Keerthi Danthuri – Living the passion towards community health
Keerthi Danthuri is a Research Assistant at the George Institute, working in a project titled Improving the health status and health service uptake in urban slums of Vijayawada.
Q. Tell us a bit about your professional background?
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in dental surgery from C.K.S.Teja Dental College and Research Institute, Tiruptati. For a couple of years, I practiced in dental clinics and hospitals. The hospital’s I worked in exposed me to health check-up camps. Initially, I supported these health camps and went on to organize quite a few. This was the tipping point that drove my passion towards community health and hence I perused a master’s degree in public health with specialization in epidemiology from Manipal University. My first working and learning experience as a public health professional was at a non-governmental organization called Divya Disha. For 2 years, my contribution to the organisation was in the domain of physical living conditions and child rights in urban slums in Hyderabad.
Q What is your role in TGI?
I joined The George Institute for Global Health as a Research Assistant in the Hyderabad office. I am working in the project funded by the HCL Foundation titled ‘Improving the health status and health service uptake in urban slums of Vijayawada’. Under this project, 10 urban slums are chosen. These slums are densely populated, and this poses challenges while controlling seasonal and communicable diseases, ensuring good quality of life and, improving the health outcomes of the vulnerable population.
Q. What inspired you in the work you do and why?
I have immense respect for research and uplifting health of communities through research and service. Public health provides me the best working atmosphere to do the both (research as well as implementation) which I value the most. The work that I do is very challenging, however it gives me great satisfaction to see tangible results and these positive outcomes keep me motivated to work for even better results.
Q. What does a normal day look like at work for you now? Has your work life changed at all due to the corona virus?
Prior to COVID-19 and the nationwide lockdown, I used to travel a lot to the project in Vijayawada. For a normal working day, I only had evenings to spend time with my family and I had a very fast-moving life. I never knew when my day started and when it had ended. Now, with the new normal, I get to spend time with family and work at the same time. I feel like I am compensating for the missed times.
Also, I go to the office once a week. The office is not like it was before. Now it is mostly empty and quiet. However, on some days I get to more people in office, that surely lifts my mood and spirit. We are all adjusting to the new normal and getting back to life as it was.
Q. Has the crisis affected any of your work projects/programs? If so, how have you adapted to the situation?
Due to the lockdown there were some delays at work. Our hands were tied when the field work and health camps were halted. This was challenging but gave a different nudge to our project. We changed the way we worked, and we did teleconsultations between doctors and beneficiaries. This was helpful given the current times and something that we can take beyond this pandemic. The crisis made us to think out of the box and put a creative spin to getting things done.
Q. What kind of support do you need from TGI during this period?
The TGI meetings and weekly townhalls have been very useful. They have helped to increase the moral of the employees to work in a crisis. All colleagues were just a phone call away and we usually called each other for work, coffee breaks, to exchange greetings and just to have casual talks. We have received the best we could have in such hard times. Sharing personal experiences and playing games in the townhalls was very refreshing and I hope to have this continued.
Q. Any advice for your colleagues during these challenging times?
A routine and doing things one step at a time are very important especially when working from home for a prolonged time. It helps to grow and be sane in difficult times. My advice would be to keep the routine going, not to take stress instead try to have fun while working and spending time with family.