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After my MBBS graduation, I have spent majority of my time working in rural and remote communities of Punjab, India. My real love for rural and remote general practice began in the year 2006, when I got my first government rural physician posting in a small rural village of approximately 1200 population. Since then, my attachment with rural general practice has intensified manifold.
After 2006 beginnings, I have served in many rural and remote villages of Punjab, India as a rural family physician. I served as a replacement physician for a few months at remote village known as Bambiha in Punjab, India. Here I realised how much health-related work can be done by a rural family physician with minimum financial support by the government. While serving at various rural health centres, I was fascinated the innocence, ever uplifted morale and helping nature of rural people as well as by the sheer beauty of rural landscape and pristine nature.
I enjoyed tremendous respect amongst my rural patients. Sometimes, when the stock of government-funded medicines was dwindling, rural communities came forward to purchase medicines for rural health centre by pooling in common village resources. It really moved my conscience and inspired me to do more for the rural communities beyond my normal duty hours. Sometimes, old and debilitated patients could not come to the rural health centre, then I used to visit patients at their homes. This voluntary gesture was well appreciated by the villagers.
At Dhurkot Kalan village, my health center shared premises with the local church. The villagers felt proud to invite me to their monthly religious congregations at the church. Many a times when patients came to pay their obeisance at the place of worship, they used to visit my clinic for various ailments. It helped me integrate their physical, mental, social and spiritual health into a holistic approach. I was treating not only organ or system specific ailments, but also individuals as a whole.
At Dhurkot Kalan and other health centres, we worked very effectively in a team of rural family physician, multipurpose health worker (MPHW), pharmacist and a helper. I lead the rural health teams in implementing various national health programs as well as delivering the primary care, with active guidance and assistance from senior health officials at the district level.
During pulse polio campaigns, sometimes it was difficult to bring the under 5 children to polio vaccination booth at rural health center as rural parents feared that polio vaccine can cause polio. So in order to address this unfounded fear, I formed small health teams in the village, which will go door-to door to convince the rural population that the benefits of polio vaccine far outweigh its side effects, if any. And, I used to request the village church priest to announce the benefits of polio vaccination on church loudspeaker and request the rural parents to bring under 5 years kids to polio vaccination booths. Due to the effective co-ordination between rural health center, polio vaccination teams and the village communities, this pulse polio vaccination was a huge success and not even a single polio case was reported from villages falling under the jurisdiction of my health centers.
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