Changing the dialogue of healthcare in Sundarbans
Keywords: WHO, rights, healthcare, deprived community, poverty, Sundarbans, digital health, telehealth, conference, Unconference, unserved.
The Unconference for Solutions held at Tora Eco Resort, Bali II Island, Sundarbans from 23rd- 25th February 2023, concluded with distinguished panelists for Track III: Health and Equity, Dr. Sanghita Bhattacharyya (Senior Public Health Specialist at PHFI) was the moderator of the panel, Ms. Priya Kakkar (Senior Public Health Scientist; Director, PHFI-RNE), Mr. Kevin Schmid (Technologist with specialization in public-sector applications), Mr. Sujay Santra (Founder & CEO; iKure Techsoft Pvt.Ltd), Prof. Yoshiro Okazaki (Ph.D Associate At Waseda University) and Prof. Suman (Former Dean R&D and Head, IIT Kharagpur). WHO quotes, “The right to the highest attainable standard of health for every individual” is an internationally agreed human rights standard. Decline in health of the deprived community is a foregone chapter. Poverty significantly impacts health and health outcomes. We should seek accessible and affordable means by which
we can sustain a healthy living. Digital health seems to have a potential to pave a way for affordable healthcare and also make healthcare more accessible for these low-income communities. iKure along with its co-partners Centre for Sustainable Health Innovations, Public Health Foundation of India, Cattellyst, Recanteur and several other global organizations had organised a two day event, ‘Unconference for Solutions’ in the heart of Sundarbans to look for solutions in terms of Digital Health and its accessibility among the unserved.
Sundarbans is marked by frequent climatic shocks and inhospitable terrain both of which lays a heavy impact on the accessibility of healthcare services. There are very few quality healthcare options in Sundarbans; the number varies from less than one in 5 per 100,000 population. Some of the existing publicly funded healthcare is non-functional due to weak infrastructure or shortage of staff. Even if some are functional, the islands of Sundarbans are not even connected to proper roads. As a result this region experiences high morbidity in comparison to the state average. The dual burden of communicable and non-communicable disease is evident among the impoverished. Children in Sundarbans suffer from chronic malnutrition and
exhibit high prevalence of communicable diseases. Sundarbans also exhibits a high prevalence of mental health problems.
Healthcare though traditionally is slow to adopt yet it is a growing and ever-changing field. Digital Health has improved the healthcare delivery and outcomes, it has also altered the healthcare industry as a whole.
Telehealth plays a significant role in delivering proper healthcare in remote areas. Sundarbans is one such area, that is spanning over 4264 sq. km in India alone consisting of 102 islands of which 54 are inhabited by 4.5 million people. People inhabiting the remote islands face much hardship in comparison to the ones who
inhabit the peripheries. People of Sundarbans are exposed to poverty, deprivation and acute struggle against geographical challenges.
“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have, aptly stated by Winston Churchill. iKure is looking at different ways to take the first initiative in shaping a better tomorrow for the deprived community.
Digital Health would reduce dependency of patients on physical doctor consultation and promote timely prognosis of the disease providing sustainable patient health outcomes. Through the Digital Health and Equity panel, the focus was on building innovations with a top-down, bottom-up approach to empower communities digitally in an equitable way and digital technology contributing to sustainable attainment of
universal health coverage for the ones who need it most.
iKure invites all with open arms to join in the mission of developing health solutions that can bring accessible and sustainable care for the communities.