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Health, medicine and the city @ Do Din 2016

Cities have historically been centres of advanced medical care. One of the first establishments set up in Hyderabad when it was founded four centuries ago was Dar Ul Shifa – the gateway to health and wellbeing. And the origins of townplanning as professional practice are deeply rooted in the medical and public health practices.

Darulshifa, the oldest healing centre in Hyderabad (Image from Wikicommons)

As part of our work on urban poverty, one of the things we have been concerned about is how households cope with illness – whether one time catastrophic illness which can often throw families into long time debt traps or persistent, niggling ailments which lead to lower energy levels, intra-household conflicts and depreciated earnings.Public infrastructure for primary and secondary healthcare has pretty much disappeared and the general urban environment is saturated with a variety of health hazards. In these circumstances, local community resources to create knowledge about health and wellbeing is critical. Recognizing this, at Do Din, we have three events focused entirely on health and the city.

On December 22nd, a day before Do Din 2016, between 2pm and 5pm, Dr.  Anita Patil, director of PUKAR, Mumbai, will lead a workshop. The workshop will be held on the second floor of Gulshan E Khaleel Complex, the same building where Hyderabad Urban Lab is located. While women active in neighbourhood level communities  will gain in skills and understanding the workshop is also open to others interested in community health issues. Dr Patil brings decades of experience in community health research and training to run a workshop designed to help women learn skills to think about health beyond the personal and household level. In the workshop, the participants will identify health issues that need attention in their own immediate communities and learn skills to carry out research to find remedies.

On December 23rd, Dr. Anita Patil will also make a presentation on the fabulous work Pukar has been doing in Mumbai in training barefoot researchers with a particular focus on health related issues. She will be sharing her work as a health researcher. This talk will be aimed more specifically towards individuals and organizations interested in community health issues and in democratizing research both from an academic and from practice points of view.

On December 24th, Dr. Subhadra Jalali, a senior Opthalmic surgeon at LV Prasad Eye Institute will be speaking on vision and the city, with a special focus on infants and vision impairment. Over the past few years, she has been working with focused attention on the challenges of opthalmic care for premature babies. Our decision to bring to Do Din, a speaker from such a specialised field as opthalmic surgery is in large part driven by our realization that the relationship between medical practitioners and patients is one of the least understood in the public sphere. We have been engaged for some time in conversations with doctors on questions relating to how they take complex decisions, how patients and their emotional contexts matter to the process of healing and recovery and the emotional burden that doctors themselves experience in the course of their work. Who can illuminate these aspects of the doctor patient relationship than a dedicated practitioner like Dr. Subhadra Jalali ?