Dr. Arun Jithendra, Dr. Praveen Aivalli and Dr. Samantha Lobbo, attended a four day regional course on Good Health Research Practice (GHRP) by the Regional Training Center, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia from July 27th – 30th, 2015.
The regional course on Good Health Research Practice was jointly organized by the TDR, (the Special program for Research and Training in Tropical diseases) and Regional Training Center Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. The course had participants with diverse backgrounds from countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia and India. The facilitators for the course were Varalakshmi Elango and Patricia Henley from TDR; Yodi Mahendradhata and Riris Andono Ahmad from Regional Training Center, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM).
The aim of the course was to guide the participants towards having a standardized research protocol that could be used in newer avenues of public health research like implementation research. The course was spread over 4 days with modules comprising of lectures, discussions and group activities. The following topics were covered as the part of the course:
- Principles of research ethics and quality
- Study planning and management
- Informed consent
- Tools for data collection
- Tools for study conduct and quality assurance
- Study sites and study team
- Organization breakdown structure and Delegation log
- Study site checklist
- Data management
- Quality system
- Evaluating the research
- Reporting and Dissemination
The uniqueness of the course lay in the fact that each team were asked to bring their own research protocol. Each group went through each topic of the course viewing it through the lens of their own research protocol. This led to an enriching experience of self-reflection, identifying gaps if any, discuss solution to plug these gaps which we could then implement in our respective projects. The lectures were made interactive by case vignettes during each session which encouraged to bring about different viewpoints that further enhanced the understanding of each topic. Presentations of each protocol helped us understand the varying contexts in which each team was working and helped us realize that there is no single fit solution for even similar problems that could exist in different contexts. Overall the course was a good first step to start looking towards developing standards in newer areas of public health research which could potentially improve the quality of the research being carried out.
According to the Diabetes Atlas 2006, the number of people with diabetes in India is currently around 40.9 million and is expected to rise to 69.9 million by 2025. Similarly, 118 million people were estimated to have high blood pressure in the year 2000, which is expected to go up to 213 million in 2025.
To address this situation, the Indian government launched the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke (NPCDCS) to 364 districts and Tumkur is one of them.
I want to share my experience of working in Tumkur, one of the rural districts of Karnataka, as part of a research project aiming to strengthen care for hypertension and diabetes in two primary health centers (PHCs) with using available sources.
Link to Bheemaray V M blog’s on BMJ:- Click Here
During my summer of the year 2015, I had the great opportunity to visit the Institute of Public Health in Bangalore and to explore the Indian health system during a few days. During the first half of my internship, I was confronted with the great complexity of the problems in the Indian sector.
To begin with, I noticed that the government sector was truly avoided by the Indian population for several reasons. Some of them include a very bad coordination and communication within the government sector and the different ministries of health. I was shocked when noticing that two different ministries had built two health institutions next to each other without knowing it: one community health center and one primary health center, both lacking medical paraphernalia. Instead of coordinating and optimizing their human and financial resources to build one hospital, the government sector proved to be unproductive and non-transparent with regards to its actions.
Another striking element of the Indian health sector is the lack of cooperation and unity between the private and public sector. In most countries like the Netherlands, public and private sector work hands in hands and stimulate one another to provide quality healthcare. Talking to an employee of the Institute of Public Health working on a project to reduce the burdens of non-communicable diseases like hypertension and diabetes, allowed me to have a better insight of the relationship between private and public sector. I was told for example that the private sector would deliberately tell their patients that generic medicine from the government sector were not efficient, or even threatening to their health, which makes it inevitably difficult to imagine any form of collaboration between these two sectors of healthcare. Another example of hostility to collaboration between different actors of healthcare in India is the fact that private doctors refuse to use records or tools from other organizations or health providers, simply denying any other form of help.
