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Reaching out to neglected spots of Indian healthcare

Jul 02, 2013

Doctors without Borders or Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), today launched a campaign to engage Indian people with pressing health issues in the country.

New Delhi, July 2: The educated segment of the society should work for the neglected sections of the society by associating themselves with the like minded organisations, said Farooq Sheikh, an Indian actor and a popular television presenter. Sheikh was talking to the field workers of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) at the launch of organisation’s campaign ‘Who cares?’ in New Delhi.

The campaign will spread awareness about providing treatment and counseling for patients with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, medical assistance for mothers and newborns in rural settings, tackling severe malnutrition in children up to five years of age, and spreading awareness about kala azar, a neglected disease with a high incidence in Bihar.

Sheikh rued that despite the world transforming itself into a global- village, it is ironical that people of one part of the globe are indifferent to the needs and requirements of the needy ones living in another part of the world.

Sheikh appreciated that MSF’s financial support system is through individuals and common folk. “Efforts of this kind by the people show us a ray of hope,” he said.

Popular Indian film director, Anurag Kashyap, said that filmmakers cannot make socially relevant movies unless the audience is desirous of such films. “Thinking audience can drive a director to make a good movie that deals with serious issues like conflict, health and the neglected sections of the society,” Kashyap said.

Talking about the health initiatives carried out by MSF across India, he said it has proved its credentials as a trustworthy organisation by the kind of accountability and transparency standards it has maintained. “Too many people die of Kala Azar (Visceral leishmaniasis-VL) that can be cured with timely and effective treatment. We should support MSF to raise awareness about this neglected disease and to provide treatment”.

MSF India’s General Director, Martin Sloot, said that the objective of this campaign is to engage the Indian people with the lives of those who have no or very limited  access to healthcare. “We believe that everyone deserves accesses to quality healthcare, irrespective of one’s race, religion, gender or political affiliations,” Sloot said.

Srijita who works with MSF as a Project Director for controlling ‘Kala Azar’ in Bihar, said that 87 per cent of the patients from Vaishali district of the state visit their structures.

Srijita, who quit her corporate job to work for the neglected diseases like ‘Kala Azar’, said that 33 districts out of 38 in the state are affected by this deadly disease.

Dr Swapan Kachop, Deputy Director for MSF operations in India said that their organisation has extensively used the government health infrastructure while delivering services in the far flung areas of the country like Nagaland in the north-east. “We are not trying to set up a parallel health system. We are keen to use the existing facilities like the hospitals and health-centres to carry out our health initiatives for treating people suffering from diseases like Tuberculosis (TB),” Kachop said.

Talking about the difficulties in providing healthcare in the remote areas, Swapan said that finding health specialists to work in remote areas for MSF is a challenging task.

Dr Marina who works for women and children in the tribal state of Chhattisgarh shared here experience of treating people who visit her from far flung areas which are sometimes as far as 40 kms away from their health facilities.

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