India Study Abroad

This past winter, I traveled to Jamkhed, Maharashtra, India on a Global Health: Ethnography study abroad session. I was humbled by the successful, sustainable health care the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP), founded by Drs. Arole, provided to the rural villages in Jamkhed and surrounding districts.

Sustainable by Development

Dr. Raj and Mabelle Arole believed in “comprehensive health care,” which means that the living conditions of the villagers were just as important as their health. And this so logical, since we know that how we live directly affects health repercussions. Because of this mindset, Drs. Arole decided to progress the development of villages to improve their health. Some examples of this were providing clean drinking water, covering water pits (to prevent mosquitos from breeding and spreading malaPicture1ria), and improving irrigation (for water supply during dry seasons).


In the doctors’ book,
Jamkhed, one story particularly struck out to me about the importance of development in rural areas. During a demonstration when the villagers went up to thank the Aroles, the majority of villagers were grateful for the water pumps installed in the villages rather than for the medical work the doctors were providing. In impoverished areas, it is vital to provide basic necessities to improve health.

Sustainable by Empowerment

Another aspect of CRHP I was impressed with was that it strove to change the traditional social structure. The caste system is thousands of years old and embedded in the Indian way of life. On top of that, the society is heavily patriarchal. In order to fight these norms, Drs. Arole had to come up with tactics to change the perspectives of both the health workers that worked for them and the villagers. They sat in circles rather than having the highest status person sit at the head of the floor mat. They placed the water pumps in areas where the Untouchables (lowest of the caste system) lived, so that different castes had to interact to get water. One key tactic was to train women to become village health workers. This gave the women more respect and responsibilities in the village. Furthermore, training a villager rather than bringing in someone new to be the village health work allows the village to stand on its own instead of relying on CRHP.

CRHP’s mission and impact in Jamkhed has shown me that sustainable health care in underserved areas is attainable. My experience in Jamkhed has reinforced my desire to serve in an underdeveloped community. And now, when I hope to improve people’s health, I will remember that development and empowerment are just as important factors as medicine to better comprehensive health.

Written by: Sharon Pang

Further Readings:

Jamkhed: A Comprehensive Rural Health Project, by Mabelle and Rajanikant Arole

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A Refresher on Healthcare in the 2016 Presidential Election

Amidst the ubiquitous poll numbers and televised debates that draw widespread attention to the 2016 presidential candidates, lies the issue of healthcare. With a variety of stances present in the field, it’s important to consider the potential plans that will shape the healthcare system in the years to come. Whether attune to or averse to the political landscape of the country, the policies shaped by the next commander-in-chief will impact us all. Here is a summary of the vision current front-runner candidates have for healthcare in America.

Within the Democratic party, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have quite the difference in their philosophy on the fate of the current Affordable Care Act. Secretary Clinton believes in keeping the majority of the Act [1]. Among her proposed policies include initiatives to put a limit to out-of-pocket drug costs [ibid]. Senator Sanders, on the other hand, has proposed a single-payer healthcare system that would essentially be a Medicaid-for-all system [2], though he too is seeking to address high prescription drug costs. The Republican group of candidates, on the other hand, has expressed a pronounced desire to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. Donald Trump believes in open competition and letting individuals shop for insurance, though in 2000 he supported universal healthcare [3]. Senator Cruz in 2013 led a government shutdown in an effort to defund the Affordable Care [ibid], and seeks to repeal the entire Act. Senator Rubio has opposed the Act, saying it stifles entrepreneurship [ibid].

On the subject of vaccines, there is more concurrence. Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders favor vaccinations [3], saying they are supported by science and electing not to vaccinate is dangerous, respectively [3]. Donald Trump says he’s for vaccines, but believes in “smaller quantities to avoid autism” [ibid]. Senators Cruz and Rubio believe in vaccinations [ibid].

In light of global health issues, the candidates have differing levels of commitment. In 2014, to combat Ebola Secretary Clinton proposed putting resources into Africa, and in 2007 pledged to support $50 billion towards AIDs relief in the US and around the world [3]. Senator Rubio said that only the US could combat Ebola, and that the World Health Organization could not [ibid].

In deciding which candidate is most fit to be the next leader of our country, we must ask what we believe to be the ideal and pragmatic health system ourselves. Do you believe in a centralized or decentralized system? A president that will place global health issues high on the priority list? These are all questions to consider the next time you hear from the 2017 presidential hopefuls.

American Election
American election campaign fight as Republican Versus Democrat represented by two boxing gloves with the elephant and donkey symbol stitched fighting for the vote of the United states citizens for an election win.

Written By: Prima Manandhar-Sasaki

Sources:
  1. “Presidential candidates on healthcare.” New York Times. n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016
  2. “2016 presidential candidates on healthcare.” Ballotpedia. n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
  3. “Health Care.” On the Issues. n.d. Web 16 Feb. 2016

Ask A Black Man

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The Question Bridge: Black Males project is a platform for Black men of all ages and backgrounds to ask and respond to questions about life in America. The artists created it to stimulate connections and understanding among Black men, but they also wanted to show the diversity of thought, character and identity in the Black male population so rarely seen in American media. In essence, the artists want to represent and redefine Black male identity in America.

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

The Question Bridge is at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd) — New York, NY, Until January 3, 2015.