Archive for the 'Health Care' Category

Interview with the Braveheart, Dr. Ritu Biyani

Today I bring to you an extraordinary story of a courageous woman, Dr. Capt. Ritu Biyani, who is based in Pune. She is a woman who has worn several hats – a dental surgeon in army, first Lady Officer paratrooper from the army dental corps, a mountaineer, skydiver and a thorough nomad.

Her story can be an inspiration to you, me and everyone who has faced, even for a moment, the dreaded fear that – This is it. The precious life that you have so far taken for granted, may no longer be there.

Dr. Ritu grappled with this fear in 2000 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought back and survived.

It is after the struggle for survival is over and acceptance for the inevitability of the situation seeps in; comes the hardest part – rebuild your new life. How you choose to do it, is where heroes differ from the common folks.

Dr. Ritu decided to dedicate her life for educating people on cancer, preventive measures and offering supportive care for those afflicted with it. She decided to reach out. To thousands of women and men, living along the length and breadth of the entire country. Yes, the length and breadth of the country. Literally.

She drove solo across the country, the four tips of India, along with her 14-year-old daughter Tista in a Ford endeavour for 177 days! Distance covered – a whopping 30, 220 kms! First woman to go on such a solo drive, she, along with her daughter Tista holds Limca Book of Records for first mother-daughter  duo  expedition on cancer awareness across the country.

Here’s a quick Q and A with the lady herself:

Why a road journey? Why this need to reach globally and not focus on just local awareness?

(Naughtily smiles) Yes, a good question when going only local could have made me famous as well, at least locally. But cancer is not a local problem. It does not recognize geographical, cultural, political, socio-economic boundaries.

I am a doctor, and yet I was taken unawares by breast cancer at a young age of 40. So my thought after survival was what about so many of the other women who in the course of multitasking in their different roles in daily life are unaware of their health. They keep their own health on low priority.  It is imperative that they must be forewarned and be groomed to prevent.

Traveling is second nature to me.  I am at peace when I am at roads. So I thought I would travel to people with my story, with scientific facts and basic awareness about cancer. I focus on oral cancer and cervix cancer, besides breast cancer.

That explained, I have undertaken several local initiatives like cancer walks, workshops etc. in Pune.

Continue reading ‘Interview with the Braveheart, Dr. Ritu Biyani’

Swine Flu Diary

I sneezed.

Immediately I checked if my nails were blue and that if I could breathe properly. Now I definitely wasn’t getting fresh air. I was standing in queue at a closeted billing counter of a departmental store. It was definitely hard to breathe fresh air there.

Other than me, everyone wore masks both inside and outside the mall.  Why not, I am in swine flu capital, Pune. I have to check my symptoms at every sneeze or cough, to be sure.

I do carry a scarf these days to cover my mouth like a bandida, but it’s a suffocating feeling.

Interestingly, Pune girls, even before we had heard of swine flu, have been tying headscarves (instead of helmets) while driving as protection against pollution. Their headscarves are unique in that cover their entire face and head except eyes.

Pune Girls Wearing Headscarves

Pune Girls Wearing Headscarves - Pic courtesy Eric Parker's Photo stream

A new Police Commissioner tried to ban headscarves in vain, amidst the hue and cry of Pune girls. So, owing to use of these headscarves I think, Pune girls at least are safe from air-borne swine flu contamination. 🙂

Continue reading ‘Swine Flu Diary’

Blog Action Day: Poverty, Health and Population

I could not miss writing post on this day even with self-inflicted busi-ness. Blog Action Day has a good cause (never mind if you think it is community building promotion gimmick). I was reminded about it gently way beforehand. I care, and I had written a blog action day poslast year as well.

This year the subject is poverty. Google helpfully offered me keywords: Poverty in India and Poverty in Africa.

Continue reading ‘Blog Action Day: Poverty, Health and Population’

Come, Fight Breast Cancer!

Pink Ribbon
October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. Pink ribbon is the International symbol of breast cancer prevention.

Breast cancer is the second most prominent cancer that assails Indian women. Urban Indian women are said to be more susceptible to breast cancer than rural women. A woman with family history of breast cancer is 15% more susceptible to the disease.

Read the complete post here at Its A Free World.

We Need A BIG Change—Health Care

This is going to be one sad post, as it is about sorry state of affairs in my country.

I was saddened when I first heard of this, I am feeling enraged when I write this. I do not want my post to be litany of complaints, I want to record my thoughts for the benefit of anyone who might care about these issues.

Believe me when I say all of these issues impact our lives. These issues concern every aspect of our citizenship, ranging from health care, religion, education, and law enforcement. I write this because I am aware we tend to give ourselves to a passive awakening, we do not rise unless calamity befalls on ourselves.

Let’s hear them all one by one.

Health care has always been most ignored aspect of life in India. Rural health has always been poor, so much that we have not been able to eradicate diseases like polio despite massive campaigns. Polio has been eradicated even in a third-world country like Somalia. Another killer disease in rural India is diarrhea. It feels strange even while reading this as this disease has a simple treatment—ORS solution. But statistics will tell you how poorly we fare.

However, this was not the reason why I started writing this post. It was the indefinite doctor’s strike at Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi that depressed me. Patients are being turned away from the hospital. Even the ones who require emergency treatment. Like five kids who got burnt due to cylinder leakage, a Pakistani heart patient, a Muslim woman who had a sever head injury, and innumerable others. They lose critical time while rushing to other hospitals. The lives of all such patients are at risk. God knows, how many may have actually d….

Before we jump to abuse the doctors—we must know their reason of strike. They were manhandled and hurt by the relatives and attendants of the patient who died while receiving treatment. It would also be unjust to blame unruly behavior of the anguished relatives and attendants for the strike. If I were one of those unfortunate who lost their kith and kin due to unavailability of the sufficient medical attention, I do not know what I might do.

And if I were the doctor who was being assaulted at the death of every such patient who died despite my best efforts, I would perhaps not keep such a job for the fear of my safety. One unfortunate day, public rage just might cost my life.

So why do the patients die? Lack of resources, less doctors, brittle needles, broken machines, emergency rooms without the facility of taking X-ray! Patients die while the doctors are attending other patients. Patients need to be transported to different wing for simplest of tests.

I ask, why we have such hospitals in the first place. It is not one such hospital that we have. We always see hordes of patients waiting, both indoor and out door. There is lack of hospital beds. And hospitals as Lok Nayak, they dupe both public and government. They are simply money-making institutions who don’t care a hoot about the health care. Why else a hospital would have such brittle needles that break while it is still in patient’s body! I am aghast.

Who gives permissions to open up such hospitals when they do not have adequate resources? Doesn’t any regulatory body audit the quality of infrastructure deployed?

After all, a billion lives depend on it.

Where do those grants go that finance minister announces each year in the budget? How much is the grant? How is it spent? Does anybody audit the balance sheet? Truthfully, I do not know the answers to these questions myself. But we should find out. Fast. I don’t want any of my near and dear ones to suffer in one of these hospitals.

Perhaps we should take a survey to check general health of all the hospitals of these kind. Only when we have all the facts and evidence, we can take other action such as file a PIL.

But we need to get our act together fast.

It’s quite late in night now. I will write about other aspects later. Next is religion. I will try to make it interesting matter-of-fact, I promise.

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Visceral Observations is written by Poonam Sharma. It is licensed to her under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License
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