THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS VOICES BUFFET MAGAZINE PUSHPESH PANT GAUTAM CHINTAMANI RAVI SHANKAR VIKRAMJIT SINGH ROOPRAI HORY SANKAR MUKERJEE SADHGURU JAGGI VASUDEV PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT MAY 31 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 The Well Beings As the world is faced with challenging times, a bunch of women are at the forefront of ingenuities in healthcare S By SMITHA VERMA ometime in the last week of March, the name of Dr Minal Dakhave Bhosale was splashed all across newspapers and television channels. The virologist from Pune, whom very few people knew until then, had given India its first commercially approved coronavirus testing kit. Even as the media hailed her as the new corona warrior, she was wheeled into the operation theatre, where she underwent a C-sec to deliver a baby girl. Bhosale from MyLabs Discovery , a molecular diagnostic company had worked on the testing kit while in her third , trimester, meeting both a professional and a personal milestone. It’s not Bhosale alone driving innovation, there are many others who are trailblazers in their chosen fields, in one way or the other around the healthcare sector. For instance, Swati Subodh, a scientist, has moved out of the comfortable confines of her lab to find solutions for rural communities. Dr Miniya Chatterji may be based out of Goa, but that hasn’t stopped her from building a pop-up hospital in Kerala and Mumbai for Covid-19 patients. It was the International Day of Action for Women’s Health on May 28. While a day is being observed to raise awareness about women’s health, what we often fail to notice are women working in this field. What about women in healthcare innovation? A few like Akansha Kukreja, Kshititi Nagarkar or Swarnima Bhattacharya didn’t study science in university but their work in the healthcare field can’t be undermined. Anu Acharya is a name to reckon with in genomics while Jasdeep Mago is fighting an unending battle against stigma associated with mental health. Monalisa Padhee left postdoctoral research in Australia to create healthcare solutions for rural women while Rajashri Padmanabhi had the foresight to prepare masks for India even before it was declared a pandemic. While Bhosale certainly made it to the headlines, not everyone gets hailed in equal measure, some remain just a footnote. We profile a few enterprising women making significant contributions to healthcare today . Genome Genius ANU ACHARYA, 48 Entrepreneur, Hyderabad S he joined the Indian Institute of Technology , Kharagpur, as it was her childhood dream to be a physicist just like her father. Growing up in Bikaner, Rajasthan, conversations at home revolved around science. But a few years in IIT and she realised her heart wasn’t in Physics after all. Post her stint in the US—studying Information Systems followed by working at several companies— Acharya returned to Hyderabad to start Ocimum Biosolutions, a bioinformatics company In a . few years, the company became a global genomics outsourcing partner. “By 2011, we had over 11 years of expertise in genomics. It was time to start thinking about the next level. Can we impact people’s lives?” recalls Acharya. Around this time, the study of genomics was gaining traction. Armed with decadelong experience in the field, a Monalisa Padhee (last row, third from left) with women at a programme at Barefoot College state-of-the-art laboratory a , team of bioinformatics experts, and access to databases, Acharya registered her company Mapmygenome in 2012. It also started offering Genomepatri, a first-of-its-kind personalised health solution, with genetic counselling and lifestyle recommendations. A take-off on janampatri (horoscope), Genomepatri is a preventive screen for identifying potential health risks and concerns that arise due to changes in the genetic code. “DNA-based changes can put someone at risk for drug-induced adverse effects, too, which is covered in the test. By knowing about these risks beforehand, one can minimise risk and adverse outcomes,” Acharya explains. They also included factors like severity to SARS-CoV and drugs that are currently used. Getting to know about your personal response can be helpful for the physician treating. Also the knowledge can help build immunity . At present, Acharya is getting her lab ready for Covid-19 testing, and advising states on testing strategies including community testing and the use of antibody tests. And when not consumed by genomes, she finds her solace in poetry and has published a collection titled ‘ tomic Pohe’. A Space Maker Sustainability Incubator, Goa MONALISA PADHEE, 32 Medical Researcher, Rajasthan H er father wasn’t too happy with her decision of reverse migration. While he had left a small village in Odisha to move to a city for better career prospects, his daughter left Australia and moved to a small village in India. “All this while I was doing things to live up to expectations of my father or do what is considered a path for a ‘settled life’. Even though I enjoyed research, I wanted to understand the issues faced by rural women in India,” says Padhee, who grew up in Sambalpur, Odisha, and had moved to Australia for her PhD. She is currently the Program Head of Women Wellness Initiative, Enriche, at Barefoot College, a grassroots social enterprise in Rajasthan. Based out of Tilona village, she works with community health workers in more than 30 villages in the state. Padhee joined Barefoot College under a Youth for India fellowship in 2015 and a year later started working in their Tilona campus. Her team works to fight malnutrition in rural women through awareness, research, and by reviving indigenous products. Padhee would like people to look at