Using hypothetical Facebook conversations and some satire, I have attempted to highlight the challenges faced by India’s poor in maternal care.
1. Almost 70% of Indians live in villages, and a majority of villages have poor govt health infrastructure and unreliable electricity supply. People manage somehow, but these ‘jugaads’ are dangerous & unsustainable. Besides, the option of private centres over govt ones tends to be very costly and often exploitative for villagers:
2. Disrespect and abuse of women during childbirth (including physical hitting) are common in much of India (mostly govt centres) and also in other ‘developing’ nations:
3. India’s govt health system has been dysfunctional for decades, but it still totters along, fuelled by the consistent and extraordinary heriosm of some of its professionals:
4. Our society’s obsession with the ‘male child’ needs no introduction. It also takes an unimaginable toll on the mental health of women
5. With successive govts (including the current one) refusing to spend money on poor people’s health, they have to contend with hospitals where there’s always a scarcity of beds. Two women, at times three, sleeping on d same small bed, is an embarrassing characteristic feature of India’s govt maternity system
6. Most of us have scant idea of the immensely overwhelming challenges, both in magnitude and number, faced by poor rural pregnant woman; and all these challenges are needlessly amplified by the callous staff behavior in many govt centres:
7. With successive govts (including the current one) refusing to spend money on poor people’s health, they have to contend with hospitals where there’s always a scarcity of beds. Patients lying on ‘floor beds’ is another embarrassing characteristic feature of India’s govt health system
8. (Hypothetical posts of two doctors)
As a society, we have immense double standards where we value highly our NRIs and persons working abroad, but are hardly impressed by someone who decides to work in our own villages or small towns.