One man’s quest to train India’s many quack doctors
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Squatting on their haunches among fruit trees and orange marigolds, barefoot villagers wait in the morning chill to see Dr. Pijus Sarkar, the only full-time physician in this remote part of West Bengal.
Many have traveled far, often by foot on pot-holed dirt roads that turn into mud rivers during the rainy season. They come because their local health provider — an alternative healer or one with no training at all — failed to help them, or even made them worse.
Their story illustrates perhaps the biggest health challenge facing the world’s largest democracy as it struggles to develop a modern identity: With most people still living in rural areas, and most doctors in cities, hundreds of millions of villagers end up gambling their health by seeing unqualified providers.