Engendered Access or Engendered Care? Evidence from a Major Indian Hospital
Debraj Ray, Jayaraman Rajshri and Shing-Yi Wang.
Photo: The Economic &
Economic and Political Weekly 2014 49 (25) pp. 47 - 53.
A central feature of many developing countries is the presence of significant gender differentials in health outcomes. Two potential factors that can account for this are that females access treatment later than males and that they receive differential care at the medical facility. This paper explores both of these in the context of eye care. The paper studies diagnostic and surgical outcomes of 60,000 patients who sought treatment over a three-month period in 2012 at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The results show that at presentation, women have worse diagnoses than men for indicators of symptomatic illness. To resolve gender-based health inequalities in developing countries, we need to know where these inequalities lie. This paper finds them in access but not care. The findings suggest that women seek treatment later than men for symptomatic illness. That no such gender differential exists for asymptomatic diseases suggests that women do not necessarily go for regular preventive check-ups at a lower frequency than men. The paper finds no systematic evidence that women and men receive differential medical treatment.