Health, Nutrition and food security

Dr Mira Shiva, Director, Initiative for Health, Equity and Society, and founder member, Diverse Women for Diversity, is the coordinator for the South Asian Women’s Network on Women’s Health and Nutrition.

Coordinator’s Report for the South Asian Women’s Network on Women’s Health and Nutrition:

Gender Concerns : Issues and Interventions

Team members:
Coordinator of the Network : Dr Mira Shiva
Dr Sabiha Hussain
Patricia Mukhim

Understanding women’s health
– Diverse situations
– Diverse Needs
– Diverse solutions
– With priority to women in vulnerable situations ( tribal, Dalits and minorities and women in conflict and disaster situations)
– Policies and conventions
– Affecting women’s health
Negatively – SAP ( cuts in social sector budget)
Unjust trade agreements
Positive – ALMA ATA Charter (comprehensive primary health care), ICPD, Vienna, Beijing

– Withdrawal of state from responsibility to its citizens worsened by food crisis, water crisis, financial crisis and public health crisis and global climate change
– Increasing vulnerabilities
– Despite increase in GDP and economic growth, decrease in HDI
Corporate control and women’s health
– Increasing corporate control of
Food – seeds, pesticides, GM foods (GAIN)
Medicine – vaccinations
Land – displacement, from food to non-food
Change in regulations
– Food safety and standards
– Environmental impact assessment
– Processing of food – denutrification of food
Women’s health problems
– Malnutrition and anaemia
– Maternal health – MMR
– Reproductive health- infertility
– Cancers (cervix, breast)
– Burns
– Chronic obstructive lung disease
– Violence against women a PH concern
– Mental health- PTSS (Depression)

Occupational health hazard of women 
– Household
– Hazardous industries
– Agriculture
– Health care
– Women and medicines
– Access and affordability of essential and life saving medicines for women’s health (WHO) NLEM eg oxygen, blood, ART ensure generic equivalents –eg for ART,MDR TB, Cancers, mental health, compulsory licensing – TRIPS flexibilities
– Withdrawal of irrational and hazardous drugs
– Clinical trials – ethical and regulated

Prevention of misuse of medical technologies
– Ultra sound for sex determination
– Surrogacy

Prevention of exploitation of women in the name of medicine
– Unnecessary caesarians, hysterectomy, medicalisation, pharmaceuticalisation, commercialisation- from diagnostics therapeutics
– Unregulated medical tourism
– Conserving traditional knowledge health practices and resources
– Traditional foods of nutritive value iron rich foods, calcium rich foods
– Traditional medicines (taxus baccata)
– Preventing bio-piracy ( eg turmeric, Phyllanthus niruri, karela, jamun)

Action Points
– Make the relevant information available to those interested in women’s health to SAARC women’s group
– Advocacy for gender sensitive and health promoting and protecting policies
– Resisting health destroying policies and agreements
– Linking up with existing networks working on health related issues – health, food, traditional knowledge, medicines, vulnerable groups
– Ensure meetings of the South Asian Women’s Network for Health and Nutrition

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