ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Putting Health on People's Agenda

What happens when people take on the responsibility of 're-educating' doctors on rational care? An unusual experiment in Dahanu, an adivasi-dominated taluka in Maharashtra.

May 19: In Dahanu, the headquarters of an adivasi taluka in Thane district, more than 200 people march through the main roads of the town with placards and posters, raising unusual slogans: ‘Health care is our right’, ‘Stop cheating by giving unnecessary injections’, ‘What is saline – merely salty water’, ‘Government hospital should give all medicines’, ‘Government hospital should give proper treatment’ and so on. They visit each private doctor on the two main roads of the town. Clinics of some of the unqualified doctors are closed. Others are confronted by the people and are asked to publicly declare that they will not give unnecessary injections and saline. Each doctor is required to put up posters against irrational use of injection/saline prominently inside their clinic/hospital. A few doctors are sympathetic and address the people expressing their support. Others are defensive yet have to state their support nevertheless.

After meeting these doctors in two groups, the people converge on the Government Cottage Hospital. The people grill the doctors and staff about availability of medicines, lack of transport facilities, illegally charging patients, ill treatment of tribal patients, etc. People recount various experiences in the hospital and demand explanations. Volunteers prepare and put up a master chart displaying the legal rates for various services in the hospital. Another poster is put up advising patients not to pay any money to hospital doctors or staff, but to give payment in the office and take a receipt for all payments. The staff is made to promise that various services will improve and illegal charging of patients will stop.

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