NCDs: small changes, big impact

Resilient communities are healthy communities, and FIGO members around the world make a critical contribution. On the frontline of women’s health in 132 countries, they donate their time, expertise, and platforms to improve the physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health of women throughout their lives.

We are proud to celebrate their contributions.

Dr Hema Divakar is a member of FIGO's Executive Board, FOGSI's Ambassador to FIGO, and Co-Chair of our Committee on Pregnancy and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). This is a rising threat in women's health globally, and ​FIGO leads on a range of research, advocacy and best practice activities to improve both the short-term and long-term outcomes across the pandemic.

What FIGO volunteer activities are you currently involved in?

I co-chair FIGO’s Committee on Pregnancy and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), an aspect of the pandemic that is often overlooked. Cervical cancer has reached an alarming proportion among the Indian population, while diabetes is also reaching epidemic levels.

It is projected that by 2030, NCDs will claim 52 million lives annually. But services such as contraceptive choices and HPV vaccines, diabetes and lifestyle education, which FIGO advocates for, and which I also volunteer to deliver at my hospital in Bengaluru, can help to avert mortality. 

Why is this women’s health issue important to you?

I believe very simply that a women's health is a nation’s wealth. Health begins in the womb, and training and capacity building, research and clinical best practice are key drivers. As OBGYNs we are in a strong position to lead.

What motivates you to volunteer?

A woman’s healthcare needs vary greatly throughout her lifetime, but there are moments when you can make a long-term difference: such as the treatment and management of diabetes in pregnancy. This is an issue I am passionate about. It is complicated, but presents a wonderful opportunity to achieve a good outcome for both the mother and the baby.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in your volunteer role?

We are committed to doing our bit and giving back to society, and there is a joy in that. Sometimes even the smallest accomplishment can make a big difference in the life of a girl or woman, and there are many such small changes happening every day - but India is a big country and enough is not enough!

How has your life been shaped by other volunteers?

I learn many lessons from other volunteers, and am inspired to do more.

This interview appeared as part of a wider series celebrating FIGO volunteers. Find more stories here.