As a group we are just finishing up our first week together in Hyderabad, and as an individual my first week ever in India is coming to a close. I have finally triumphed a bit over my jetlag, staying up past 8 pm for the first time last night, and coming back to our lovely apartment in Durga Nagar is starting to feel a bit like arriving home.
This past week we spent two of our days at Sivananda Rehabilitation Home (SRH), a wonderful organization that provides medical care for patients with leprosy and tuberculosis, among other endeavors. We had the privilege of learning about leprosy, a disease previously foreign to me, from the chief administrator, and a chance to interact with a few of the patients who are currently receiving care. We were also able to experience their DOTS (Directly Observed Short Course) program – a well-known approach to providing tuberculosis therapy – through visiting their laboratory and a few of the clinics in which it takes place.
The community at SRH has been doing what it does for a long time, and it is obvious when visiting that each person is very good at it. The patients clearly benefit immensely from the care they receive. In the past, on medical related trips such as this, I have had the opportunity to visit other very well run NGOs. Similar to SRH, they have all had a niche, a specific disease(s) or population they are aiming to help. Even the private charitable hospitals, whose missions were to provide comprehensive medical care, did so for a specific subset of patients within the community.
These past experiences with NGOs have always been valuable, and the vast majority offered great examples of providing meaningful health care in the global context. However they have also often left me wondering about the people who are not benefitting from their interventions. Where, and from who, is everyone else getting their care? Another way for me to express this might be to say that it has felt difficult to get a complete sense of a health care system as an outsider on these trips; to really understand what it would be like to be a consumer or participant in a certain healthcare system if you did not have a special advocate or resource identified. Thus, it has felt difficult to gain a solid understanding on a larger scale of the needs of a visited country or community.
This week has given me a great introduction to the city of Hyderabad as well as an invaluable NGO, SRH, which provides care to some of the city’s people. As our time here progresses I am looking forward to learning more about India’s seemingly complicated health care system through our course readings, discussions, and most awaited, through our visits planned to a range of health care facilities throughout the city. I can anticipate that this will be the most comprehensive view of a health care system, outside of my own, I will have had as of yet.