tuesday's clinic at bamhni was less busy than usual: patients came in a steady stream and not all at once, which can sometimes be overwhelming. several patients with diarrhoea, two of them dehydrated. one woman very sick with pneumonia. four pregnant women, one child with a large abscess on her neck, another child with malaria, an infant with asthma. two old TB patients and one new one. a woman with rheumatoid arthritis, two patients with psychiatric illness, one with a seizure disorder on medication, four hypertensives. a man with an insect bite that has caused local necrosis, and old man with a malignancy. several with anaemia, two with otitis (a ear infection), a couple of dozen other patients with less serious problems.
and the first patient, a child, brought with abnormal behaviour for a month, when faith healing did not work. i brought him back with me to ganiyari and he is being investigated for the cause, having been started on medication to control the seizures.
patients come to the bamhni clinic from about 50 villages around, many crossing over from neighbouring madhya pradesh, walking a day or more to reach a nearby village where they stay with a relative to attend this clinic which runs on tuesdays. enterprising jeep drivers sometimes run chartered trips from a large village surhi about 10 km away, where patients can reach by bus. most come with serious problems, and the dearth of adequate medical care at an affordable price in this rural area on the border of chhattisgarh and madhya pradesh, is obvious.
this was one tuesday clinic inside a remote forest area, most tuesdays the clinic is busier and sicker than this one.
yet our Government seems to feel that people in rural areas have small problems that can be dealt with by badly trained health workers, or even a village level woman with minimal training, with no supervision or continuing support. access to secondary and tertiary level care - even primary care - is a dream for most of the population that resides outside large towns or cities.