With the high rate of technological advancements that are permeating our everyday lives, it’s all too easy to overlook some of the less than ideal conditions that are still prevalent even in countries who seem to be making 21st century strides. India, a country that has long experienced a sharp socioeconomic and cultural divide, is one of these paradoxes; the country that was building wifi infrastructure to meet the rising demand of ebooks and digital textbooks in its classrooms still suffers from lack of basic healthcare access for many of its citizens.
The healthcare crisis isn’t one to be taken lightly. The most recent CDC statistics still list tuberculosis as one of the top ten leading causes of death in India, along with four different cardiopulmonary and circulatory issues. While suicide and injury are also in the top ten, reproductive health issues are still one of the leading causes of death, a sad state of affairs in a country in which one in seventy women is expected to die due to pregnancy or childbirth-related conditions.
Hopefully, the healthcare landscape is beginning to improve, especially with initiatives like Google’s recent development of health information in India. Where “self-diagnosing” courtesy of sites like WebMD has become a pop culture joke in the US, the lack of access to even the most basic healthcare for much of India’s population makes the need for searchable medical information even more important.
Powered by the search giant’s Knowledge Graph, Google Health will provide up-to-date and easy to understand health information at the user’s fingertips. In a similar way that citizens in other countries can search their specific symptoms, Google Health aims to demystify the medical care process for citizens for whom going to the doctor is a once-in-a-lifetime (at best) event. Even more important, the tool will not only provide medical professionals in outlying areas with the most accurate information possible, but will also ideally help with preventive care and healthy lifestyle choices. Google has warned that its searchable information, available in English and Hindi in its desktop search engine and its iOS and Android apps, is not meant to be a replacement for medical services or to serve as medical advice, but merely help citizens with limited access to medical care understand their symptoms more clearly.