The discipline of Public Health stresses on ensuring access to healthcare for all, in the spirit of Universal Health Coverage. Oral health is an innate part of general health and well being. However, this noble intention is often forgotten and whole communities remain outside the ambit of healthcare. While the reasons behind such deprivations can fill volumes, what is urgently needed is change. Project Kartavya aims to bring oral healthcare to one of the communities which is almost invisible when it comes to accessing healthcare – the transgender community. Through a pioneering, non-profit initiative envisioned by Mumbai based Dr Vaibhav Kumar (MDS, Public Health Dentistry and Project Director, Kartavya) states “it aims to make oral healthcare accessible to the community, transcending several barriers of accessibility, acceptability, affordability and awareness, cumulating to a positive healthcare seeking attitude and healthcare providing attitude”.
Ms Nitasha Biswas, Miss Transqueen India 2017 is all set to represent the country at the International pageant- Miss International Queen 2018, is on board as the Goodwill Ambassador of Project Kartavya. While the short term goals are removing barriers and bringing care to the people, the long term goals not only include expansion to other areas of healthcare to build a comprehensive, stigma-free oral healthcare delivery to the community at large on a multi-centric basis, but also trying to create employment opportunities and areas in the field of healthcare for the community, and also community friendly dental clinics in partnership. “We all really try to work on various attributes of the health sector such as HIV/ AIDS etc, and have a long list that would never end. Oral health care is basic personal hygiene. I chose to be part of Kartavya because I find purpose in the oral paradigm of healthcare and that compliments my beauty. Due to the hustle bustle of routine life, this is neglected. I not only want my community to be aware of oral healthcare related issues for a better living for tomorrow, but spread the good cheer of Kartavya all around India and to the world through my journey to Miss International Queen 2018”, states Nitasha.
Further Dr Vaibhav adds, We believe that the way to enjoying good health is not only through curative and preventive measures aimed to preserve health but also nurture and sustain economic well being, thus causing empowerment by focusing on the social determinants of health as well. This is probably the first public step in that direction for oral health of the transgender community”.
Kartavya embodies the basic ethos of resonating responsibility in not only providing basic oral health care (which is a fundamental constitutional right for all), but more importantly, breaking the glass barrier between the oral health care providers and the transgender community. All set to flag off the first chapter of Kartavya in the Delhi-NCR region, Dr Reena R. Kumar (Principal and Dean , Divya Jyoti College of Dental Sciences and Research and Program Director Delhi-NCR region) expressed, “ Dental equity and equality are primary facets of the system. We believe that such an initiative is special because of the fundamentals of inclusion and integration through and of oral health care. Oral healthcare for all is the need of the hour.”