To Be Poor and Sick in India
MUMBAI — I first became interested in India’s government hospitals after my son was born last May at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai, one of the city’s well-regarded private hospitals. The care was exceptional, but a stay at a private hospital is a luxury that only a small percentage of Mumbai residents can afford. My curiosity about what kind of care existed for the city’s less fortunate babies led me to write about the fight against infant mortality in the Dharavi slum for India Ink in September.
But India is larger than the metropolises of Mumbai and Delhi, and the people living in Dharavi are luckier than most. So in digging deeper on the subject of health care, I traveled with a photographer, Sami Siva, to West Bengal, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, visiting hospitals and speaking with caregivers, government officials, patients and academics along the way.
What I found is that the health care that lower-income patients receive is not only problematic on the whole; it can sometimes be outright lethal. In a series that will run through Thursday, I examine the complex issues facing India’s government hospitals and health care in greater detail.