Uttarakhand Stories

New Age Doctors and Health Services in Uttarakhand – An Interview with Dr. Ritu Thapliyal

by Pragati Chauhan
Mar 14, 2016

While the government is trying to improve health services in the state some doctors are coming forward for the great cause. One such instance is of Dr. Ritu Thapliyal (MD –Internal Medicine) who is supporting the cause by playing her part. With the motto of providing efficient and cost-effective health services to her state, Dr. Ritu is determined to serve her community and for this, she has started with her own hometown Dehradun.

Dr. Ritu’s first step was providing free health check-ups in Dehradun:

On February 28, 2016, Dr. Ritu took the first step along with Medical Companies and City Chemist store formalized and organized a 5 hour health camp in Dehradun where consultation along with basic health check-ups like blood sugar test, uric acid test, HbA1c( 3 months avg sugar test) were provided free of cost to the residents of Dehradun. She also provided other major health check-ups at subsidized rates. The camp received an awesome response; around 150 people participated and got themselves checked up. With the success of her 1st endeavor, Dr. Ritu is confident to take her beginning to a new level and organize similar health camps in the remote villages of Uttarakhand.

According to her, people living in the villages of Uttarakhand have to travel 3 to 4 hours to get medical help. Visiting a hospital is a one-day affair and because of the far distance and the time involved in travelling, the health check up’s, consultation, many times gets procrastinated resulting in severe health issues.

Her future plans and vision:

In future, Dr. Ritu plans to open a chain of nursing homes in Uttarakhand B/C- Class towns, headquartered at Dehradun, providing basic health solutions especially for women and children health issues at a cost effective proposition.

How her vision will get executed is still a distant dream, but the blueprint for funding, technology usage and awareness is getting incubated. She feels that along with serving her roots this is a great business opportunity, at the bottom of the pyramid. Till the time her vision takes shape her regular practice, free health camps, will be executed with more scale and reach.

To know more about her work and future ambitions, Team eUttaranchal conducted a small interview with her via email:

Where did you attend medical school?

Completed MBBS and then MD in the year 2012 from HIMS- Jolly Grant (Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences). Have been practicing since the year 2012. It’s been four years since now.

How was the experience of people who attended your first health camp?

The proof of the pudding being that so many people attended the health camp. We tried to give a lot of attention to minute details. Also, free check-ups and consultations were given to the patients. Basic Hygiene like proper seating, water, proper S.No system for queue maintenance along with a faster check up time. Peoples were satisfied with the whole procedure and many are coming back for regular check-ups now. We intend to provide the basic services in future for making the visitors feel at ease.

What are the reasons that inspire you to work for Uttarakhand?

First of all, I belong to this place and after becoming a doctor, it’s important for me to make effective utilization of my education to improve, health services for my people. People are in need of health services in Uttarakhand. Having said that it is also a good business opportunity waiting to be unlocked if executed properly

The education system is not good in rural Uttarakhand but so many children aspire to become a doctor. What message do you want to convey to inspire them to achieve their dreams?

Where there is a will there is a way. Children should look up for role models within their village, districts, and state. There are so many success stories of the humble beginning of Uttarakhand people who have made big in life. At least, in Uttarakhand parents take the onus of educating their children by sending them to schools and colleges. The government should also come up and play a pivotal role in setting up new medical universities and offer scholarships to the students of Uttarakhand. Apart from becoming Doctors, children should also look into doing vocational courses like Nursing, Pharma the scope for which is also widening and required in Uttarakhand.

What are the basic health issues in Uttarakhand that you have noticed so far?

Blood Pressure, Sugar, Thyroid and Alcoholic Liver Diseases.

In Uttarakhand, most of the doctors are not interested in working in the remote areas. What according to you is the reason behind it?

Lack of proper facilities makes highly qualified doctors disinterested in working in remote locations. Facilities like accommodation, food, recreation, lifestyle get missed by the educated class. The government should look at improving the infrastructure in terms of road, transport, recreation, schools, colleges, Mobile Penetration, Industries in Uttarakhand.

So many health related schemes are released by our govt but most of them go in vain as people are unaware of it. Do you think that our govt takes a step back while promoting such schemes while it is about one of the serious issues of the state i.e. public health?

Distances and tough terrain are the main issues in communication and awareness generation. Starting a campaign/scheme is one thing and executing it successfully is another. The government should focus on implementing the existing schemes rather than announcing new ones. A model can also be launched in which the sarpanch or an elderly woman should become the spokesperson for the village and lend her support to run many awareness campaigns on health related issues. There should be an incentivization on the number of people educated and made aware of. The technology can also play a crucial role in reaching to the masses as the patients residing in the secluded areas of Uttarakhand can be contacted through a single phone call for this free emergency booths should be set up by which people can contact the doctor and seek their advice. The government should utilize the boon of technology and maintain a digital health record to keep a track on the public health and the problems they are dealing with. As we all know that prevention is better than cure so this can help in preventing flu and curing the diseases at an initial stage.

What are the main challenges and solutions for rural health in Uttarakhand?

Challenges: The time taken in travelling is the most crucial challenge that procrastinates the check-ups and regular visits to hospitals. People have to travel 3 to 4 hours from remote areas to get basic medical facilities. Secondly, the cost of treatment for a commoner is very costly. People cannot afford to go to 4/5 star private hospitals to get them treated. Also, many a time superstition takes precedence over logic, and people believe things happen due to their fate.

Solutions :

  • Bringing healthcare at the doorstep of the people. Setting up of Mobile health camps/ hospitals which run 24*7 in the state providing consultation, check-ups and further guidance on treatment and recommendations at an affordable rate.
  • Collaborating with MNC’s/WHO for imparting knowledge on hygiene, personal health care to local residents, villagers.
  • For teenage boys and girls institutionalizing training centres on vocational professions like Nursing, Pharmacy, and other allied medical courses, so that there is manpower surplus of professionals who can be absorbed in local level hospitals and dispensaries.

What are your future goals?

In next 5 to 7 years, I want to establish a chain of my nursing homes or basic health care facilities in the towns and villages of Uttarakhand, headquartered at Dehradun. I also want to educate the local sarpanch bodies or the elderly women of the villages so that basic check-ups like Blood Pressure Check-Up, Sugar Check-Up etc. can be done in the comfort of their home and people can get such basic facilities in the villages only. This will require funds, manpower, technology and proper working and execution as well. Technology and Supply chain will also be a crucial part of it.

Some tips for better health:

Get a yearly health check-up done, adopt proper eating habits, avoid junk food. Exercise regularly to stay fit, take less stress, laugh a lot and take medicines that are only recommended by the doctor or practitioner.

If any NGO/brand/person want to support you in this cause how they can contact/help you?

They can contact me by emailing me at ritughildiyal@gmail.com

P.s: This is a guest article after which our team conducted a small interview with her via email.

If you and your team are working for the betterment of Uttarakhand people, places, culture, history etc. and want to connect with like-minded people, then just mail us about your work. We’ll publish it on our website and Facebook page. Our mail Id’s: pragati.deebee@gmail.com and manoj@eutn.in

Pragati Chauhan

A writer by profession, thinker by choice and a nature lover since birth. I have always loved expressing myself through words, I believe words have a certain kind of melody which can be understood by anybody.

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One Response

Prachi Agarwal Says

I am a member of UNNAT BHARAT ABHIYAN, IIT Roorkee and wanna organise a health camp in a village. I mailed Dr. Ritu Thapliyal but didn’t get reply from her. Is there any other way of contacting her??