Global Health Partnership – Eastern Virginia Medical School 2017

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Lessons from Kolkata: Community Based Approaches to Global Health

The barriers to access of health care for the urban poor are experienced worldwide. Such challenges are magnified in India with 39 million people being pushed into poverty each year due to their inability to afford basic health care. The rates of maternal and child mortality remain alarming while health insurance spans a mere 20% of the population. Pratit International is the unique story of a grassroots initiative of local physicians, health workers, and civic leaders in Kolkata, India who are working to develop community based strategies to tackle these fundamental barriers to healthcare access.

During January through February 2017, a delegation of faculty, residents, and medical students from Eastern Virginia Medical School traveled to India as part of a Global Health Rotation entitled “Lessons from Kolkata.” The rotation focused on a bidirectional and sustainable partnership with Pratit International, a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging healthcare disparities in impoverished urban communities

The EVMS delegation worked hand in hand with local physicians and community health workers to organize a series of primary care clinics in four urban slum areas with severely limited access to basic health care facilities. The clinics provided patients with evaluations, essential medicines, diagnostic workup, and follow up care. Beyond simply volunteering in clinics, the EVMS team focused on sustainable quality improvement initiatives for Pratit’s clinics. Projects in quality improvement included developing an electronic patient database, organizing clinic flow and upgrading the pharmacy. In addition, the team went door to door to interview patient families on health needs and barriers to access of care.

To complement this primary care and public health experience, the EVMS delegation also visited Medica Hospital, an advanced tertiary referral center for Eastern India. At Medica Hospital, medical students and residents participated in clinical rounds in multiple specialties while EVMS faculty members delivered three lectures at the weekly medical education conference. In addition, specialists at Medica worked with EVMS physicians to manage complex cases ranging from rare genetic muscular dystrophies to neurodevelopmental disorders identified at Pratit’s clinics. Overall, the rotation fostered a spirit of camaraderie between communities half a globe away. Participants found the rotation to be a transformative and immersive experience in global health care delivery.

 Achievements at a Glance

517 patients treated during 11 mobile clinics

425 patients registered and given an identity card with unique barcode

598 diagnostic blood tests performed

72 diagnostic imaging tests performed

The Team:

3 local General Practitioners, 3 EVMS Emergency Medicine physicians, 5 EVMS Pediatric physicians, 5 medical students, 7 community health workers