India is a vast nation, and although her cities are fine examples of structured and continual growth in an economy that is developing fast, her rural population is still among the most underdeveloped in the world.
The population faces challenges on several fronts and these challenges touch epic proportions when we take into consideration the conditions that prevail in the segment of Cancer Care facilities in Rural India.
Population and Access to Cancer Healthcare: The Imbalance
70 percent of the Indian population lives in rural areas of the country. Compare this with the fact that 95 percent of all medical facilities related to Cancer Treatment are available in urban areas and you know there is something that simply isn’t right.
Of course, one can find a little solace in the statistics that peg the number of Cancer cases in Rural India at half the number of cases in the cities, but yet another number jolts us back into reality – the mortality rates of those patients in rural areas who have been struck by the deadly disease is double when compared to patients in urban areas who have ready access to world-class Cancer Care options.
The imbalance, therefore, is real, and this disparity between access to dependable Cancer Detection and Treatment facilities in Rural and Urban India is affecting the rural population in a serious manner.
The Ground Reality
The first step in eradicating the threat that is Cancer is Detection. While the Urban population in India has ready access to detection methods, the rural population is usually unaware of the threat that is taking over their body even after the cancer has reached its end stages.
In Rural India, the everyday challenges of making a living and inaccessibility to healthcare ensures that visiting the doctor is a rarity. When one has to travel several kilometers to even find one, this trend is understandable. Therefore, even when a person is suffering, it is only when this suffering becomes unbearable that the person even considers seeking treatment.
Of course, this means that he has to give up his means of earning a livelihood for the duration of even the detection cycle, and this is the first impediment. Moreover, even where a doctor’s help is sought, and medical specimens collected, the relevance of the test results and the commitment of the patient towards finding a solution to his troubles depend on how quickly the reports return from the city.
Of course, then comes the treatment cycle itself and thanks to the dearth of Cancer Awareness drives, the patient and his family usually goes into shock believing that since it is Cancer, all is lost.
At this stage, even if the medical team convinces the patient to seek treatment, the patient knows that traveling all the way to the closest city, finding the right hospital and the right doctors without knowing anything about the details of the treatment itself and then, the most important element – being able to fund the treatment itself – all prove to be hurdles.
All these factors and more eventually lead a patient to accept this tryst with cancer as a twist of fate he just cannot fight.
Is There a Solution?
The rural population in India is scattered with limited employment opportunities. These two factors are primary among a long list that prevents patients from being financially independent to seek medical treatment even if he has to travel to cities.
Add to this the fact that health agencies associated with the Government have not really been able to overcome the hurdles associated with Cancer Awareness, Detection and Treatment in a comprehensive manner despite notable inroads over the years.
The solution therefore, lies with initiatives like the Saidham Cancer Hospital. More kind souls form the medical fraternity like Dr. Swapnil Mane need to make a decision to commit their expertise to the rural population and ensure that this imbalance that exists moves towards a solution. No matter how small a step may be, each one will help Rural India combat the mortality rate they are staring at right now, figures that in reality, translate into lost lives.