New Delhi, 30 August, 2019: FOGSI recently concluded a two-day summit on women’s health and empowerment in India. The Aarogya Mahila Summit, supported by Global Health Strategies and Abbott India, was organized at Hyatt Regency in New Delhi on August 28 and 29. The Summit was inaugurated with a lamp lighting ceremony by Shri Dr Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Minister of Health and Family Welfare; Shri Ashwini Choubey, Hon’ble Minister of State (MoS), Health and Family Welfare; Dr Nandita Palshetkar, FOGSI President and Dr Meena Agnihotri and Dr Hrishikesh Pai, Joint Summit Convenors.

Shri Dr. Harsh Vardhan spoke at length about past and ongoing government collaborations with FOGSI in addressing women’s health issues. He said,  “FOGSI’s passion for serving people, and their consistency in addressing women’s health pro-bono is unparalleled. Through a meeting of minds and a meeting of actions between FOGSI and the Health Ministry, we can address many issues together, such as ending maternal and under-5 mortality, anaemia and family planning. We are planning to launch new initiatives and we look forward to your support in order to ensure health for all.”

The summit brought together the private sector, associations, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Niti Aayog, NGOs such as Jhpiego and international organizations such as USAID, WHO, UNICEF, MSD for Mothers together to discuss a diverse set of issues, including family planning, reproductive rights, maternal and child health, and non-communicable diseases, set against diverse backdrops of legislation, quality care, and research.

The representatives from the ministry urged FOGSI to engage and collaborate on national initiatives such as adopting aspirational districts, promoting family planning in high fertility districts, supporting IEC on maternal and newborn health. International organizations expressed desire to collaborate on evidence generation, advocacy and capacity strengthening of healthcare providers.

Many of the conversations were centred around various national policies and government initiatives for medical education and women’s health. Dr Nandita Palshetkar elaborated on FOGSI’s vision and the organisation’s commitments to the nation in her capacity as FOGSI President. Talking about reproductive rights for women, one of the main things on FOGSI’s agenda, she said, “Years of gender inequality has meant that a woman is still not in control of her own body and her health. This is where the role of advocacy and education are crucial in empowering women with choice, freedom and autonomy to make decisions about their own body. Organisations like FOGSI can contribute immensely in offering non-coercive, non-judgmental services to advance women’s reproductive rights. Above all, we need to highlight the unmet need  of 1 in 5 women who do not have access to contraception and safe abortion — which contribute significantly to maternal and neonatal deaths every year. In order to address this issue, it is essential that we reach that last mile by providing and safeguarding reproductive rights for women.”

FOGSI is single largest institution of obstetricians and gynaecologists in India and globally, and is part of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). The foremost goal and mission of FOGSI is to ensure quality care for all women and work towards the well-being and empowerment of women across the country. The summit highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships and how FOGSI can collaborate with the government and other stakeholders on a host of initiatives in order to expand its reach and amplify its impact.

Commenting on the importance of the summit, convenor Dr. Hrishikesh Pai said, “Women’s health is undergoing a transition where the burden of non-communicable diseases is rising, there are still unmet needs for contraception, there are inequities in accessing quality care. Over the years, public-private-partnership in healthcare has gained greater national discourse. FOGSI is working to support the government’s public health goals, to have a population-level impact. Collaborative solutions between the government and the private sector can help in achieving affordable quality care for all women. Platforms such as the Aarogya Mahila help in sharing knowledge, ideas and best practices between the public and private sector so that both can build effective partnerships in addressing women’s health challenges together”.

Furthermore, highlighting the need for private sector participation in women’s health, Ambati Venu, Managing Director, Abbott India Ltd. said, “Women play a vital role in maintaining the health of their families, yet often neglect their own well-being. With unique needs spanning gynaecological conditions, hormonal disorders, reproductive health, pregnancy, menopause, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, women’s health requires a focused and specialized approach. By addressing these needs holistically across the spectrum of awareness, detection, treatment and management, healthcare companies play a critical role in helping to find solutions to some of these problems. Abbott is committed to helping women live healthier and better lives, and to make their health a priority. For many years, our portfolio has been offering innovative and effective medicines with the aim of enhancing the quality of life of women affected.”

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