that we perceive women as calm and tranquillised who shouldn’t be worried or looking anxious even when they are groaning in pain. However, men have the liberty to do so, indicating how society grapples uncomfortable with ’emotional’ women and seeks to stop their loud or disorganised behaviour through sedation, over actually addressing the cause of their suffering. This is precisely why I created the nano tale at the beginning of this content. The repeated usage of sedatives enhances the discomfort level, which ultimately leads to severe consequences, including death.

I wrote this article not to prove that women should be given treatment prior to men. I have written this article to state the belief that we are equal. As soon as we enter the walls of the hospital, we are all patients.

Featured image for representative purpose only. Featured image source: REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee.
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