My internship in Bangalore also taught me that health, and the importance one associates to it varies a lot depending on where you are. In Europe, health has become one of the biggest priorities, and people strive for good health in their everyday lives, whether trying to do some physical activity, to buy food with the least bad cholesterol or to take medicine with the slightest headache or feeling of pain. Health represents an important pillar in the European everyday life. In India however, I noticed that health does not come as a priority, because people still struggle for social recognition and acceptance. Having a social card to receive rice therefore becomes more of a priority than having adequate healthcare. This makes it difficult to implement any form of reform in the health sector that would be widely accepted by the population.
After seeing the intricacy of the health sector in India, one can be pushed to believe that one of the solutions to improving health would be to privatize the entire health sector to eliminate the competition, inequality and misbalance between the two sectors, and to guarantee quality healthcare. However, another lesson I learned is that the government sector does have necessary and beneficial influence on the healthcare. The government sector is the one sector genuinely interested in public good, and which always strive to help the entire population.
Furthermore, the government sector is the only sector that will provide preventive health care, which plays a pivotal role in overall health. This is due to the fact that preventive care is not remunerative and does not provide remuneration, making it worthless for the private sector to invest in.
During the second part of my visit, I was lucky enough to be able to discover the Adivasi community from Southern India and to get familiarized with a quite unique form of development based on empowerment and sustainability. During my visit of Gudalur, I learned a few essential lessons. One of the main conclusions I was able to draw from my visit is that development of a certain population can only be successful if it is population-based. External actors may of course come to teach and stimulate a community to develop itself, but the reins must be taken by the community. This allows to develop a feeling of responsibility from the population, of loyalty and thus of sustainability. If a community works together to reach certain objectives, it will also be able to enjoy the fruits of its labor, thus further encouraging it to carry on with a certain behavior. Only the people themselves are capable of clearly assessing the problems and thus are the only ones capable of coming with the solutions to certain issues. External help usually has the tendency to colonialize people and to render them dependent instead of empowering them. One of the teachers of the school of Gudalur, Ram, very righteously told us “We don’t look at the building, we look at the people. Buildings are ways by which you colonialize people” when referring to the simple architecture of the Adivasi hospital of Gudalur. All in all, this internship really made me reflect on the real nature of development: what really is development? Is development really the form we so often give it: material possession and financial wealth? Looking at the Adivasi community, I have learned that a feeling of community, of belonging and cultural identity can contribute so much to development, and that even minorities can achieve great progress without losing their integrity.
Following this experience, I have taken home some life lessons and made myself some objectives. As of September, I have joined the international organization Universities Allied for Equal Medicines, and joined in the battle to promote equal access to medicine. I was able to see that health as we see it in Europe is true luxury in comparison with India and realized how unequally the intrinsic right to health is distributed in the world. Besides this, I have decided to get involved with the refugees of Maastricht and want to participate in their integration within our society. Dr. Deva wisely advised us to always think of the minorities everywhere around us. Even in Maastricht, the Netherlands, thousands of individuals are forced to live in denial of their own identity, hoping to stay unnoticed in order to integrate the community. I am hoping to change this.
Hanna Schenck from Maastricht University was an intern at Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India.
Disclaimer: IPH blogs provide a platform for interns to share their reflections on different public health topics. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and not necessarily represent the views of IPH.
Dr. Vishal Rao and his team have developed this unique device for throat cancer patients who lose their voice box. Most patients of throat cancer who undergo laryngectomy are unable to speak due to removal of voice box. The patients eat through their mouths, but cannot breathe through their nose. They instead breathe from a hole in their neck.
Aum Voice Prosthesis – This device helps throat cancer patients whose voice box is removed after surgery to speak again, this time using their food pipe which functions like a voice box. They have named it Aum Voice prosthesis, signifying a primeval sound for a patient who regains his voice to communicate again.
This is a video showing Ramakrishna – my first patient for prosthesis speaking. He is a watchman. He went back to his work speaking effectively. He was unable to afford the western prosthesis owing to cost constraints. The European make prosthesis (most popular) costs around 25-30,000/-. the American make costs 15-20,000/-. The Aum voice prosthesis is priced at Rs. 50.
