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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Aaroogya Is Using A Door-To-Door Healthcare Model For Detection And Prevention Of Breast Cancer

  • IWB Post
  •  July 30, 2018

As per a Lancet study, when it comes to breast cancer, India has a relatively low survival rate of 66.1% for early detected breast cancer cases. To add to it, 8 out of 10 women do not survive for more than 5 years after treatment owing to late diagnosis. Despite this, the awareness remains poor and very few women make it to doctors, sometimes owing to family restrictions, sometimes to their own mental setups.

Aaroogya, a healthcare organisation, is aiming to change it. The organisation has adopted a door to door healthcare model for early detection and prevention of breast cancer. Twenty-four-year-old Dr. Priyanjali Datta is one of the firm pillars that has been holding together this healthcare system.

In a conversation that she recently had with The Better India, Dr. Datta shared the story of the inception of Aaroogya and how it is currently addressing one of the major healthcare challenges in the country.

“I was in college when the urge to do something meaningful struck. We would conduct and participate in fashion shows as a means to earning money. All the earnings would then be spent on conducting public health awareness camps,” shares Dr. Datta.

It was in 2017 during her internship that she registered Aaroogya as a not-for-profit organisation and started working for it wholeheartedly.

Sharing how they decided upon the areas to approach, Dr. Datta says, “We identify a vulnerable location and work in that area. I hail from Meghalaya and the incidence of breast cancer in the North East states is very high.”

The importance of the initiative and the gravity of the situation can be ascertained from the fact that breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in India. Dr. Datta shares the kind of hurdles they face while approaching these women, “We encounter a lot of problems and even hostility from the young girls. The older women who are married and have a child are easier to speak to. The older women (upwards of 26 years of age) have faced or are going through health issues that they find difficult to discuss and hence our intervention is something that they welcome.”

In fact even before they started to work on the project they were told about how unwelcoming and dangerous the territory they were entering into was. However, through their persistence, they found a way to initiate.

“In working in the hinterland of India, we have come across so many kinds of people and communities. We worked in one village where, on an average, each family had five children, the maximum going up to 12. In another village, we found women to be so oppressed that their husbands would stand guard when we would talk to the women,” Dr. Datta says, sharing the reasons why these women remain devoid of all the cancer-related awareness.

She adds, “When we conduct a survey, we often ask the women about previous visits that they have had with the PHC doctors, and you will be surprised that more than 90% answer in the negative. The women in these communities cannot travel and hence, for them to travel to see a doctor is next to impossible.”

She thus says, “I realised very early on that unless we barge into their homes and force them to speak and let us examine them, we will never know what issues trouble them. The Public Health domain until then will remain incomplete.”

The team is now working to develop an IoT based device which will record the vitals of the patient and thus help in more effective monitoring of the condition.

H/T: The Better India

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