- Social Innovation Fellowship
The current state of Indian healthcare is desperate. India ranks among the lowest nations in the world in such indicators as infant mortality and life expectancy. In addition, allocation of resources has been widely skewed toward urban areas, further negatively impacting the health of rural Indians. Much of the problem can be attributed to the widespread lack of health infrastructure, especially deficiencies in skilled manpower. While a wide network of rural health practitioners (termed PMPs for Private Medical Practitioners) exists, the majority are poorly trained and practice medicine haphazardly and incorrectly. They are often colloquially referred to as "quacks." Through our project, we look to begin transforming this existing network into a legitimate health delivery system. We will do this through a training program that addresses the following problems among PMPs: lack of technical skill, lack of knowledge about proper medical practices, inability to be regulated, and lack of access to facilities. Our goal is not to provide exhaustive academic knowledge; years of medical school cannot be compressed into a few months. Rather, through hands-on training and vocational exposure, our program teaches the most important aspects of medical care. In this way, we will equip rural health practitioners to provide higher quality care. For things cannot continue this way. If we continue treating “quacks” as merely part of the problem, they will continue to be. It is time instead to view PMPs as a solution, one for which rural India has waited far too long. Only then can they become that.