Tuesday, 19 June 2018

On my Skin

On my Skin

She opened the door of the health unit almost sensing something that morning. In the Rural Health Unit, about 100 kilometers away from the nearest reference center. A newly appointed doctor....and the farmers of the region saw in those hands a ray of hope. "The doctor listens to us."

Maybe this was the beginning of a cry about the future on her face. When she was in the office with another patient, somebody knocked the door, "Doctor, please come fast". The nurse was already gloved, a woman in great pain, laboir pain. Upon touching down the cervix, it was 5cm dilated. Fetal heartbeat flickering and Ineffective contractions.

Labor without progression was sensed. Oxytocin, orientations, everyone entering the small emergency room. Got everyone out of there to take a deep breath and called the 911.

"The ambulance can only get there in two hours, it is in another displacement." The calculation was not difficult... Two hours to come plus two hours to cover the 100km made 4 long hours. Can we handle it? Will the baby be born before that? We ask for priority, but the whole state needs priority.

Deep breathing, medications, salines, change of position, but still it is only 6cm of dilation in the first hour. The Fetal Heart Beat slowed down. They call the ambulance. "I need it for now." It doesn't arrive.

It did not come, it did not happen, it did not progress and it was not born.

Some colleagues would say, "it is her fault that she chose to work where she has no recourse". But is there a way to have a hospital in the countryside? To have an anesthetist team in the middle of the green of the corn? To have a team with obstetrician? Pediatrician? There, where the soy is planted?

Several will condemn "it is the doctor's fault, who went there," but would the unborn child stop herself being born or would the mother stop going into labor because they were in the countryside? Would the countryside stop existing just because there are no qualified professionals in it?

The baby was not born, the baby did not survive. Everyone hears the fetal heartbeat fade away without recourse, no training, no legislation, no doctor adequately trained for more than 60% of Brazil's population living in rural areas. While the ambulance did not arrive, a sigh, a tear.... A fatality? Could we have avoided this?

From birth to mourning. To err is human, to kill and to die is human too. But a doctor in the rural area without training is inhumane.

Warm regards,
Mayara Floss
Review by: Nisanth Menon
Translated into English by: Bianca Silveira
Posted and Edited by: Ana Júlia Araújo

Mayara Floss is a young doctor working in a rural area: Cunha Porã (SC), Brazil. She Co-creator of project 'Health Education League'.  She is the creator of the Rural Family Medicine Café to provide a forum to discuss Rural Health – a forum for students, young doctors and experienced professors and GPs from all world. She is the student representative of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice. She also co-created with Pratyush Kumar the project 'Rural Health Success Stories' and writes a weekly blog of Popular Education, Arts and Health - the Ferry Street of 10.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Amber Wheatley and Mayara Floss

The experimental short movie produced by Mayara Floss and Amber Wheatley called "Ruralices" received the award for best original background at the FISFA - International Short Film & Arts Festival during the 15th WONCA World Rural Health Conference, New Delhi with voice of Amber Wheatley and the music of Lucio Yanel and sonoplasty by Mayara Floss.

"My first job as a junior doctor in South West Wales involves a 1 hr and 15 min journey by bus from my apartment in the city centre to the hospital in Llanelli. My colleaguess often commented on how difficult it must be because the public transport in Wales, particularly the most western you go, is notorious for having problems. Make no mistake this is absolutely true but it also provided me with two unique opportunities; 1) I took the same bus as the people living in the community so I understood all too well the issues of getting to hospital when you relied on public transport and 2) I got to watch the sunrise every morning as I moved from an urban setting to a suburban setting. During my commute I had more time than at any other point in the day to be alone with my thoughts and take it what was going on around me. I also used this time to catch up on reading, writing and social media. Before medical school I wrote songs and poetry in my spare time but medical school seemed to kill all my creativity. I was slowly starting to reclaim it when one day looking at a photo from the Ruralices instagram page, I was overcome with inspiration. Dr Mayara Floss started the Ruralices page to capture and share images of the daily life of a rural doctor. Each of the pictures I knew held a story and that story inspired these poems". - Amber Wheatley

Amber and Mayara are Young Doctors and ambassador of Rural Seeds. They are committed and passionate about rural health, arts and writing. 

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Healthcare in Kerala : My observation

....having stayed in kerala during my graduation , I found Kerala to be a society full of paradoxes, rather hypocritical to an extent.

