Rural healthcare is quite the powerful oxymoron in India.
It’s the India of 2016 and yet in the would-be smart, digital, cashless rural landscape, those who live in abject poverty and far-flung areas still have little or no access to basic medical amenities. The presence of a few functioning clinics, hospitals or doctors results in people travelling for several kilometres at a stretch to get help for minor problems. Often, they go without it.
And so, with this perpetual shadow of ill health hanging over a chunk of the rural population, can we be surprised at the anger and distrust at the rural healthcare system that most families harbour?
As it often happens when an emergency strikes, there are two choices: the horrifying path of deteriorating sickness; or worse, putting their faith in an unqualified doctor whose treatment often claims lives, with little accountability.
This is the scenario in which the misfortune of falling ill – the curse, really – fell upon Manohar of Barabanki district in Jaichandapur village of Barabanki. A village barely two hours from the state capital; a district with a dismal record of 175 beds per population of ten lakh, from government health facilities. With not enough money for doctor visits and ill-gotten advice from a local quack, he went from bad to worse – from losing his toe in an unnecessary surgery, to losing his life.