It would be hard to say that I came six thousand miles and was immersed in a completely different healthcare system and not be changed in the way I look at global health and medical education. This experience with CFHI did help to improve my medical/health education in many more ways than I could have ever thought it was going to.
The first three days of the cultural immersion experience consisted of lectures by Dr. and Dr. Mrs. Dabak. Day one: anatomy and applied physiology of the female pelvis because if “you’re going to be seeing it, you should know something about it (Dr. Mrs. Dabak)!” As we progressed through this PowerPoint lecture, a lot of information came back to me but more than I thought was new. Looking back de facto on the program, the content contained in these lectures proved to be invaluable as we watched procedures, sat in clinics, and was drilled by the doctors on our knowledge of the subject that we were there to observe.
Not only did we learn the A&P of the female reproductive system but we also talked a lot about the implications of family planning, birth control, and abortion in a country that is riddled with the problem of over-population. Dr. Mrs. Dabak talked about empowering women to make their own choices about child rearing and their ability to have access to birth control. In a society that is very patriarchal, these decisions are tough and often the women doesn’t have any say over what happens to her own body. Dr. Mrs. Dabak made the point to say that women are now given more choices and have more options than they did before.
Dr. Dabak’s lecture took a completely different slant. This lecture was aimed to educate us on the state of maternal health and mortality in India. Maternal mortality is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as:
“death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy irrespective of duration and site of pregnancy from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy r its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.”
This definition set up the information for the rest of the talk. The am in the GYNAC world in India is to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Steps have been made in a positive direction to make sure that every woman receives antenatal and postnatal care in India. While we were observing at gynac and pediatric outpatient departments, I could see how these steps have been implemented. One such advance that is being made is to make sure that every birth is attended by someone who has basic medical training. Another one sees that each child is able to receive the necessary vaccines to make it through the first years of life.
As I enter back into the world of medicine and medical training in the United States I will not help but to think how fortunate we are for the low mortality of mothers and children due to childbirth. Being in India and seeing the clinics, both city and rural, has given me a new perspective on the situation of women not only in India, but in third world countries. Without this perspective, I would have remained an ignorant healthcare provider with limited education of the global landscape of medicine.