Sunday, December 17, 2006

Healthcare in rural India

Outlook carries a series of articles about doctors working in rural areas of India. The header article provides an overview of the kinds of efforts that are underway and the unique challenges doctors face in rural areas. This particular para caught my attention as I was guilty of this kind of thinking as well.

"What also angers doctors working in rural areas are misconceptions that are rife about the healthcare needs of "simple and hardy" rural people. Rural poor, they point out, are prone, not just to the worst communicable diseases, but all the so-called "lifestyle diseases" lazily correlated only with urban excess, and never with rural poverty and stress. For instance, the rural poor show up, far from obese, with diabetes so advanced that diagnosis and amputation happens in a single session. Yet, affordable access to insulin is a dream when even getting a basic malaria test is hard."

There are several short profiles (Chattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal) of doctors who have given up lucrative careers in cities to go work in villages. Finally there is an opinion piece that makes the case that the rural medicine should be a separate medical specialization in itself as it requires some very specific and unique skills. The following quote from this article hints at just how imbalanced health infrastructure in India really is.

"Seventy per cent of our population lives outside the cities but eight out of ten doctors and a shocking 80 per cent of all hospital beds are urban. Every preventable malady, like tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhoeal diseases, is many times more prevalent in rural India; so are infant and maternal mortality."

1 comment:

Dweep said...

Hi Smruti,
A surprised thanks for finding my blog and linking to it. You have some excellent resources here, that I've just started to explore.

My only complaint: you say nothing of who's behind this, what you do, and how someone can get involved. Would love to hear more, offline if you prefer (dweep AT planetd DOT org)