Aditi Khatri, Class of 2011

Major: Biology and Science in Society; Organization: Devi Punj Dental Clinic; Location: Vadodara, India

Aditi Khatri, Class of 2011Although I had been to India before, this summer’s trip to Vadodara opened my eyes to the disparities that lie beyond our borders. I shadowed a dentist at Devi Punj Dental Clinics. One clinic was located in a posh area while the other was located in an impoverished area. The facilities, treatment charges and the patients were like night and day between the two clinics.

Along with shadowing a dentist I conducted an independent research study on the health care system of India. Through the administration surveys the major players in India’s health care system and their impact on the success and failures of the system were identified. 102 volunteer patients at hospitals in the three major cities of Gujarat were surveyed. The data showed that the patients had an understanding of the differences between the cost, treatment and facilities of the hospitals and clinics in their area. Generally, the patients had a good understanding of proper hygiene and eating habits. However, the patients had a lack of understanding of the importance of dental care. 85% of the patients surveyed did not visit a dentist regularly. When asked why, half said they did not need to go and the other half said there was nothing wrong with their teeth.

The results of my survey were consistent with the severity in oral problems the patients in the Devi Punj Clinics had. Patients of all ages had rotting teeth and needed immediate root canal therapy or extraction. People only visited the dentist when they were in pain. If the patients had made regular visits to the dentist, they may not have had such severe problems. After seeing this, I felt it was important for me to educate the youth of the area. I visited a private K-12 school in the city of Vadodara, India. There I educated the students on the importance of proper oral hygiene and visiting the dentist regularly.

Overall, I feel I had a well rounded experience in India. I enjoyed my time there and I got more out of the experience than I had expected. At the end of my eight weeks there I didn’t want to leave.

About the photo: shows the contrast between a private hospital (top) and a public hospital (bottom). These pictures were taken while I was visiting hospitals to survey patients.