On Tuesday morning we were brought to KG-Halli to visit IPH (Institute Of Public Health) which was where Roopa Aunty had worked earlier. We soon found out that the area was broken up into many wards and we would be spending our time in ward 30. The van dropped us off near the main IPH clinic centre and we were divided into three groups. Kailas, Mansi and I were to go on home visits within ward 30.
The aim of the house visits was to find out what the response was to the IPH diary. This diary was given to a sample of people some months ago; all of them were suffering from diabetes. We would be visiting them and finding out what the response was towards the diary after all these months.
The personal diaries were given as an alternative for the doctor’s prescriptions that are received by the patient. So, to keep tabs of doses of what medicine to take when, this diary is a much more convenient way of having your medical records in one place rather than on loose flying sheets of paper which can easily get lost.
The responses would be collected based on one-on-one interviews with the member of the household who was given the diary and was suffering from diabetes. We were led by Dr. Mrinalini who was mainly responsible for interviewing the members of the household. She took along two of her assistants who speak the local languages in that area really well. These languages are Urdu, Tamil and Kannada.
We walked through the broken, mucky and dusty streets into sudden narrow corners leading from the pavement inwards into an area of closely cluttered houses followed by a strange sense of solitude.
After a few moments of avoiding puddles and looking down to avoid garbage piles every few feet away we entered our first house.
We visited a total of three houses, and we noticed that there were clear gaps in communication between the IPH staff and the patients. People had not clearly understood what the purpose of the book was. Some of the patients thought the IPH diary was to be used for diabetes or high blood sugar problems only (because that was what people suffered from mostly within that area). In some cases the diary was never really used at all, was thrown away, forgotten or sometimes they were torn apart! In discussion I was told that by the IPH staff. So lack of money results in not going for check-ups for 6-7 months. We met a diabetic man who had decided to take his own doses of Insulin (which lowers your blood sugar). So you see, overall health is not a priority for them. Free medication cards are given to people below the poverty line, and these are often thrown away in the frustration of wanting immediate possessions such as food, money or a good job instead.
It was thought-provoking to see through a glass with different sets of values and ideas, a whole other world out there so disconnected from ours and yet so strangely linked, like an inescapable circle!