Modern views. Ancient muse.
An Nyc edit, narrated in indus ink.
BY Surbhee | PUBLISHED ON November 10, 2020
Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, cities the world over are like giant magnets that pull people in from surrounding areas. The US is primarily urban with 80+% of the population living in urban areas. India, on the other hand is still largely rural as 60+% of people still live in rural areas.
While we may romanticize village life, it rarely is idyllic and in recent decades, villagers in increasing numbers have moved to big cities in search of jobs. It is a hardscrabble life in the city where migrants find work at the bottom of the economic ladder, earn minuscule wages, work in hazardous conditions with little protection, and generally live in cramped dorm style accommodation.
It’s also rare for the entire family to move to the city. It’s usually able-bodied men who leave in search of work leaving behind the elderly, women and children.
In a sizeable, developing country like India, access to healthcare can be hit or miss. The primary cities have large hospitals with world class medical facilities many of which have thriving practices focused on catering to medical tourists. In remoter parts of the country, access to barebones healthcare services, let alone high-quality care, is all but impossible without a journey of several hours, if not days. While Primary Healthcare Centers exist closer to villages, the chances of finding quality care are low, as absenteeism of health workers is a real problem, as are the availability of drugs and functioning medical equipment.
The lack of quality primary care in rural/migrant communities has many far-reaching and long-lasting consequences. Families reliant on money sent by migrant laborers may need to incur crushing debt at usurious rates to finance a medical emergency. And quacks and con-men are all too happy to fill the void.
A recent survey conducted in parts of rural Rajasthan state found that 68% of children had reported an illness in the prior two weeks and a third of women of reproductive age reported losing at least one child!
Recognizing the gap, the founders of Basic HealthCare Services (BHS) set about establishing a network of AMRIT Clinics in rural Rajasthan. Each clinic is set up in partnership with local, rural government and is staffed with up to three female nurses. A primary care physician visits the clinic once or twice a week and is also available for remote (video or telephone) consultation.
The clinics provide consultation, administer basic laboratory tests and provide treatment. They also provide safe childbirth services and manage emergencies 24x7. Outreach services include antenatal care, postnatal care of mothers and newborns, follow-up of chronic patients, and community education. Social contracts with private hospitals enable referral care. While heavily subsidized, the patients are required to pay a small fee for clinical services, which they are able to afford and no one is turned away due to an inability to pay.
So far, the network includes six AMRIT Clinics in southern Rajasthan that serve a population of roughly 90,000 people. 90% of the covered population is tribal and roughly 60% of the households have at least one economic migrant working in a city several hours/days distant.
We truly believe in AMRIT Clinic’s mission – to provide quality healthcare in rural/migrant communities with dignity, and at a reasonable cost. As an added benefit, the primary beneficiaries are rural/tribal women, children and the elderly – vulnerable groups that need help. We couldn’t be prouder of the association!