Health is wealth and doctors are god!
We thank them for being our life saver whenever we fall ill. They are next to God for all of us. A deity in human form and shape. But what if when there is a fatal disease spread across an entire community for which there is no cure or no doctors available to save them from the paws of the disease? Risky, isn’t it?
The thought of our life ending definitely brings chills and goosebumps through our entire body. India has always been involved in the discussion when it comes to health care and proper medical treatment. Though India is developing and medical facilities are advancing rapidly, there are still cities and areas which require care and nourishment. Advancement is limited till urban areas, but when it comes to rural areas, it is a matter we should all think of.
It has been found that over a short span, there have been tragic medical emergencies, leading to the unfortunate deaths of over 150 children in Muzaffarpur in Bihar triggered by malnourishment, and the recent nation-wide protests over the alleged assault on a doctor in West Bengal by a patient’s family.
There has been an increasing shortage of medical professionals from doctors and paramedics to lab technicians and surgeons. Doctors essential to our lives. Without them, we can never recover from a disease, be it small or be it fatal. And if there is a shortage of doctors and people die due to a lack of treatment despite knowing that a small dose of medicine can cure us completely, it is even more heart breaking and heart wrenching.
The decline in access to medical professionals is detrimental to the Indian rural healthcare system, as the quality and availability of care for rural communities are significantly worsening.
According to a survey report by a daily leading newspaper by Washington DC, there has been an estimated shortage of about 6,00,000 doctors and 2 million nurses, say scientists who found that lack of staff who are properly trained in administering antibiotics is preventing patients from accessing live-saving drugs.
In India, 65% of health expenditure is out of pocket, and such expenditures push some 57 million people into poverty each year.
Additionally, as mentioned before, there is one government doctor for every 10,189 people (WHO recommends a ratio of 1:1,000) or a deficit of 6,00,000 doctors, and the nurse: patient ratio is 1:483, implying a shortage of two million nurses.
Diseases such as diarrhoea, amoebiasis, typhoid fever, infectitious hepatitis, worm infestations and poliomyelitis, measles, tuberculosis.
Malnutrition is one of the most dominant health related problems in rural areas. There is a widespread prevalence of protein energy malnutrition (PEM), anaemia, and Vitamin A deficiency.
Nearly 100 million children do not get two meals a day. More that 85% of children in rural areas are malnourished and 1,50,000 die every year. Pregnant women while giving birth die due to lack of proper treatment and lack of suitable environment to give birth. The mother as well as the baby come under huge clutches of diseases and it becomes a struggle, sometimes killing the newborn.
During farming, the pesticides and fertilisers used can prove to be poisonous for those ill or vulnerable. There is also a higher chance of developing certain types of cancer, from exposure to chemicals used in farming.
While India has one of the largest medical education systems and reputed institutions such as AIIMS, educated and ‘city-bred’ doctors/healthcare providers are not willing to serve in rural areas, many of which are still difficult to access and lack electricity.
Doctors mostly accept offers to practice in those where there are favourable opportunities and high-income areas, which is quite natural. Working in the private sector has been seen as a most enriching experience and of value whereas the public sector often proves to be a humiliating and demoralizing experience.
There is a lack of proper occupational development opportunities, accountability, and access to basic medical resources and ways to fulfill their roles as a health professional. People in rural areas do come under the clutches of diseases which if spread across can also take lives of the healthcare professionals themselves. Poor supply of medical equipment, lack of proper sources of medicines, lack of proper curable drugs and remedies, lack of proper rooms to work upon the medical facilities lead to the lack of motivation for doctors to work in rural areas out of own interest.
According to the Global Monitoring Report 2008 published jointly by the World Bank and the IMF, an emphasis that increases spending on education and health programs alone is not the only solution, but the quality and equity of spending are equally important.
Being a citizen of my country and according to my perception, I feel that:
1) Medical institutions should motivate the upcoming doctors to provide their education and services in rural parts of the country as well as remind them that the profession revolves around saving lives, no matter what.
2) NGOs and other healthcare institutions should connect with as many doctors as possible and put up health campaigns and information about the treatment of diseases on a frequent basis.
3) Rural areas should have access to easy travel and help patients get to hospitals for betterment and cure. If a city is too far, then there should be smaller hospital branches/health centres well equipped to handle emergencies.
4) All medical equipment should be updated and advanced so that just like patients in urban areas, rural regions too get the same treatment and access.
5) It was seen that the Indian government is of limited capacity in delivering health services, it should therefore, devise a shift in strategy that allows for the rural communities to choose between public and private providers – providing cash to the economically disadvantaged for out-patient care and insurance for in-patient care would be worthy.
6) More and more awareness programs should be conducted so that people lead a healthy life which also includes physical exercises and eating healthy.
7) While working, people should cover their mouths so as to avoid the worst effects of inhaling dust.
8) Big industries should too join hands in the initiation of coming up with healthcare facilities in rural areas, thus making India a completely safe and healthy country.