New Delhi: Noting that women have usually allowothers to take credit for their hard work, Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Hon’ble Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Government of India hailed the role of women during the pandemic and thanked the community workers, heads of the companies and women in general while presenting the prestigious Janani Awards, instituted by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council, to celebrate the exemplary contribution of women leaders in the making of a healthier nation on the International Day of Action for Women’s Health. The event is a part of ‘Shapath 1000 Days’, a three-year-long multisectoral collective led by the IHW Council launched earlier this year that will help the government’s efforts to improve women’s health parameters in the worst-affected districts of India.
Delivering the keynote address, Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Hon’ble Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, said, “Women mostly stay in the background while others take the credit for their hard work. The Janani award honours women for their contribution in the development of the society. Health is a critical empowering factor that impacts the wellbeing of the society. Community health workers on the ground, such as ASHAs and ANMs, played a very important role in delivering the provisions under ICDS and antenatal check-up during the pandemic. Under the Digital India programme, we have utilised technology to widen access to health services and remove the physical barriers of distance during COVID-19. With a robust start-up ecosystem, in which women play an important role, I am hopeful that we will be able to reach all those who need health services. In the past few years, the government has brought schemes like Anemia-mukt Bharat, Ayushman Bharat on the health front. The government has also taken note of the challenges of women entrepreneurs, and started schemes such as Mudra and Bharatiya Mahila Bank.”
“I am grateful to the IHW Council for selecting me for this prestigious category of Janani Awards. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected women disproportionately in all spheres of life. As community health workers, caregivers at home, and mobilisers in the community, they worked hard in several roles. Kerala faced a long-drawn pandemic with the first case surfacing on 30th January, 2020; we were able to trace them because we started preparing when we first heard the news of a virus surfacing in Wuhan. We successfully broke the chain and no one else was affected that time. When some Keralites returned from Italy and the UK, that was the second time we got the virus. We successfully contained the virus, that is important to break the chain, as much as mitigation. Our aim was to keep the potential of the virus below the health system capacity resilience, which we systematically increased,” said Smt K K Shailaja Teacher, Former Health Minister, Government of Kerala, and the Public Health Leadership awardee.
“There is no doubt that in India, women have borne the brunt of the pandemic more than men. Women’s health has been a forsaken priority for all of us at all levels, so much so that even in the 21st Century, young girls and women are still deprived of essentials necessary to maintain good health — about 64 per cent of our women still do not have access to something as basic as sanitary napkins. Even before the pandemic, every fourth woman in India had a lower BMI and every second girl was anaemic, conditions that lead to an intergenerational cycle of health and life issues. IHW Council is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of women through its ‘Shapath1000 days’, a three-year-long programme to help government further many of its programmes such as Anemia-mukt Bharat and POSHAN,” said Mr Kamal Narayan, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council.
An expert panel of members scrutinised the nominations to choose the awardee in all 12 categories. The panel included former Union Health Secretaries Shri JVR Prasada Rao and Shri Lov Verma, Prof. Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health, India & Chair of Global Kidney Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College of London, Prof YK Gupta, President, AIIMS Bhopal, Ms Nappinai NS, Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Dr Meera Agnihotri, President, WWW Foundation, Dr. Hema Divakar, FOGSI Ambassador to FIGO (The International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics), and Dr Geetha Manjunath, Founder & CEO, Niramai.
The other prominent names were Prof. Priya Abraham, Director, National Institute of Virology, Pune (Medical Research Leadership); Ms Uma Kalekar, Managing Director, Meyer Organics (Nutrition Leadership); Ms Ritha Chandrachud, Global Marketing Director, Immuno Oncology, Merck (Cancer Care Leadership); and Dr Shanta Kumari, Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India(FOGSI) (Women health Leadership).
Other awardees included Vani Manja, Country Managing Director, Boehringer Ingelheim India (Pharmaceutical Leadership); Dr. Minnie Bodhanwala, CEO, Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children(Healthcare Leadership); Ms Savitha Kuttan, Chief Executive Officer, Omnicuris (Digital Health Leadership); Dr. Gauri Agarwal, Director, Genestrings Diagnostic Centre and Dr. Arunima Patel, Managing Director, iGenetic Diagnostics (Diagnostic Leadership); Ms Richa Singh, CEO, Niine Hygiene and Personal Care (Health & Hygiene Leadership); Arundati Muralidharan, Manager Policy, WaterAid India(category); Dr Nandita Palshetkar, Director, Bloom IVF Centres(Women Health Leadership); Dr Bhawna Sirohi, Lead – Medical Oncologist, Apollo Proton Cancer Centre (Cancer Care Leadership); Dr P N Sylaja, Department of Neurology, Comprehensive, Stroke Care Program, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, and Dr. M. V. Padma Srivastava, Professor, Head – Dept of, Neurology, Chief Neurosciences Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (Stroke Care Leadership); Dr. Prakriti Poddar, Managing Trustee, Poddar Foundation and Ms Snehal Joshi, Co-Founder & Director, Healstation Foundation (Mental Health Leadership).