Sunday, February 21, 2010

More Health For All blogs

It is heartening to see that there are now a few more blogs written by people from the Health For All movement in India. Their blogs are slowly beginning to collectively represent the different issues and arenas that health activists work in, from the challenging ground reality of providing health care in rural India to the often esoteric world of health policy.

fieldnotes by Dr. Ramani Atkuri talks about the realities of practicing medicine and doing community health work at Jan Swasthya Sahyog, a unique hospital and community health project in Chhattisgarh.

Stories on Poverty and Rural Health in India documents an attempt by Dr. Johnathan Fine, an American physician and human rights activist to probe into the structural issues that surround poverty and ill-health during his visit to Jan Swasthya Sahyog, Chhattisgarh.

dip tinking is a personal blog by Dr. Dhruv Mankad, a doctor and health activist who has done a lot of work on training community health workers.

Right To Health Care is a blog by Dr. Ravi Duggal, who has worked extensively in the area of health financing in India.

However, conspicuous by their absence are blogs by younger Indian health activists, a group who you would assume would be more comfortable with online media.  It is difficult to hypothesize why this is so. Is it that the younger generation has nothing to say or is it that they are still struggling to find the language and context within which they can express themselves?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The New Anthropologist and Johnny Lever's Hospital

On February 1st, I joined a UCL-BALM research unit in Chennai as a research assistant studying stigma and mental health. This transition is an exciting one for me, since it marks the beginning of my work as an anthropologist. In the introduction of his book Global Health, Mark Nichter, a public health anthropologist who has worked extensively in Tamil Nadu writes about the problems of translating his profession into Tamil and solves this difficultly by calling his discipline 'anubhav shashtra', the 'science of experience'. This is very close to my own idea of what an anthropologist does. I aim to transition from a clinician who is an expert at experiencing patients to a hospital ethnographer who is an expert in experiencing clinicians and clinical care. I hope to look critically at how knowledge and understanding is created in the clinic by different members who inhabit it. I especially hope to explore how non-English speaking patients construct an understanding of 'English Medicine'. All this will involve me look at intimately familiar environments with a fresh eye and I start this endeavor with a reference to someone else who seems to have wonderfully fresh take on the Indian hospital. Presenting the comic genius of Johnny Lever.