by Priya John, Amruta Bavadekar, Ameerah Hasnain, Asilata Karandikar
Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT), 2015 ISBN: 978-81-89042-69-1
Over the last few decades, systematic critiques of medicine and public health curricula in India have highlighted many lapses in the inclusion of social determinants of health in medical education. Health is often predicated on social structures with prescriptive gender identities and associated power relations. Needless to say, gender is a pivotal determinant of health. In India, medical education, comprising training and curriculum, is often divorced from gender theory and perspective. There has, therefore, been a call for a re-orientation of medical education in India to include gender in the instruction and training of medical students.
This situation analysis in 2014 explored the perceptions of medical educators regarding the relevance of gender in medical education, their perceptions regarding patients and gender sensitivity in teaching and practice on issues such as abortion, sex selection and violence against women. What emerged is the lack of understanding about relevance of gender in medical teaching, gender stereotyping of women in general and patients in particular and misconceptions about access to abortion.
The study findings point to the need for a nuanced understanding of gender among medical educators and students. The introduction of gender could pave the way for an opening up of medicine to delve deeper into how signifiers such as class, caste, gender etc. have a bearing on health. The medical curriculum and training must undergo fundamental changes to integrate gender so as to ensure the creation of a gender-sensitive and socially-relevant medical force in the country.