To drum up support for the forthcoming Sundarbans Health Watch and to share findings with the stakeholders who inform Union Planning Commission directions on livelihood and health policies, FHS India presented their initial findings from a 2012 scoping study at a seminar at the end of November. The FHS panel session in the national seminar “Challenges of Livelihood and Inclusive Rural Development in the Era of Globalization”, organized by the A.K. Dasgupta Centre for Planning and Development, Department of Economics & Politics at the Visva-Bharati University, discussed the supply and demand axis in the study area with particular emphasis on role of rural medical practitioners (RMPs) and policy influence and research uptake (PIRU) issues.
Chair professor P.K. Chattopadhya delivered the welcome address, explaining the necessity and timeliness of having a proactive discussion on livelihood with emphasis on health as an inclusive subject in the backdrop of globalization.
Prof. A.K. Banerjee, Director, IDSK (ex-Vice-Chancellor, University of Calcutta) – in his keynote address – highlighted the absolute necessity of including basic rural health within inclusive rural development and explained the poor condition of India in public health indicators among her south-east Asian counterparts.
The FHS India session was chaired by Prof. Aparajita Mukherjee, a noted expert on health and livelihood issues. The one-and-a-half hour session included presentations on four papers based on findings of recently completed scoping study in the Patharpratima block of the Sundarbans along with a presentation on PIRU. The four papers covered the demand side as well as the supply side of the child health care market in the context of the Sundarbans.
The paper on health care markets sought to provide a differential picture about the rural health care market covering all the providers and the complex interplay among them in the backdrop of climatic shock. The paper on the issues of access by Debjani Burman examined the four dimensions of access – geographical accessibility, availability, affordability and acceptability. The use of a geographic information system (GIS) mapping to indicate the location of providers and the gaps therein drew the audience's attention.
The paper on rural medical practitioners by Nilanjan Patra drew the most questions and interest as well, while the paper on determinants of parent’s choice was acclaimed for its methodology which used an ethnographic approach to address the issue.
The presentation on PIRU honed upon the objectives of introducing to the stakeholders about the nascent concept of PIRU and a demand generation for a proactive value addition to the process. The discussion session saw a good discussion on the potential magnitude of impact a policy-oriented research uptake can actually have. Demand generation for the forthcoming FHS Sundarbans Health Watch Report and our future course of action resulted in a considerable interest and spirited response. Academics remained interested in a judicious and balanced mix of various research methods to inform them of the rural health care market and its allied dimensions for the Sundarbans in the context of its geo-climatic adversities.
The center is going to organize a global meet with policy makers and academicians in which FHS plans to have a panel discussion on its findings.