Whereas on the one hand you have the best literacy rates and the wow health standards at par with the developed world, on the other you have almost near zero entrepreneurial ventures no industry very limited opportunities of employment outside the government .

One of the highest suicide rates in the country and almost all families have an earning member overseas/outside kerala sending in the dough.

On the one hand female literacy rates are the highest in the country on the other ladies venturing outside their home after sundown were looked down upon,

On the one hand you have the matriarchial society on the other hand ladies are not allowed in the sabrimala temple ( a place of worship in Kerala)

Whereas on the one hand you will not find any coolies on the railway stations but a good chunk are manual labourers in the society.

Whereas you will find them to be admitting to be less than willing to do anything yet their professionalism specially in healthcare is beyond compare, their dedication , zeal and commitment unparalleled.

Health standards were achieved in my opinion because of exemplary societal acceptance of the role of the ladies in the healthcare field specially in the domain of Nursing and teaching.

Whereas men folk ventured to search for employment opportunities beyond Kerala, i.e in the Gulf, America, Europe, or even in other indian states,the women folk continued to manage the native front and ensured education and good healthcare to their children.

As a result even though the governmental expenditure on health was trivial, the out of pocket healthcare was flourishing.

Nothing succeeds like success! once they had carved out a place for their state in the health standard arena they took upon themselves on a war footing as a matter of immense pride to keep it that way and once achieved the government too started to patronise the healthcare in a bigger manner.

If you have travelled through Kerala you would realise that it is an urban village from the northern most district (Kasarkode) to the southern border (Thiruvananathapuram)with almost universally similar facilities all over.

This was probably due to a paradigmal shift by the policy makers regarding resource allocation to local governing bodies called panchayats around 1996, where almost 40 percent of the states available funds were at the disposal of these local bodies for capacity building and development, as per local needs.

Open door policy viz for education in english and hindi ensured education to kids that was utilisable beyond kerala, at the same time not letting go their tradtional cultural traditions i.e mohiniattam, kathakkali, and their gaanamelas,

Notwithstanding what the world said they continued to use coconut oil for cooking relying on their cultural wisdom,only now the entire world is marketing virgin coconut oil for cooking and as cure for some forms of dementia.

Coconut,coffee,cardamom and rubber which were their cash crops peculiar to the weather there continued to attaract world attention because despite all the mechanisation most of these crops continued to be grown traditionally and had their quality and genepool maintained.

Traditionally they eat parboiled rice which is now emerging as a recommendation for diabetics.

With the IT revolution the beauty of kerala became popular and Kerala an important destination for medical tourism specially for the Maldivians and the Lankans. like begets like !! once the dollars started trickling in the industry veterans pumped in even more to ensure world standards.

So,what probably started as a mundane chore of life evolved as the feather in the cap of the nation leave alone Kerala .


Dr Hemant Saluja

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Strong determination is half battle won

It gives me immense pleasure to share my feelings from a few days ago. Being born as a girl and growing into women is so challenging. Also nature and almighty gave boon to becoming a mother; most prestigious designation! But the journey is not easy.

Menarche is a very sensitive turning point in every girl's life. I happened to visit a rural area few days ago and with the help of an NGO we conducted a health checkup camp specially for girls and women from ages 8 - 60 years. We started from younger girls and tried to talk in most simple form so that they could feel free to express themselves.

Besides general health problems, most had issues associated with menstrual cycle. To our surprise, majority were not using sanitary napkins, but using clothes! It gave rise to health issues they felt ashamed to discuss.

During camp we showed short animation movies about adolescent health as mass media has better impact. These girls and women were convinced that spending little on sanitary napkins will help in contributing towards positive health. We tried to inculcate in their mind that along with spending on clothes and jewelry, they should save little to be spent on sanitary napkin. They all promised to do so from coming months.

Also elderly ladies complained of anemia and general ill health like backache, hypothyroidism and diabetes. They were advised regular health checkups at district hospital and to take medicines on regular basis.

Many women gave history of very early hysterectomy. This is a practice I have noticed very often in peripheral area when poor women undergo hysterectomy at early age for trivial issues because they lack proper health education and are forced to undergo hysterectomy by wrong professionals. They are thus exposed to osteoporosis and other hormonal imbalances for the life time.

The camp concluded with the message of using sanitary napkins on regular basis, regular health checkups and sharing health issues with community workers for betterment of women’s health; also plans to start a small scale industry for sanitary napkins at a cost which community can afford.

