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India Calling: NRI Doctors respond to rural India’s distress


AAPI_Leaders_AT_Yale_University_ YSR__-R-2014-09-24(1)

By Meghna


The rural health care in India has always been in a sorry state. The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) did four studies  in rural Alamarathupatti, Samiyarpatti and Pillayar Natham in the state of Tamil Nadu and another in the village of Karakhadi, in the state of Gujarat some years ago, and found that not only were the people living in rural areas ignorant about common lifestyle disorders like diabetes and hypertension, but they were also deprived of access to quality health care and knowledge of basic sanitation practices.

AAPI, essentially a body of Indian doctors settled in the US started the project ‘SEVAK’ in 2010 on a pilot basis in Karakhadi village, and over the years, it’s reported that it has covered all villages within the 26 districts of the state.

Dubbed as an extremely successful rural health care model, SEVAK is the brainchild of Dr. Thakor Patel, AAPI member and a specialist in nephrology and internal medicine. The concept of SEVAK is based on the Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) in the US Navy. Dr. Thakor Patel was associated with the US Navy for 23 years and during this period he has also served as the director of IDC.

The IDCs are high school graduates who undergo a training of one year during which they are trained in providing primary health care to Marine Corps units or Navy Ships. In addition to this, they are also responsible for managing disasters, ensuring preventive care of sailors along with conducting environmental checks such as humidity, temperature and sanitation.

The sevaks are responsible for providing holistic healthcare to their respective villages.

“The design of this project was based on one person per village per district of Gujarat for a total of 26 individuals — that is sevaks. Upon selection, these individuals underwent health training in Vadodara,” Dr. Patel said. Following this, they were sent back to their villages to discharge their duties.

The project is looking at a possible expansion into 100 villages. The project was started in Gujarat with the support of the state government and Local partners like the Bharatiya Seva Samaj (which is overseeing the project), and the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara.


A person should have at least passed 12th standard in order to become a sevak. A Sevak should be a permanent resident of his/her village. Women who will remain in their villages for a long period are eligible to become a sevak.

A sevak is responsible for the complete basic health care of his/her village. This includes conducting basic health checkups and screening of diseases like diabetes and hypertension. They will also be responsible for monitoring high-risk population for various diseases and patients with chronic disease who are on treatment.

Not just this, but the task of educating the village people about healthy lifestyle and preventive care is also to be dispensed by the sevak.

Sevaks are an important link in the chain of healthcare. They connect the rural folk to the health care experts.

“Special cases are referred to city hospitals and in some cases sevaks accompany the patient. The cost is borne by the project,” explains Dr. Patel.

One of the benchmarks by which the performance of the sevaks is measured is the sanitation of the villages. One of the variables is the number of toilets in the villages and since the inception of the project, the number of toilets in the sevak villages have increased.

Monitoring the Sevak project

“The state of Gujarat was divided into four zones: North, south, central and west, with a coordinator for each. The base education requirement for the coordinator was a bachelor’s degree. As the coordinator their job is to go to each village once a month and go over the work done by the local sevak, collect the data in an excel file, and email it to me. The data is then sent to Dr. Ranjita Misra*, who compiles the information into statistics. In addition, Dr. Padmini Balagopal* creates the lifestyle modification education program for the sevak,” Dr. Patel explains.

After the success of the first leg of Sevak project in Gujarat, the AAPI in collaboration with Dr Rahul Jindal, a transplant surgeon in Washington, New York-based philanthropist, George Subraj have launched the programme in rural areas of Guyana also.


To develop in cohesion, as a nation, we need to cater to the rural population more. The rural-urban dichotomy is a serious issue and steps need to be undertaken to bring the rural India at par with its urban counterpart. Sevak project is an initiative which attempts to take steps towards this issue. More projects on similar lines need to be brought about to revolutionize Indian society.


(* both the doctors are members of the AAPI)


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Facebook, YouTube dominate social media use in US

A majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook

Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook employees 'secret police' to catch information leakers. Pixabay
  • Facebook and Youtube are most popular apps in the US
  • The apps are particularly very popular among youngsters
  • Other popular apps are LinkedIn, Snapchat, WhatsApp etc.

When it comes to social media penetration in daily life, a majority of Americans are hooked on Facebook and YouTube but millennials prefer photo-sharing platforms Snapchat and Instagram, a new survey has revealed.

mobile apps that all women should have
Youngsters use a lots of app these days. Wikimedia Commons

According to the Pew Research Centre, 68 percent of all Americans use Facebook and three-quarters of that access the social media platform on a daily basis.

Nearly 74 percent of adults use YouTube and 94 percent of young users visit YouTube on their computers or smartphones.

Also Read: Apple takes the op spot in global wearables market

With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.

“Younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71 percent) visit the platform multiple times per day,” the findings showed.

YouTube is another most popular app in the US. Pixabay
YouTube is another most popular app in the US. Pixabay

Similarly, 71 percent of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45 percent) are Twitter users, the survey noted.

“These findings also highlight the public’s sometimes conflicting attitudes toward social media. For example, the share of social media users who say these platforms would be hard to give up has increased by 12 percentage points compared with a survey conducted in early 2014, the Pew Research Centre said.

Also Read: Google launches three new apps for photography

By the same token, a majority of users (59 percent) say it would not be hard to stop using these sites, including 29 percent who say it would not be hard at all to give up social media.

Some 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds indicated that they use any form of social media. That share falls to 78 percent among those ages 30 to 49, to 64 percent among those ages 50 to 64 and to 37 percent among Americans 65 and older.

Pinterest remains substantially more popular with women — 41 percent — than men (16 percent). LinkedIn remains especially popular among college graduates and those in high-income households.

WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps in Latin America.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps in Latin America.

“Some 50 percent of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just 9 percent of those with a high school diploma or less,” the survey said.

The messaging service WhatsApp is popular in Latin America, and this popularity also extends to Latinos in the US – 49 percent of Hispanics report that they are WhatsApp users, compared with 14 percent of whites and 21 percent of blacks. IANS