Bharati Shivalkar: Women at Heart
Pfizer’s BeLux Country Medical Director is passionate about fighting cardiovascular disease and empowering women
When Bharati Shivalkar was 11, she encountered a beggar on the streets of Mumbai that changed her life. The man had a massive tumour on his face, and the young girl pulled out her handkerchief to try to help him clean it. It was a fleeting moment that defined Bharati’s lifelong commitment.
Her newfound interest was nurtured by long Sunday brunches with her family. Bharati vividly recalls sitting around the table discussing many topics with her parents and siblings: from the physiology of the heart, to girls’ education, to being independent. After becoming a cardiologist, she was determined to fight gender inequity in cardiovascular prevention and treatment.
“Women suffer equally from cardiovascular disease, however this is understudied, underdiagnosed, and undertreated in women compared to men.”
Today, after decades of experience in cardiology, she has full awareness of the reasons for these persistent inequities and is committed to creating awareness about the same. Tackling the problem takes many forms. Bharati argues for a holistic approach that includes prevention and a healthy lifestyle. After all, around 80% of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is preventable.
Today, the EU has the opportunity to target this issue at the policy level. Gender inequity is one of the main pillars of the NCD (non-communicable diseases) Initiative. Achieving these goals and helping all EU citizens will require coordination between many different actors:
“We have to build trusting relationships, build bridges, and bring together many different stakeholders to ensure the success of this [the NCD] initiative.”
Bharati Shivalkar, together with her European colleagues, will continue to push for equal treatment and better health outcomes for all patients.