Episode 96: The View From Wardha, Now

Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Two nights a week on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this one — how is the pandemic playing out in India’s hinterland?

It’s Day 228 of the novel coronavirus epidemic in India and we are reporting 4,845,003 cases with 79,754 deaths. Earlier this year, I interviewed Dr SP Kalantri, who is the Medical Superintendent at Kasturba Hospital & Professor of Medicine for over 30 years at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Wardha, which is in eastern Maharashtra’s deprived and rural region of Vidarbha. At that time, Wardha, like the rest of rural India, had seen only a handful of cases, and we talked about what it was like waiting and watching in Wardha as the pandemic unfolded in big cities.

Last week, I called him to talk again, and it’s really eye-opening how far the virus has travelled. As before, talking to Dr Kalantri offered an incredible insight into what it’s like running a hospital with covid patients in rural India right now.

A few months from now, I wonder what it’s going to be like to talk to Dr Kalantri again. Cases will undoubtedly have grown in Wardha, but will patients be getting detected earlier? Will he have managed to continue lifting the health and morale of his doctors and nurses? What is the new burden of people with chronic conditions going to be like? That conversation, a few months from now.

I’m incredibly grateful to Dr Kalantri for taking the time to talk to me. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. On the next episode — a new question.

I am a data journalist based in Chennai, India.

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