‘We need to change the narrative about health in rural areas’

When we talk about Health, or a Healthy state, one must keep in mind the three major aspects by which the term Health is defined

Dr-Satish-Gogulwar

First, our own family

Second, our house and community

And the Third, is village or city

We generally tend to make a mistake of associating health on the physical or mental parameters only. But, what we forget is, our family, cleanliness, right to the clean environment, clean water and nutritious food also coincide with health.

When we fall ill, we all go to the doctor. But, this is only the 10% part of our health. 90% of our health correlates with our behaviour, living pattern and, the lifestyle. If we have accessed to clean water, air, environment, nutritious food, then people will not fall ill. So, first and foremost, we should impart the training, in such a way that it reaches to the micro-level, to each and every household. If this happens, it will surely change the narrative about health in rural areas.

We must encourage each and every village to come forward and participate in the process of building a healthy society. Once the village is healthy, it will transcend into a healthy state.

The more robust a healthcare system is, especially in the rural areas, the foundation of a healthy state will grow stronger. It’s the backbone of a healthy society. If we can construct a strong rural health system at the grassroot level, we can definitely create a Healthy Maharashtra.

But, to make it happen, we need a strong political will, and a patient-centric approach. Today, there is an absolute apathy when it comes to the rural healthcare. There are huge gaps in the healthcare sector, which we have to bridge. Unless, we take a step in this direction, we can’t build a healthier state.

Building a trust among the rural or tribal people is the gateway towards the success. It’s a long process, but once the trust is developed, it can create wonders. For this, we must encourage each and every village to come forward and participate in the process of building a healthy society. Once the village is healthy, it will transcend in to a healthy state.

Bringing behavioural changes among the rural population is an important tool in this process. But, for this we must penetrate from in to every house. A mechanism should be developed to conduct health counselling at the door-to-door level. We have to also explain to them, that malnutrition is a problem of the village, not just of the one family.

Availability of specialised doctors in the rural area is still a major concern. If you take an example of Gadchiroli area, qualified doctors don’t want to serve in the rural sector. So, tapping the local workforce, and identifying the potential is another important aspect. The state should encourage, the local youths, to take up healthcare jobs. They should be selected and trained in handling basic healthcare management.

Also, those who wish to offer their services in rural areas should be motivated. The state should create a system so that it will bear all their expenses.

An accomplished Public Health System will be a real boon to the people living in the rural areas. ASHA workers are the eyes, ears and nose of the public health system. One well-equipped Primary Health Centre will take the load of the sub-district and the district hospital.

Staff crunch and medicine shortages are the other sectors where the policymakers and the government should focus upon. The rural healthcare policies should be planned on the basis of a specific area and the topography. Policies should be pinpointed, targeting the poor and needy.

There are lot of gaps in rural healthcare management. Bridging those gaps in planning, execution, implementation and accountability will take us on the path of a healthy state. This is the gateway of Healthy Maharashtra.

The author is the Founder of the NGO named Amhi Amachya Aarogyasathi which is based in Gadchiroli