Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Impressions of a Stanford student's visit to Bangalore

H4H was happy to facilitate a visit by Shila Soni to the Department of Community Health at St. John's Medical College, Bangalore. Shila is a Masters student in the Department of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University. Given below are her impressions of her visit:

"While the goal of my visit to St. John's Medical College was to learn about community health in India, I left with the impression that the major challenges in this field are really not so different than those present in the US.

Visiting rural Bangalore, I observed that many individuals did not have access to healthcare due to financial constraints and their separation from major hospitals. Although the living conditions and infrastructure of villages don't always compare to what I've seen back home, many Americans face similar challenges when trying to get appropriate care.

I was also surprised to learn about the disturbing growth of non-communicable "lifestyle" diseases such as obesity in the area. While poorer residents commonly suffer from malnutrition and physical strain, conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are on the rise due to the adoption of sedentary lifestyles by professionals. This came as a shock because I arrived thinking that exotic infectious diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya were the greatest dangers for the population. While such diseases are still formidable threats, non-communicable diseases are also being recognized as key targets for community health interventions.

Furthermore, doctors at St. John's about cited raising awareness about health risks and encouraging behavior change as the most difficult aspects of their work in community health. This definitely hit the point that while innovative approaches may be needed to address health disparities in India, the core problems are quite familiar." .... Shila Soni, (MS-2008) Stanford