24 January, 2021

The Rural Gangrene

Docs in villages need to be multi-skilled. For, there are very few of them.

Sandeep Adhwaryu
The Rural Gangrene
A city surgeon once accused me, "Your area is under-utilised by specialists". What he meant was that our team—who managed 90 per cent of our patients ourselves—denied him the heroic Visiting Surgeon status. Most of the time, city surgeons hare down to a peripheral hospital more than a 100 km away, operate with one eye on the clock and leave behind disasters. Many do great work in the cities but they cannot answer the problems of rural people.

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.

The government wades through its five-year plans, trimming health expenditure to levels below that of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and blindly enforces laws pertaining to healthcare. Take the example of blood transfusion. The government insists on blood banks, even though they are notoriously...


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