innovation beyond technological advancements. She says innovation Colour Therapist AKANSHA KUKREJA, 27 Graphic Designer, New York City H ow often do you come across a graphic designer who wants to work exclusively in women’s healthcare? Meet Akansha Kukreja, a visual designer at Tia clinic—which delivers gynaecology primary care and evidence, based wellness, online and offline—where part of her work involves designing communication. Her innovation lies in making complex concepts easier for the masses through design. “My first day at Tia exposed me to so much more than I could ever imagine. The clinic does not feel like a doctor’s office and actually makes you feel less intimidated,” Kukreja says. “I realised that my understanding of female healthcare (and “From symptomatic treatment, Genomepatri—a first-of-its-kind personalised health solution, with genetic counselling and lifestyle recommendations—shifts the scales towards patient-centric healthcare. This is truly personalised, predictive, participatory, and preventive.” DR MINIYA CHATTERJI, 42 Protein Powerhouse L my own body) was so limited and this could be the case for so many women. I remember sitting down with the resident gynaecologist at the time and asking so many questions,” she recalls. As a young girl growing up in Mumbai, Kukreja often used illustration, colour and typography to communicate what she wanted to say With a communication design . degree from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru, she moved to New York for her master’s and since then has made the city her home. In the lockdown, Kukreja’s work has increased manifold. In the wake of increasing cases and paranoia in New York City Tia recently started , offering Antibody Testing. “My recent project consisted of helping people understand what this test does, how the immune system works and what testing positive or negative could mean,” she says. is about demystifying a solution, so that “it can be put in the hands of rural people to make them self-reliant.” For her, innovation is creating content and engaging with a population that cannot read. Her decision to return to India is her “most fulfilling decision ever taken”. Currently in the US on another fellowship, Padhee rues how the society often glorifies young urban graduates coming back and working for rural communities. “We fail to acknowledge how these communities have fulfilled our own lives. The rural people have taught me true power lies in the collective strength of the communities,” she says. Her team is now working on addressing issues arising out of Covid-19. A trained folk dancer, Padhee often uses music and dance to break barriers. “I have co-created a curriculum to teach mainly semiliterate and illiterate women about their bodies and nutrition. This practical solutionbased curriculum is then used to train local grassroots health champions to disseminate information.” “Visually, we create ways for patients to understand and use information through diagrams and infographics. We also create marketing communications for community events Tia hosts to help women stay engaged.” ocked down in Goa, Dr Miniya Chatterji built a pop-up hospital in Kerala in less than a week. She has also converted a vacant building into an isolation facility in Mumbai for Covid-19 patients. As the number of coronavirus cases rise in India, Chatterji, who is director and founder of the Centre of Sustainability at the Anant National University in Ahmedabad, is preparing quarantine centres and exclusive Covid-19 hospitals. Chatterji’s job is to make businesses function sustainably “In India, I had set up the centre for research at . Anant where we ‘think, teach and do’,” she says over a call from Goa. The phone call that we manage to have is on a weekday late evening, once she has settled her two-year-old son to bed. Chatterji, who is also the CEO , and founder of Sustain Lab Paris (a sustainability incubator), is converting the university campus into a sustainable model through her company . When India had just about 400 cases, Chatterji and her team chalked out a plan and reached out to the group ‘Parliamentarians with Innovators for India’. “Through the group, I got introduced to the Thiruvananthapuram local body and from there work got started,” she says. She is now a government-approved vendor to convert vacant government and non-government spaces into temporary Covid-19 recovery facilities. She does this all in a span of three to five days. In Mumbai, Chatterji has converted three centres—in Najam Baugh, St Xavier’s College and Dongri. “The whole idea is to make it extremely affordable. So we came up with laminated corrugated cardboard beds, which can take the weight of seven people and is priced at `1,300. A hospital bed made of steel is at the moment is priced at `5,000,” she explains. At 42, Chatterji has held prominent positions—a policy analyst to former French President Jacques Chirac, a banker with Goldman Sachs in London, and a few years’ stint at the World Economic Forum—before returning to India after 14 years. “I joined the Jindal Steel & Power Group as their Chief Sustainability Officer in 2014 and at that time not many organisations had this position. Three years later, I started Sustain Labs Paris.” The author of Indian Instincts, a collection of essays on India, also teaches a master’s course, six weeks a year, at SciencesPo Paris, a university in France. “In India, 7.5 percent of residential spaces are lying vacant. It is a terrible paradox. On one hand people don’t have houses and on the other there are such spaces that are lying abandoned. For quarantine facilities we can use vacant apartments and for ICUs we need halls.” Turn to page 2
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