For further informations
Please Click on this Video Link
One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is to control the spread of HIV/AIDS. This puts a continuing concern on improving health services. Many projects are run by the government to address these concerns effectually. One such program is operation of ICTCs/STIs/ART centres in government hospitals. These centres have been successful in providing pre and post test counselling through trained counsellors to the individual/s coming for HIV screening. However, there are many challenges and barriers faced at bot Institution (Hospitals and Health workers) and community level (community members).
Poor infrastructure and facilities
A standard approved size room is given to counsellors for their work. However, at some of the ICTCs/STIs the counsellors are facing troubles in carrying out their work in the given space. The problems range from room given at one far end of the building, electricity/store room being converted into counselling room, room given at first/higher floors, absence of proper waiting area outside the counseling room etc. This could be taken care if room is allotted after making sure it is easily accessible, comfortable as well as guards the privacy of visitor.
The counsellors at almost all the ICTCs/STIs have to bear the burden of administrative issues. These range from low salary amount, delayed salary payments, petty politics at the workplace (at some centres), absence/delayed supply of essential work material like Kits for STI counselling. These problems could result in burnout of counsellor. Hence the concerned authorities should maintain the SOP strictly so as to enable counsellors to do their work effectively. Apart from these, often the counsellors have deal with the interference and pressure from local authorities (local leader/s, group/s etc.) in their work.
In the state of Uttarakhand, in the areas at great altitude most of the ICTCs/STIs counsellors have less patient’s visits. This is mainly due to absence of specialist doctors and specialised services in the hospitals at these places. The provision of these would mean more patients visiting the centre.
Capacity building for counsellors
The minimum qualification for counsellor’s job is bachelor’s degree. Hence some counsellors are neither from psychology/sociology/social work background, nor received any training in counselling. Some of them lack even the basic skills of counselling. This could be addressed by making either the aforesaid subjects or a training/experience of counselling compulsory for applying for the post. The newly appointed counsellors should be allotted centres only once they have completed induction training. In Indian society HIV/AIDS is still considered to be a taboo issue. Though the counselors are trained, some of them have their own prejudice. Often they are not sensitive and have indifferent attitude towards the sero-positive individuals. This could lead to patients getting discouraged about coming for treatment. Hence, providing trainings to sensitize health workers is utmost importance for success.
The sero –positive patients could avail ART medicines from the Link ART centres. However, their number is less in Uttarakhand, so more number of such centres would be beneficial for community as this would provide access to necessary medicines to the concerned person without many troubles. Patient load is high at some centres, which results in limited counselling period so taking up significant points can make session effective. Additional workload like filling of many formats daily apart from report to be submitted to concerned authorities is another issue, which could be dealt promptly with following proper work plan.
Need for community care centres
Distance is one major problem, which restricts people from accessing the health facilities. Finance is another issue which requires attention. Most of the people are poor in terms of finance hence lack both money and time (since they could utilize that time for work) to visit the facilities until their health issue becomes dead serious. Promoting NGOs/local groups to work would help people like providing vehicle support for reaching health facility
The community care centre (CCC) for sero-positive patients is not present at local levels hence a sero-positive individual who is at Srinagar in the state has to come down to Dehradun to avail the service. Also availability of seats at such centre is another issue.
Improving awareness in the community
HIV/AIDS is still a taboo subject, so there is a hesitation among community members to seek help like visiting health facilities for fear of character judgement or being out casted from community. There is absence/lack of complete and correct information on the subject. This results in people believing in many myths and misconceptions and often not approaching health facility for timely treatment. All this could be successfully answered by sensitizing community on the subject. This could be done through awareness campaigns, street plays, informative wall paintings etc. Involvement of community head and Panchayat members would also prove to be fruitful.
Supriya Chand was a student of e-learning course in Public Health Management(ePHM) conducted by Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, India.
Disclaimer: IPH blogs provide a platform for ePHM students to share their reflections on different public health topics. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and not necessarily represent the views of IPH.