A country that has witnessed tremendous changes in terms of technology and social reforms in the last couple of decades, India's health services still need to be systematized and even more accessible to all strata of the society. The second most populated country in the world finds it difficult to control epidemics largely due to the unpreparedness on part of the health authorities. The 2009 swine flu pandemic is firmly etched in my memory. I remember one of the first deaths due to H1N1 in the country happened at my hometown in Pune. The entire city was understandably panic-stricken and the local authorities temporarily closed down schools and offices. A lot of rumours surfaced about the little known new strain of influenza virus - H1N1. After several months of the pandemic, the authorities started the distribution of oseltamivir among those affected. Control and preventative measures were consequently delayed and the state of Maharashtra ended up reporting the maximum number of deaths and cases in India due to swine flu. There are many examples in history that testify the extemporaneous attitude of the health authorities such as the 1994 plague epidemic, the hepatitis outbreak of Gujarat in 2009, etc. A huge divide still exists between the poor and primary health care facilities in India. It is not an unknown fact that people from rural and tribal areas have very limited access to even a medical practitioner!
In India, naturopathy is considered as a medical system and yoga is clubbed with it for professional reasons. I joined the naturopathy and yoga program with an interest in preventive medicine and got an opportunity to study pre-clinical and clinical subjects and I developed an understanding of the human body and disease. This degree, coupled with my work experience with the Ministry of Health, further kindled my interest in public health. I distinctly remember my enthusiasm while participating in the workshops conducted by the National Institute of Epidemiology, Govt. of India, and Indian Institute of Public Health. Through these weeklong workshops I was introduced to the intricacies involved in public health and epidemiology in general. I developed an understanding of basic research methods and planning of epidemiological studies and the importance of doing the same especially in India.
Gradually, I started involving myself with some of the health campaigns of the Institute that involved arranging awareness programs, conferences, public health talks relating to the importance of sanitation and hygiene, etc. I was lucky enough to be a part of the establishing committee of a 'Pre-ART Care Centre' for HIV+ individuals. A case report of an individual from this centre was eventually published in a peer-reviewed journal as well. More recently, I had the fortune to participate in one of the brainstorming meets relating to policy-making for a Govt. of India scheme - 'National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)', where selected subject experts from different medical systems were invited. Due to my inquisitive attitude along with a scientific temperament and passion for writing, I was able to get eight publications in peer-reviewed journals over a span of fifteen months in diverse areas.
I believe . I aspire to use this Masters degree to further enroll in a doctoral program that can advance my understanding of the subject and to be able to apply it in the society. There is a lot to be learnt from the National Health Service, UK, for the rest of the world, especially India, such as their egalitarian and 'health-for-all' approach. This course would enable me to appreciate the policies and implementation methods of public health policies, evidence-based health care systems management, and qualitative research methodology among other things. According to me, taking cues from the successful models of developed countries for the progress of the developing ones is what globalization is all about.