Ravi, Saumyadeep (my co-fellows) and I went to Dehari village on the Rajasthan-Gujarat border in Kotra block of Udaipur district in Rajasthan. The village is 23km away from Kotra. To reach to the village we had to walk 3km because of the lack of regular transportation. The villagers had houses on high hills, which were called “Dheri”.
One incident that has stuck in my mind was related to the neighbour of our host family. His name was *Mohan. Mohan was about 17 years old, a school dropout in class 10th. Mohan’s left hand was paralyzed. Initially we were hesitating in asking about his hand so we made some assumptions based on the multiple single stories, which we had in our minds. But during some random discussion he told us that he left school in middle of the year. Despite having a senior secondary school and oddity of the action taken in middle of session, I couldn’t not resist my urge to ask him about it. Then following conversation happened between us:
Me – Mohan, why did you leave the school in middle of the year?
M – Sir, I met with an accident and my hand got fractured. So I was admitted in a govt. hospital in Ahmadabad for 10 days.
Me – Why Ahmadabad?
M – It is more convenient for us to go to Kherbrahma (25km), and Ahmadabad (182km) rather than Kotra (23km) and Udaipur (250km).
Me – So why didn’t you resume school after your recovery?
M – Sir, I had plaster for 1 year on my hand (Indication towards left hand)
Me – (It was an earth shattering moment for all of us) Then why has your hand not recovered?
M – When the plaster was removed, the doctor said that it will recover slowly.
Me – Did the doctor suggested some exercises?
M – No. But when it didn’t recover, we went to Ahmadabad where the doctor said it will not recover now. I was stunned to know about the tragedy that had happened to Mohan at an early age of 15. Different thoughts came into my mind.
Me – But why did you quit school, you can get a govt. job under the physical handicapped category?
M – I will open a Kirana store and spend my life in comfort.
After returning to the house of our host, Mohan’s story was still haunting me. How a small accident completely changed his life for forever. If same accident happened in an urban area it may have not have taken even 2 months to recover. But with the lack of small interventions and guidance, Mohan’s fate completely changed. Though there was a small Upswasthya Kendra in Dehri and Samudayik Swasthya Kendra in Medi (5km from Dehri) where he could have got the required guidance. In villages people face similar issues due to their inaccessibility. They only prefer to go to Kotra for documentation work because their block office is in Kotra. Other small problems related to health and hygiene which lead to fatal diseases can also be avoided if conscious efforts are done by local administration. The doctor didn’t take his duty seriously and Mohan has suffered for a lifetime. Considering that the lack of information forced Mohan to pay multiple fold more, and still lose his limb. This was incident which we got to know in a village of 750 houses consisting of around 3000 people. Now I want you to imagine broader landscape consisting 15+ villages near Dehri.
Take 5 minutes and try to understand the scale of disastrous impact of improperly managed govt. services in the life of a common man. Similarly the following issues were also affecting local people:-
- Due to inconveniences faced while going to Kherbrahma by any sick person they tend to discontinue treatment after small recovery. This situation sometimes leads to development of drug resistance in body
People prefer to go to Bhopas who claim to cure their disease by jaadu-totka
“Dewara” is a place where people go if snake or other insect bites someone
In some of villages, quacks also practice medicine, in situations where there is a lack of availability of educated doctors or other medical representatives. This incident made me to rethink about the idea of universal healthcare of every Indian without any difference. Considering above findings and insights I strongly feel that it should be a fundamental right of every Indian to get treated equally irrespective of inherent inequalities. Though the village is very remote, we may argue that developing that is and providing quality healthcare has no strong incentives.
But before arguing in this direction hold yourself and think “Are they not human beings? Right to live is provided to them by constitution then how we can exclude them from getting treated if they fall sick of accident happened?”
*Name changed to protect identity