Healthcare in rural areas
RURAL healthcare lags in quality, affordability, and accessibility for several reasons. First, distances are typically greater in rural areas than in urban areas, involving increased costs, communication difficulties, and transportation times for patients, medicines, and doctors alike.
Second, rural areas have by definition low population densities, often making rural medical infrastructure less economical in terms of number of individuals that can be served. Third, attracting and retaining well-qualified medical personnel is more challenging in rural environments.
Often, the best medical talent prefers to stay in urban areas where greater social and financial opportunities are available, leading to significant staffing shortages.
The Thar desert faces a number of serious health challenges. Infectious diseases such as gastrointestinal disorders, pulmonary tuberculosis, malaria, and diarrhoea are common in village communities. Diseases often spread quickly through village communities due to lack of preventative health awareness as well as the concentration of efforts of the people towards fulfilling their basic needs of food, clothing and fodder that pushes aside all other requirements like health, education, etc.
Even non-communicable diseases are quite rampant. These diseases like eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and night blindness are prevalent in many communities, especially in the older members of the population.
Some of the health problems like lung diseases and silicosis run with the primary occupation of the inhabitants, especially those working in stone mines. Reproductive health is often poorly managed and results in high pregnancy rate, high miscarriage rate, death at the time of labour, etc., due to both economic and cultural reasons.
Waterborne diseases like diarrhoea, amoebiasis and typhoid are also common in the area, which can actually be attributed to the lack of awareness about the cleanliness and hygiene.
The biggest problem faced by authorities in this regard is lack of awareness. One of the major reasons for such a deplorable state of health in these areas is the lack of health facilities. The challenges before the health authorities in the Thar region are multi-pronged.
It is not only the erratic rains and frequent droughts that lead to poverty and consequently to malnutrition and poor economic condition for a large part of the population, but also the inadequacy and inefficiency of the health plans working in addition to the unhygienic living conditions, lack of vegetation, harsh weather conditions and lack of proper planning.
Also, there are problems of lack of state resources. While medical needs of Tharis are many, the medical resources are available few. Doctors are often not available, and many villagers depend on local quacks and healers that are at best only marginally helpful.
Medical facilities such as clinics and hospitals are scarce. When advanced medical care is necessary, villagers must traverse long distances through the desert. Transportation in itself can be a prohibitive barrier or expense for many poor villagers.
These adversities call for action on the part of villagers themselves with support of NGOs and other voluntary organisations.
The solution lies in figuring out techniques for ensuring better health and improved standard of living for inhabitants. This is also to say that there is a need for community participation in realising the goals of a healthy Thar.