This post is a continuation of the interview with Dr. V.R. Purushotham that ran on Tuesday, April 23rd.
In an effort to better understand health care services in India and help expand public awareness, World Moms Blog Senior Editor, Purnima, has interviewed several physicians. The first in this series is an interview with Dr. V. R. Purushotham, a pediatrician in Bangalore, India, and is being run during World Immunization Week. He is consulting in St.John’s Medical College, Bangalore.
Purnima Ramakrishnan: What are some of the most pressing health concerns for children where you work?
Dr. V.R. Purushotham: The primary concerns are anemia, malnutrition and infections as these are major causes of poor growth and mortality in the community.
PR: What is the socioeconomic level of the area you work in? Are the families of the children rich, poor, middle class, etc.?
Dr. P: Being a referral hospital we see children from a varied strata but a majority are from a weaker socioeconomic level.
PR: What is your opinion on the alleged link between vaccines and autism, and how do you answer parents who come to you with those concerns?
Dr. P: There have been enough scientific studies to confirm that MMR vaccine is not associated with autism. The timing of the vaccine was a major reason as to why it was implicated. Previous scientific papers stating their association have been refuted. My view is that the damage caused by measles, mumps and rubella is far more than an unlikely association which is unproven.
PR: What is the biggest obstacle in India for all children to receive routine vaccinations? – Government policy? Financial resources? Supply of vaccines? Access to healthcare facilities? Trained practitioners? Geographical barriers/lack of infrastructure to reach rural areas? Cultural beliefs about vaccines?
Dr. P: The obstacles are multifactorial, but financial constraints and infrastructure would be the major ones. Community education initiatives have helped in this regard too and we are gradually seeing a positive change towards improved healthcare.
PR: And what could help overcome those obstacles the most? Political influence? Foreign resources? Medical staff training? Communication/Awareness campaign?
Dr. P: Better awareness and door to door coverage services would help us overcome these barriers .
PR: As far as you have followed World Moms Blog, do you think WMB has been making an impact in improving the vaccination and immunisation awareness in India? Or do you think blogs and internet do not reach those socio economic echelons where people do not adhere to vaccinations? And if so, how do you think WMB can help bridge the gap?
Dr. P: Any forum which discusses and promotes health from the grassroots in a positive manner is playing a constructive part in the society and WMB is one of them. Having said that, it is the personal and community based initiatives which tend to have a larger impact. I concur that the population with access to blogs would be well aware of the basic requirements of vaccination .
The fact is that you are and will make a difference to the people who do read WMB and I would urge you to keep up the good work.
This post is the first in a series of interactions with physicians and health care workers in India by Purnima Ramakrishnan on behalf of the World Moms Blog.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by The Alchemist, our Indian mother writing from Chennai, India. Her contributions to the World Moms Blog can be found here. She also rambles at The Alchemist’s Blog.
The photograph in this post is credited to Jennifer Burden and was taken at a UNICEF Family Health Day in Kampala, Uganda, where children were being immunized in October 2012.