Active Stocks
Thu Sep 28 2023 15:59:12
  1. Tata Steel share price
  2. 126.75 -1.09%
  1. NTPC share price
  2. 237.8 -0.65%
  1. Power Grid Corporation Of India share price
  2. 200.75 0.73%
  1. Tata Motors share price
  2. 613.95 -1.04%
  1. HDFC Bank share price
  2. 1,522.95 -0.28%
Business News/ News / India/  How caste affects public health services

How caste affects public health services

Differential treatment of patients based on caste by rural public health practitioners is often normalized, shows a study

(Photo: Mint)Premium
(Photo: Mint)

India is investing significantly into providing universal health services to its citizens but a new study suggests that these services may be far from equitable. Sobin George, in a study published in the Economic and Political Weekly, explores how caste impacts the interaction between public health service providers and patients. To show this, he conducts a detailed ethnographic study, involving observations at health centres and interviews, in Meenkera village of Bidar district in Karnataka.

The author finds that caste manifests itself formally and informally in the village’s public health system. In terms of infrastructure, caste discrimination is obvious. The village has separate health centres for different social groups with the centres meant for Dalits having poor facilities. Most health officials in the village are also not Dalits.

On the other hand, caste discrimination in medical interactions is more subtle. For instance, doctors and nurses would refrain from touching a Dalit patient during diagnosis, display indifferent and offensive behaviour and interrupt them while speaking. In contrast, non-Dalit patients are treated more cordially and allotted more consultation time.

Surprisingly, most Dalit patients normalized the discriminatory behaviour of service providers and did not attribute it to caste differences. This is despite a strong sense of Dalit consciousness in the village with 36% of the households belonging to the community.

According to George, Dalit patients often attribute these attitudes to the paternalistic medical practice where the doctors have superior knowledge. They also consider the poor public health infrastructure as normal due to corruption and poor management.

The author argues that caste-based differential treatment of patients is often indiscernible and, thus, is paid less attention. But it needs more attention because it hampers equitable health services and puts patients at risk.

Also read: Reconciliations of Caste and Medical Power in Rural Public Health Services

Snap Fact features new and interesting reads from the world of research

"Exciting news! Mint is now on WhatsApp Channels 🚀 Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest financial insights!" Click here!

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Updated: 09 Oct 2019, 02:01 PM IST
Next Story
Recommended For You
Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App