All endeavours need lots of planning, capital and proper implementation. But as said "strong determination is half battle won". Look forward to contribute to womanhood in most positive way. Proud to be a women..Proud to be a mother!

Dr. Sonia

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Rural Family Doctor

Mayara Floss

Taking care of the patients in the countryside was my way of coming back to rural. I planted tobacco when I was young and today I try to support patients  to stop smoking.

Brazilian South, Jul / 17

Sunday, 24 September 2017

The children raising children

When it comes to rural medical practice in Uganda, one of the things that fascinates me is the alarming teenage pregnancies. This leads me to a story of one of my patients who came to the health facility I work in (Kapelebyong health center 4, located eastern rural part of Uganda), a 16 year old girl with her mother in law. (Yes her mother in law, its crazy!!) They came to the facility with the complaint of failure to carry pregnancy, ever since she got married 2 years ago (It means she got married when she was 14 years!!). It had been her 3rd time miscarrying her pregnancy. And this time they decided to come to the hospital for guidance.

When I first saw them I thought it was a mother who had escorted their daughter to hospital for a consultation. But she spoke out and said this girl is failing to conceive. I was very disturbed, It was already running in my mind that this is a child and marital issues should not be in her mind. In fact by what I could see she needed to go to school or she needed to be in school. Her family had already handed her over as a wife to her boyfriend who is also 16 years but he was in school at the moment. (In this rural area boys are usually favoured to continue with their education because in their understanding when a girl marries she joins the other family leaving her old family behind, so any investment in her would be a waste of time!!)   This angered me more because I knew the parents probably made her marry earlier so as to secure a bride price mainly because of the financial situation they have at home.(Poor families are more likely to marry off their daughters earlier to get bride price and this is just so sad!!)

But given the situation it is a rural area in Africa where the community still thinks educating a girl child is useless because she anyway leaves the home and gets married into another home. And marriage comes with a bride price. 

Of course I advised them to come back to the facility the next time they get pregnant. Starting a battle with them and nullifying the marriage was out of my jurisdiction as a medical doctor in a rural area guided by cultural norms.

But this comes to the main issue, many children in the rural area I work in are raising other children. It is sad but I have seen girls as young as 14 years of age getting pregnant. Sometimes the mother and child come to hospital to give birth at the same time. And it becomes worse because by 20 years, most of these girls have given birth to at least 2 children. So you can imagine when they are 30 years of age? In fact by 30 most of the women have at least an average of 8 children!! This is really sad.

Of course as a rural doctor we have started outreach programs to schools encouraging children to remain in school especially girls. But it has come under a lot of pressure and still many girls are also being put under pressure by other girls (their own peers) who already have children of their own. They usually ask questions like, “why are you wasting time? Do you want to spend all your time in school?”

It is a sad situation but the trend is now showing that a young mother is more like to bring the sick child to hospital more often than an older mother.

It is a battle we are fighting quietly. I am really interested to know if this happens in other countries. Any one who can share with me what they are doing to save their rural girls???

Me with some of the rural children of the young mothers on an outreach!



I am Dr. Etonu Joseph, Junior medical doctor from Uganda 29 years of age, I've been practicing for 2 years in a rural area in Uganda in a county called Kapelebyong county. I Started my work when I was 26 years old in the facility. Iam the only doctor there covering the health of 89,000 people. Being a very rural area very few doctors attempted to work there but so far i am the one who has lasted the longest in the facility..The people I serve are the humble indigenous rural people of Karamoja and also Kapelebyong county..I graduated in 2012 at the University of St. Petersburg Pavlov,the Russian Federation. But i started working in this rural area in late 2014. I ride a motorcycle to work because the roads are soo bad in the rains that sometimes it rains on me! BUT I LOVE MY WORK and I have learnt a lot from the people I serve.

Sunday, 10 September 2017


Fábio Schwalm

Home visit in the late afternoon
Hi Dona Ana, how is going the hemodialysis
She responds:
Well, at first it was difficult, I had a bad time ... now I'm fine ... I spend the four hours praying
while I pray
And eating?
Better now I can eat more
And how can we help?
She hold a list in her hands:
What is Damascus?


Fábio Schwalm is a Brazilian rural family physician. He works in Brazilian South in a city called Barão. He is learning to write and grew in a rural area working in the smoke farm.