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Archive for July, 2007


Rickshaws, goats, people, scooters, camels, cows, bikes, people, peacocks, lizards, buses, people. The sights and sounds of the utter chaos that is Ashram Road (and pretty much all other roads in Ahmedabad) met me as I was riding back from the airport at six in the morning on Monday. I left Boston Saturday evening, met up with my mom during the layover in Amsterdam, and reached Mumbai Sunday night. We had to spend the night in the Mumbai airport for our early morning flight to Ahmedabad on Monday. Needless to say, I was severely jetlagged when I reached my grandparents house.

The first day consisted of eating, napping, and visits from a wide assortment of my parents’ friends and relatives. My grandparents have a flat in Ahmedabad near Paldi (“Anjli chaar rastaa” is what I tell rickshaw drivers), and one of my cousins currently lives with them. My mother was planning on visiting them, and flew over with me. Any arrival of people who live in America is met with either a phone call or a visit from all of my mother’s extended family within the following two days.

I had increasingly been in contact with SEWA in the preceding couple of weeks, and I called them upon my arrival in Ahmedabad. I decided to come in the next day to meet with Reemaben Nanavaty, the Director of Rural and Economic Development, for my orientation. I learned that my direct supervisor would be Veenaben Sharma, the person in charge of the telemedicine program, as Ms. Nanavaty kind of seemed like a big deal. I would meet with Ms. Nanavaty weekly, however, to discuss weekly plans, etc.

Overall, I haven’t really gotten many details about my daily activities other than that I should ‘evaluate their telemedicine program.’ I am the only person charged with doing this, leaving me with the impression that this is going to be very open-ended. I’ve been briefed on the program in a little more detail, and I will probably sit down with Ms. Sharma tomorrow (Wednesday) to make my plans more concrete. They seem very willing to let me dig deep into their system and explore the situation in more detail. Sounds fun.

July 27th, 2007

Who? What? Where?

So… I’ll use this blog to talk about my experience working with the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India this summer. Currently an undergraduate economics concentrator at Harvard, I have received funding from the Harvard SAI and SAA through the Ghungroo Grant to complete a project dealing with SEWA’s new telemedicine program in Gujarat, India.

A little bit about telemedicine (this might be a bit dry)…

Telemedicine consists of linking up superspeciality urban hospitals with poor, understaffed, rural hospitals in India, in order to provide otherwise inaccessible specialty consultation and training of health workers. With its potential to bridge the urban/rural gap in health care access and quality, telemedicine represents a promising solution to the persistence of poverty in a country plagued with health care inequities such as India. The Indian government and NGO’s have been experimenting with telemedicine over the past several years, and only recently has this technology developed to prove an efficient solution to meeting health care needs. Now, even the private sector in India has begun to embrace telemedicine as a profitable means to serving the poor. In short, telemedicine is kind of hot in India right now.

A little bit about SEWA and my project…

As a very large and influential NGO in India, SEWA has recently started its own telemedicine program linking up 2 private hospitals (the Apollo Hospital and the Vaghad Trust Hospital) with 9 rural district hospitals. My project is to help optimize their newly created system. I will analyze the cases attended so far and help design a system and process of telemedicine to maximize benefit to the rural poor. I will talk to hospital doctors and rural health workers and eventually help implement the proposed changes and orient them to the new system.

Although I’ll be based in Ahmedabad, I will travel to rural district hospitals in Gujarat for most of the week so I might not have regular internet access. That means that I’ll try to update this blog as frequently as I can, and aim for something regular at least weekly, if not bi-weekly.

Hopefully this blog will help me document my first encounter with healthcare in India and translate my experience as the rural Indian reality colors my perception of developing world… or something like that.

1 comment July 6th, 2007


July 2007

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