Lady village doctor shows way to transform basic healthcare

Even as the world prepares to celebrate Women's Day today, a woman from Patonda, a small village in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra, who is a doctor, has been left disillusioned by the apathy of her seniors towards a project she has nurtured with her own money.

Dr Manisha Lalchand Mahajan has transformed her government-run Primary Health Centre (PHC) into a digital centre with money from her pocket as well as contributions from her staff. She has developed 'Arogyadootam 2016', a digital platform at the PHC - but her seniors have not only ignored her project but also not given her an appointment to make a presentation before them.

Dr Mahajan called it a typical example of discouraging the start-up and digital missions known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's heart.

Speaking from Patonda, a small village famous as the home of ancient Indian mathematician, Bhaskaracharya and renowned artist Keki Moos, Dr Mahajan told The Asian Age that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Digital India' and 'Start Up India' missions had inspired her.

She said that with technical and software support from Vinod Parakh, a software developer, she had designed the Digital PHC, which, according to her, was the nation's first fully digital PHC which could be controlled and supervised even from an outside station using a cellphone.

''The PHC has latest digital pulse oxymeter, glucometer, blood pressure apparatus, thermometer, nebuliser, and digital weight machine. Moreover, the software can also test water samples from tube wells, rivers and hand pumps which are a major cause for the spread of water-borne diseases,'' she said.

Dr Mahajan further said that the transformation of the PHC has been so complete that a well-laid-out garden and clear-cut markings and signboards are not only easy to understand for rural people, they are a pleasant surprise for any visitor to the PHC.

Digital PHC software ensures proper registration of patients at the out-patients' department (OPD), complete digital records of pathology and health records of patients, and online pharmacy browser for searching medicines.

The software also gives out alerts to mothers and parents for vaccination of children, a system that keeps real time tabs on medical stocks, section-wise monthly reports, setting targets and reminders for doctors at the PHC.

With no response from the district administration and seniors from the health department, a frustrated Dr Mahajan said, ''I tried to make a presentation before the district health officer and chief executive officer of Jalgaon Zilla Parishad, but they did not respond to me. It's nothing but gender bias.''

She also said that seniors did not like the fact that credit would go to an employee working at a very low level.

Upon being informed about the experiment, Jalgaon collector, Rubal Agrawal, despite being a woman, did not respond.

Meanwhile, Girish Mahajan, minister from Jalgaon, heaped praise on Dr Mahajan saying, ''If such type of PHCs are developed across the state, the health ratio will improve and villagers will get quality treatment, putting an end to corrupt practices at PHCs.''

But he did not say what his government would do to encourage their spread.