India’s level of development has improved significantly,
but there are still wide disparities in access to healthcare and education.
About 75% of health infrastructure, medical man power and other health resources are concentrated in urban areas where 27% of the population live. Contagious, infectious and waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, hepatitis, malaria or tuberculosis dominate, especially in rural areas. However, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, blindness and diabetes are also on the rise, not to forget HIV/AIDS. This poor health status of rural Indians is reflected in the relatively low life expectancy, and high infant and maternal mortality rates.
Although remarkable progress has been made through the universalisation of elementary education – as is evident from improved access, higher enrolments and raised literacy levels – the current scenario of primary education in India is still characterized by irregular attendance, dropouts and non-completion. Research findings reveal that the reasons for this situation lie, to a large extent, in the socio-economic conditions of rural India marked by caste, class and gender inequalities.
…may only lie 170km southwest of the busy, bustling metropolitan city of Calcutta, but it seems a world away in all other respects. It is in many ways a typical Bengali village, with stretches of paddy fields, narrow mud roads and a breath-taking natural beauty. It has around 3.000 inhabitants and is one of 100 villages forming Nandigram Block I, with a population of 175.000. The majority of villagers are farmers, some are small traders.
The literacy rate is 60%, with 2 primary schools for children from in and around Gadaibalbarh. Awareness of general health, nutrition, sanitation and family planning have been much increased through the visits of Amar Lata’s health workers. However, lack of nutrition and a high birth mortality rate are still a grave concern and our eye care services are in demand from a far greater area, comprising 343 villages and a population of well over half a million.
…is the market place of the Sunderban village of Mahabatnagar in the Gangetic delta region, an area so remote and untouched, that simply travelling there is a big undertaking. The village itselfs counts 4.000 inhabitants, but it is part of an area made up of three Gram Panchayats, consisting of 30 villages and a population of over 40.000.
There is no direct medical facility available to this farming community. For any medical need, villagers have to go to Raidighi Hospital, which is 16km away and not connected by public transport. Health awareness is poor, due to a very low literacy rate and the challenge posed by people living scattered around different islands. “Local people are used to attend quacks or fake doctors…as they treat on credit.”