Nilay Mehrotra, Founder, Janani talks about the enabling role of technology in mainstreaming of taboo & various health issues
The Indian healthcare ecosystem has witnessed a massive technology-led disruption over the past few years, further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology has become the driving force behind providing quality care to patients today.
We’re now in an era where physicians can see patients remotely and accurately diagnose their problems through telemedicine, even in the most rural areas. We’ve progressed from using technology to improve patient care and the healthcare industry, to impacting our society as a whole. Likewise, technology has been an enabler in redefining infertility and sexual wellness in India.
Despite growth and constant innovation in the reproductive health sector in India, conversations regarding sexual and reproductive health are not as commonplace. Owing to this, myths and taboos related to the sector are widespread. The lack of healthy conversations around sexual and reproductive wellness in mainstream media has left a large number of people confused, forcing them to be dependent on misleading sources of information.
Telemedicine has been especially significant in mainstreaming reproductive and sexual healthcare solutions. It has created a safe space for those who have in the past avoided fertility and sexual wellness clinics due to the stigma surrounding these health concerns. Online consultations have paved the way for convenient, stress-free, at-home solutions and services. This has been empowering to both men and women who are not comfortable with discussing their sex and reproductive lives with doctors in person. Even fertility tests can be done at the comfort of people’s homes today.
Another huge hurdle that digital medicine is solving is misinformation. Instead of relying on a pharmacist to give you a quick solution, you can now speak with a healthcare professional at your convenience who will give you a safer and more sensible solution.
Additionally, digital technology is a powerful tool in creating awareness. Social media especially has given people an empowering platform to openly talk about sex, sexuality and reproductive health. Many digital publications, blogs and influencers are very outspoken and are slowly improving awareness on topics like sexual and reproductive health. It has also helped break longstanding myths in this space, spurring the right kind of conversations.
Conversations around body positivity and mental health are more prevalent now. These help with breaking stereotypes, and empowering people.
Technology has definitely increased access to standardised fertility management solutions. ART or Assisted Reproductive Technology, which includes fertility treatments like IVF (in vitro fertilization) and IUI (Intrauterine insemination) have only started gaining popularity in India in the last few years.
However, there is a lack of financial and medical transparency in the industry. Most times couples don’t fully understand the procedures and the costs involved. In the process, these services end up costing them a small fortune. Technology based platforms can be useful in this regard, helping bridge this gap by offering more transparency and information, along with better choices for people.
Another widespread taboo is that reproductive wellness issues in India are largely associated with women. However, with awareness levels improving and an increased number of digital platforms, more and more men are stepping forward to voice their concerns, and to seek solutions. Thanks to the pandemic, many services have gone online and become more easily available to men who may not be comfortable discussing sensitive issues or visiting a clinic.
In short, technology has a pivotal role in breaking myths and taboos related to sexual wellness in India. Though we have come far, there is still a long way to go. Both in terms of creating awareness and bringing forth innovation, there is always more to do. Technology is evolving every day, and with it comes hope for more transparency and openness in the sector.