A little dramatic, yes, but let me just say that today we got to see some of the best and worst of India’s roadways.
Before I jump into the medical part of this post let me share a little bit of our India adventure with you. To set the stage, Priyal, Manish (Priyal’s cousin) and I have been exploring the Himalayan town of Manali for the past three days. We left today on a 10-hour trek to a hillside town called Shimla. If the roads were straight and not as rocky, the trip may have taken about four hours, but alas, the twists, turns, dirt road and fearless cows stretched the trip out terribly long. None of this caused us to wish we had better life insurance, however, it was the constant battle between good and evil a.k.a. our car coming onto oncoming traffic. The constant honking, accelerations, and abrupt stops made me question whether my nausea was from the chai and fried curried snacks or the rollercoaster-like ride. Many times the passes that our driver made left us swerving in between the oncoming cars with what felt like millimeters to spare.
By the end of the trip the road mile markers started to look like miniature gravestones and I held my head in my hands to try and stop the headache and nausea. Luckily, our first stop in Shimla was peaceful and overlooked one of the highest points of the city. We had to take a busy elevator to the road where the overlook was, so our driver pulled into a spot on the side of the road and we jumped out like we were apart of a secret agent movie—darting cars to cross the street and squeeze into a small elevator packed with people. As the doors closed the noise of the busy street faded and a soft soothing sound resonated in the small space. Yes, even in India, Kenny G fills the elevators with his saxophone melodies. The rest of the trip slowed down after this, maybe in part thanks to Kenny G, but probably because of the majestic views of the Himalayas from the top. Either way, the end of the craziness was peaceful and we were able to survive yet another adventure.
While we were gripping on for dear life during the trek Priyal and I noticed the children in their uniforms and oversized backpacks heading to school in almost all of the towns, even in the most rural areas. We began discussing the importance that education plays into not only a society’s health, but also the individual’s health.
It is been shown that this relationship is stronger in younger years—emphasizing the importance in taking action for even the smallest of our little, big fighters. Cutler and Lleras-Mumey explained that the reason for this effect is threefold:
- Poor health leads to poor schooling: if a child is ill, malnourished or frequently needs to be out of school for health reasons their education suffers and this has the potential of becoming an unfortunate cycle of a child’s missed education—including health education.
- Increasing education, increases health: The more knowledge and experience gained from schooling will help the child make better health choices. There are many complicating factors to this point, but for simplicity’s sake I won’t dive into them now.
- Other associated factors such a family’s socioeconomic background has a major effect on access to education and health resources. More monetary resources may allow the family to ensure a child has appropriate health care and long-term education.
These points have many different caveats, but they can help guide both our educational and health policies. We can’t be pigeonholed into focusing solely on just education or health care. For some children the crux of the problem may be in their ability to concentrate during school because of their mound nutrition. While others may not have access to quality education or forced to leave their schooling early.
Check out this video for Footpath School, which tells an amazing way that one person started to make a difference regarding children’s education. Many children unfortunately face a double-sided problem.
In short, there are so many different avenues to help ensure that children are getting both a good education and adequate health care. However, we should continuously fight for these crucially important pieces in our little, big fighters’ lives!