• Question: How different are the treatments & patients in rural India compared to modern day Britain?

    Asked by kamnathan15 to Shobhana on 12 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Shobhana Nagraj

      Shobhana Nagraj answered on 12 Jun 2019:

      Thanks for the great question! All over the world the most common condition causing deaths in adults, is now heart disease – both in the UK and in India. The most important risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure and diabetes. In the UK, we have a National Health Service (NHS, whereby these conditions can be easily diagnosed by a GP, and as the NHS is free at the point of care, people can book to see their GPs to get these tests done free of charge, and access medications needed to control these risk factors. In rural India, some villages are very remote, and the people there might not have access to a GP or to medicines to treat blood pressure and diabetes. Sometimes the testing kits for diabetes aren’t even available in very rural areas, or there aren’t people trained to use them. Although there are free hospitals and care provided by the government (including a supply of the most important medications at primary health centres) in rural India, these health centres aren’t always easy to access for very rural villagers, and they are often under-staffed, with no doctor. The villagers often feel afraid to see a doctor, in case they are asked to pay money. The most striking differences between the UK and rural India relate to the level of poverty and access to health care. Often in rural India, there are no doctors available, and instead there are village women, called ASHAs, who look after the health of their villages. I work to train the ASHAs to pick up these problems in their villages, and use digital technology to connect the ASHAs to a doctor at a primary health centre, so they feel more supported and can access free care and medicines when needed.
      In addition to heart disease (one of the non-communicable diseases), there are also infectious diseases in the villages (communicable diseases), which are often related to nutrition, unclean water and insects (such as mosquitos). We don’t tend to see as many of these communicable diseases in the UK, like malaria, dengue fever or tuberculosis. Hope that helps answer your question! 🙂