In rural India, children receive wrong treatments for deadly ailments
MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 17
Rural India has many ‘fake’ doctors who provide wrong treatment for childhood diarrhea and pneumonia, the two leading killers of young children worldwide.This is the summation of a study done in Bihar by Duke University and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The study titled “The Know-Do Gap in Quality of Health Care for Childhood Diarrhea and Pneumonia in Rural India” – found that 80% of ‘doctors’ they interviewed didn’t have a formal medical degree. Worse, most of them didn’t prescribe life-saving treatments such as oral rehydration salts (ORS).The so-called doctors in rural India prescribe unnecessary antibiotics or other potentially harmful drugs, said Manoj Mohanan, the lead author of the study. Diarrhea and pneumonia accounted for 24 % of deaths among children 1 to 4 years old, totaling approximately 2 million deaths worldwide in 2011. Bihar has India’s highest infant mortality rate of 55 per 1000 live births.
A press release sent by the university said, “Our researchers conducted “vignette” interviews with providers to assess how they would diagnose and treat a hypothetical case. Later, standardized patients – individuals who portrayed patients presenting the same symptoms as in the interviews – made unannounced visits. This strategy enabled researchers to measure the gap between what providers know and what they actually do – the “know-do” gap.”
For diarrhea, 72 % of providers reported they would prescribe oral rehydration salts- a life-saving, low-cost and readily available intervention – but only 17 % actually did so. Those who did prescribe ORS also added other unnecessary or harmful drugs.
The study couldn’t concretely conclude why patients are not being prescribed the right medicines despite the healthcare provider having knowledge about it. Mohanan has been quoted as saying, “Our evidence on the gap between knowledge and practice suggests that training alone will be insufficient. We need to understand what incentives cause providers to diverge from proper diagnosis and treatment.”