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Health Care In India: Time We Thought About It!

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By Srishti Chauhan:

India, with its diversity in terms of cultures, traditions, contours, foods and crafts, has a lot to boast about. However, hidden beneath these delightful pictures is the underbelly of a deprived India.

Rajat Kumar, 8yrs, was admitted in hospital for a relatively simple appendix operation. However, he developed high grade fever after surgery which was proved to be an infection of the whole system and of a particularly virulent drug resistant organism picked up from the hospital and the little boy succumbed to it very soon.

Similar dangers are present worldwide but the difference is that developed countries recognize the dangers of fatal infections and reinforce measures to prevent them. In our country, due to the struggle to get its citizens treated by qualified personnel, these dangers are put on the back burner, resulting in devastating consequences.

Contracting infections in hospitals is a malady rising at an alarming rate in the country. With thousands of feet treading long distances to avail the far and few medical facilities, hygiene and sanitation have taken a definite backseat. Patients who come to a hospital or a clinic for treatment often face and suffer from a callous disregard of fundamental sterilization measures.

A very sorry state of affairs is evident in the rampant spread of Hepatitis B infections in hospitals. It is easy to say that medical personnel use badly serialized instruments… actually the tragic story is that these viruses require very special sterilization procedures which, of course, would be impractical to implement regularly for all surgeries and invasive procedures. These actually just require basic preliminary investigations which tragically are not available to the common public, being expensive to the majority and free in very limited government hospitals.

The infections in hospitals are not caused by the use of some highly multifarious instruments whose use is beyond the comprehension of the common man. They are, actually, caused by regularly used items like reused surgical gloves, non-sterilized syringes and intravenous sets, contaminated gauze, germ-laden instruments and medical products without proper certification. Again the tragedy is the lack of funds set out for the use of disposable sterile equipment and gloves, which is an irony considering patients are actually being paid a sum of Rs. 600  up to 1500 for a delivery in states like Uttarakhand.

The list of people dying and suffering from hospital acquired infections in India is mounting at a distressing rate. Dinesh Gupta, 12, is one of the many on that list. He was admitted to a Delhi hospital with a kidney problem. Instead of cure, he got an infected catheter. Now he suffers from a chronic renal failure.

Unlike popular perception, visiting a private hospital and spending a fortune on the same medical treatment guarantees proper healing, leading private hospitals in Delhi have come in the limelight for the very opposite reasons. Unlike financial constraint, however, these hospitals do this because of irresponsible money making and due to lack of fear because of improper inspections and inadequate punishments. According to the Hospital Infection Society, Mumbai, 25 – 35 per cent of patients admitted to city hospitals become casualties of hospital infection.

The solution to this problem is neither straightforward nor can be effortlessly implemented. In fact, there will be countless opinions regarding the upgradation of medical services in India. A country like India, with a huge shortage of academically and professionally proficient doctors needs more educational institutions directed towards producing them without lowering the academic standards.

In areas where there are competent doctors, a regular assessment of the functioning of the hospital must be done to ensure proper norms are being followed. Strict punishment following any laxity by the doctors will deter loads of miscreants. Currently, in India, graduates have to offer their services in rural areas for one year compulsorily. This provides very highly myopic and short-term solutions. Despite all these measures, a long-term solution to the problem would be developing infrastructural base and providing doctors with lucrative offers for working in under-developed regions of the country in order to improve health-care facilities.

India has a long way to go where standard of living for the citizens is concerned. Besides focusing on trying to increase the productivity and efficiency of India as an economy, it’s time we think about enhancing the Human Development Index (HDI) of India-the country and starting with re-organizing and improving health sector seems like a fine idea.

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You must be to comment.
  1. Aditi

    Health care + Health Insurance. One Huge issue we need to tackle.Equivalent tax collections in other countries are realised in the form of health insurance,unemployment benefits and social security. We need to begin somewhere.

  2. Aditya Patkar

    The views resonate the need for accountability with our Doctors and Medical fraternity. Also in terms of the actual problem discussed here, hygiene plays a very important part in the spreading of hospital infections. The state of Mumbai’s public hospitals is atrocious. Given the number of people they serve it is a miracle things get done there, all the staff deserve a pat.
    I think the problem is of few resources wearing thin, infrastructure in terms of more hospitals and more qualified personnel is a need which has to be addressed, other wise in a congested environment you will always have infection and bugs germinating and waiting

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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