A personal experience can often turn itself into an opportunity to touch lives. For Indus Health Plus’ Director, Kanchan Naikawadi, her father’s untimely death was one shock that made her realise the loopholes in societal thinking and the Indian healthcare system.
“On one hand I had my month-old baby and on the other I was dealing with my father’s sudden passing away. He had stage four cancer and we had no idea,” says Kanchan. She talks about how at this point in time she had never thought about preventive healthcare or the fact that an early detection could’ve saved her father.
To be able to deal with loss can often be a daunting process. Especially when everyone visiting to give their condolences ask questions about the departed soul and the circumstances under which they passed away.
“It was difficult for me to digest that we didn’t go for a simple check-up to identify the root cause in my father’s case. And people kept asking how the family didn’t realise that it was cancer all along. This is where I realised that there would be so many like me who are unaware about preventive healthcare in general,” says Kanchan.
As a country, India is yet to dwell into preventive healthcare schemes. Emphasis on high-end surgeries, doctors, hospitals often overtakes what can be prevented in its initial stages before lakhs of money is spent to rectify it. Kanchan reiterates that for this to change, awareness for mothers needs to be multiplied.
“Women can make or break a house. If a woman believes in health today, you can imagine what a healthy family it would be. Right from deciding what oil comes in the house or what exercise is better, women have the controlling hand. When the woman of the house is educated about something, she is the first one to implement it in the family,” says Kanchan.
Kanchan has inculcated the same in her daughters, who she says are so used to getting regular check-ups done that no one questions why these tests need to be done in the first place.
But maintaining work-life balance is a task for the female workforce. Even though equality is talk of the town, as a nation we are far away from practising it. With the added responsibility of home, children, earning money, aspects such as quality work and personal healthcare can take a back seat.
To counter this, Kanchan talks about how a support system is much needed for women like herself to move forward. But this support system needs to be asked for, it won’t form on its own. “You’re not weak by asking for help if you’re busy with work. I ask my partner to go home and see the kids if I’m stuck in a meeting. Or I’ll ask my mother to come down and stay if I’m travelling for work.”
At the office, when there is a task at hand, there’s no gender. And directors like herself believe that if work needs to be finished, she is not going to look at it with a woman’s eyes. “Work is work. Whether I am a man or a woman will not determine whether it can be completed or not,” she says.
Being in the business for over two decades now, Kanchan talks passionately about how preventive healthcare is yet to reach its full potential. She says that the gap of awareness between a client and a patient is what the industry wishes to fulfil.
“In the next five years, I wish that these premium healthcare services reach the rural sectors as well. These areas lack good hospitals, clinics, and services that can detect even unheard of diseases. Thanks to technology, we might be able to achieve this faster,” she says.
As basic as a gene test can determine what your body carries from your ancestors. And this is useful to understand to take better care of yourself. Women, especially, benefit from this to battle the traumas caused by unsuccessful weight loss regimes. The cause of which could be obesity.
“I know what my body is like and have made peace with it. The acceptance needs to come from yourself before anyone else,” says Kanchan. Certainly, more women can then finally appreciate what they have and not question themselves on what the society tells them.
The message that she would like to give to women aspiring to be in her position is to be passionate. “Whatever industry you choose, be passionate about your job and you will reach the top one day.”