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SANGEETA BRAJABASI

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 4/15/2016 |




India is the land of the Sanjeevani booti. But one mountain and one hanuman cannot solve all health problems for over the centuries. Therefore medical professionals with degrees and the medicinal compound stepped in to fill in the boots. Stay healthy wealthy and wise they said! While wealth and wisdom can be a little elusive, but good health is not a matter of chance. Staying healthy is a conscious choice which we all must make. Healthy habits should be a life style. In a world chasing everything slim, often the slim waist line becomes synonymous with trendy and healthy! Health is not one elastic band which will fit every person as per their contours. Every individual need to know his own body type and focus in inculcating a habit of healthy living. Regular medical checkups, healthy eating, moderate level of exercise, adequate sleep have all become mandatory to live a productive life. Only an apple a day will no more keep the doctor away.

My father was a doctor and his first job took him to a village in the state of Bihar. Years after quitting his job he chose to stay back in the same village. That village had very poor medical facilities. The lone hospital of the village was under equipped and often under staffed. Years have gone by but the state of health care in rural India has not improved much. I remember my father leaning over the microscope for hours reading slides of blood samples. That was not his job, yet he did it . He lived a life honoring his oath to the best of his ability. My father did not live long enough to see the journey of technology in fast forward motion from microscope to microchip. Science and technology has taken over the entire medical industry such that robotic surgery is also happening in today's date and time. But somewhere down the line I wish that medical practice does not become a business of profit and loss alone. A new paradigm in medical science is changing the way we think and perceive illness and cure. Specialization has narrowed down to super specialization. Even hospitals are now marked by various parameters of specialization. Today being sick is a complicated business. The patient has to go through a battery of tests, hold a fat file before he gets a sitting in front of a doctor. The cost of treatment often breaks the backbone of the family’s financial structure. The awareness of some form of health insurance is gradually spreading .Albeit development does come with a price tag.


The private sector is the dominant health care provider in India. All the facilities and modernization are happening in big city based hospitals. Addressing health issues for a healthier life always takes back seat in the mind of the vast population struggling to meet their daily requirements of living.  Public health care system has a big task to bridge the huge gap between the quality and quantity of the health care in target. India has a population of over 1.32 billion. Health care is important but major impediments like poverty and illiteracy come in the way. Public health care is free for those who are below poverty line. But between the minister and his ministry, the impoverished villager gets lost somewhere.  At the ground level we need better hospitals, more free beds, well stocked dispensaries, well trained medical personnel just to name a few. Most of the public health care centers are in rural areas. Health care providers are reluctant to visit these areas. There is a major problem of unequal human resource distribution. The journey for change has begun years back, but not reached any landmark mile stone yet. It is not that medical facilities need to reach the poor villages alone. The poverty hiding in the smart cities amongst the multitude of migrated population is also being very disturbing.


Talking of the city I live in, the life around me is of glitterati and dazzling lights. Yet there is much darkness beneath these blinding city lights. In my endeavor to stay fit I go to the gym once in a while. In my gym I see young men and women working on their body (almost punishing their body) with very sophisticated gym equipment. They burn calories, guzzle down protein shakes, chew on boiled chickpeas. To them this is definition of healthy life. I come out of my gym and as I walk back home I see the pavement dwellers. They have made this pavement their home for years now. They eat, sleep, cook and give birth under their plastic roof homes with paver block flooring. The contrasts of the two worlds trouble me every day. Without any medical supervision these men and women live an apparently safe life. How their immune system gets all the strength to fight bacterial and viral infections remains a mystery to me. Diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney stones, rheumatic heart, osteoporosis, and such alike must be playing havoc on their body too but they lack awareness. Their mortality rate would be much lower. But who is counting? My gym buddies and I would go on burning extra calories to fit into that ultra slim fit jeans! The true meaning of health care has to be understood and implemented at the grass root level.There is no jugaad or quick fix solution to any problem. The Sanjeevani booti has to reach every sick man for proper health care and the road ahead is mountainous.


[SANGEETA BRAJABASI]

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