This volume has articles contributed by health researchers, practitioners, policy advocates, programme managers and a journalist, and poems by renowned poet–physician Gieve Patel. Each presents a distinctive view of a particular group of frontline health providers, based on field research or on the authors’ respective experiences of working with or as providers. The health providers addressed in this volume include doctors (working in the public and private sectors), nurses, public health workers, counsellors, traditional practitioners and homecare providers.
Different groups of health providers face struggles at diverse frontiers — social, professional and systemic. In the context of reforming health systems, government health workers must constantly negotiate the vagaries of changing working environments and policy vacillations. For traditional and homecare providers, formal health systems and structures often only reject and exclude their contributions. Medical doctors, conversely, face difficult challenges of introspection, as they tread the line between personal gain and public service.
The ideas and themes that emerge in this collection not only contribute to the understanding of providers’ roles as actors in the health systems and societies of contemporary India, but re-examines preconceptions about this critical occupational group. This volume advances the case for a deeper appreciation of India’s complex landscape of healthcare provision, and of the potential roles of frontline health providers as central figures in development.
Kabir Sheikh is Senior Lecturer, Public Health Foundation of India, Delhi.
Asha George is Health Specialist, Community Based Approaches, Policy and Evidence Unit, Health Section, Programme Division, UNICEF, New York.