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Penn Student Agencies Credit: Yolanda Chen

Michael Edison Hayden, an American journalist based out of Mumbai, India, and photographer Sami Siva presented their Pulitzer Center-supported reporting projects to students on Thursday evening.

Hayden and Siva's reporting focuses on India’s health care crisis as seen through the eyes of doctors, government officials and activists from Mumbai, Delhi and rural regions of India. The two explained how many of India’s hospitals are in rapid decay — in impoverished regions of the country, the population vastly outnumbers the medical staff, and the little equipment available is either dated or broken.

They discussed the conditions in the B.C. Roy Post-Graduate Institute of Pediatric Sciences, which in one recent month lost 30 babies born into its care. Similarly, the same hospital lost 18 babies in two days, leaving little hope that the problem will remedy itself. Hayden said that a “deeper infrastructural problem had been ignored." Primary health centers in impoverished areas are not capable of handling the amount of people and sent the children to B.C. Roy. But by that time it was too late. “The country doesn’t spend enough money on health care," Hayden said.

When asked about a possible solution, Hayden said that he can only write the story and get it out there and that hopefully the right people will see and try to fix it. “It’s an infrastructural problem, and politicians have to know so they do something about it,” he said. Hayden added that money goes to city hospitals, and these rural hospitals are left to atrophy because they’re in remote areas.

Hayden and Siva also talked about their work in Andhra Pradesh, which has the fastest growing rate of HIV/AIDS of any Indian state but where many patients have been refused care. “The Gandhi Hospital was denying treatment to HIV/AIDS patients due to fear of contagion," Hayden said. "They don’t understand — there’s a misunderstanding about the disease and how it’s spread." 

At the end of the event, they had a discussion with the audience and showed various photographs taken by Sami Siva of the conditions in various hospitals in India. The photos included images of people waiting to be attended on the ground or outside the hospital and, due to lack of staff, mothers helping out with the procedures.

The Campus Consortium partnership between the Middle East Center, South Asia Center and the Pulitzer Center features programming on campus with journalists to foster broader discussions and critical analysis of concerns that span disciplines and international student reporting fellowships. Last year's fellows, College senior Priya Ramchandra and Nursing graduate student Farzana Shah, gave an update on their summer reporting projects from India and Iran, respectively. Both gave anecdotes on their different experiences and advice to those in the audience interested in applying for the fellowship.

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