A teenager who hopes to pursue a career in medicine has completed an eye-opening two-week placement in India.
Elizaveta Tamarova, of Orchard View, Douglas, signed up with global volunteering organisation Projects Abroad to gain work experience and experience an entirely different way of life.
Elizaveta, aged 17, a King William’s College student, said: ‘I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to visit a developing country and to be pleasantly surprised by the quality of care in private hospitals, but also to see the other end of the spectrum.’
She described the Indian medical system as ‘a nifty mix of social insurance, other insurance policies and out-of-pocket spending’.
‘It was so strange to think that a large proportion of the doctors came into the medical profession due to the heavy influence of their parents and that their choice of speciality was limited by their rank in their final exams.’
She started in private tertiary health care hospitals with a wide variety of super-specialities. There consultants were willing to educate the volunteers and show them a range of procedures.
On her first day she witnessed open heart surgery and she also saw a caesarean section, a spinal decompression, and an angioplasty performed. She was also talked through patients’ cases during rounds of the intensive care units such as cardio-thoracic and neo-natal.’
Her most eye-opening experience was when she visited a village made up of impoverished families.
‘A physician, dentist, pharmacist and nutritionalist were set up in a rather small and very hot room of a local orphanage, where those who can’t afford healthcare were welcome to talk to the volunteer professionals,’ she said.
‘The room was quickly full of the locals and as I observed the physician’s encounters with the patients I realised that near nothing could be done to help these patients.
‘Without financial stability, no further investigations could take place which meant pain complaints triggered only the prescription of painkillers from the pharmacist’s box.
‘The physician explained that at least those in pain could feel like they have received something to help them, even if the problem has not been in any way resolved.’
She stayed with other volunteers at an Ashram which she described as beautifully maintained, clean and almost entirely self-sustained.
The residents live there for free, all having a role within the Ashram community where a yoga lifestyle is encouraged and central values include collective meditation.
Its facilities included two schools, gardens and facilities for apprenticeship courses for students from underprivileged backgrounds.
During the trip she also visited monuments including the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Delhi Lotus temple.