Dr. Varadan Sevilimedu, a medical doctor from India and a DrPH biostatistics student at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, has published in The Lancet, for his 500-word collaborative correspondence titled “Gender Disparities in Water, Sanitation, and Global Health.”
The correspondence describes how, as the primary water collectors worldwide, women are disproportionately affected by the scarcity of adequate resources; however, global estimates of improvements in water access do not reflect gender-disaggregated benefits and burdens.
“The relevance of this article is paramount in developing countries like India, because gender related disparities exist in public health, but still go unnoticed either because of lack of gender specific health indicators or because of denied agency of women in the decision making process,” said Dr. Varadan.
A gender-based goal for water and sanitation is necessary to understand how compromised water resources and poor sanitation and hygiene affect women and humanity as a whole. To monitor this goal, generation of sex-disaggregated data and sex-specific indicators needs to be a priority to assess whether water improvements have a true impact on women. New research should seek to understand how women experience their water and sanitation environments and the resulting health risks of women due to linked burdens. Finally, and most importantly, the voices of women and girls must be central in water development frameworks to operationalise this human right. Water and sanitation services should be available in an acceptable, adequate, affordable, appropriate, and safe manner to all.
“I’d like to thank the Jiann Ping Hsu College of Public Health here at Georgia Southern University which serves the mission of catering to the needs of underserved populations and empowering rural communities, for instilling in me the desire and confidence to undertake this project,” said Dr. Varadan. “I’d also like to thank Dr. Isaac Fung, my supervisor for initiating and helping with this letter.”
Dr. Kelly Baker of the University of Iowa was the corresponding author. Dr. Varadan Sevilimedu and Dr. Isaac Chun-Hai Fung, both of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University were two of the co-authors.