Today I visited my first hospital in India, the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Center (RGCI & RC). This is solely a hospital dedicated to the treatment or prevention of cancer. Although I originally came here with a focus on HIV/AIDS, Jayaa believes that it is important that I see this hospital.
One of the teachers from the Salokaya College accompanied me on this trip. She introduced me to many nurses that work in the hospital, and explained to me what a hospital experience here is like. Throughout the day she and the other hospital staff members emphasized the importance of preventative measures, or prophylactic treatment. For example, oral cancer is extremely common among both men and women. This is usually from chewing tobacco. Patients do not usually go to the doctor immediately after experiencing symptoms, therefore in this example, patients come in to the hospital once their oral ulcers have become cancerous. Unfortunately, women have a tendency to be more a culprit of disregarding prophylactic treatment. I learned that women discount their own health, until it is usually too late. Women either do not know about or opt out of receiving the HPV vaccine, making cervical cancer a popular problem among women in India.
First off, RGCI & RC is one of the top hospitals in Delhi. In addition, it is a privately funded hospital, rather than government-funded. This detail is key, due to the fact that today I learned that privately funded hospital require out-of-pocket expenses (insurance companies can reimburse the patient after the payment, however). Government hospitals are free to the public. The hospital I visited today was fairly similar to an American hospital – it is highly focused on patient-centered care. I would say that the largest difference between an American hospital and the RGCI & RI is that the latter is far more crowded. I felt like there were so many people around at all times, coming in and out of small rooms and doctors offices’.
Within a population of one billion, India cannot afford to have so many patients in the hospital with diseases that could be prevented. Like the United States, two major lifestyle diseases are hypertension and diabetes mellitus (both diseases that can lead to cancer or other complications). The RCGI & RC has a unit in the hospital that checks for an early detection of cancer. It costs them only 200 rupees (approximately four dollars) for a check up, complete blood count, and specific exams for each gender. Nursing students are also a great resource for spreading awareness. Nursing students go back home to their families, and teach them about what they are learning. They can make conscious decisions for their families in terms of what they eat, and how to take care of family members and friends when they are sick.
I came back from the hospital with so much on my mind. I feel that a great portion of India holds the necessary research for a healthier population, however implementing these research ideas proves to be a problem, due to unwillingness or lack of education. I talked to Jayaa about this, and for her, none of it is a simple or lone issue. On a more positive note, though, she said small advancements do make a large difference. After seeing what this nursing school has achieved, I fully agree.