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Sommer Scholars

Anju Ranjit

Master of Public Health Student

When Anju Ranjit worked as a physician in rural Nepal, she encountered a gender bias as insidious as it was hostile. Many patients refused to be seen by a woman, and they rarely addressed her as “doctor.” They rechecked the prescriptions she wrote with male auxiliary workers. And when she attended births in the emergency room, she was not permitted to conduct the deliveries. As the first child of a 16-year-old who was married before she could complete school, Ranjit was born weighing only 4 pounds, 6 ounces, and needed to be resuscitated from asphyxia. Later she required many trips to the hospital for bronchial asthma. “My mother and I were lucky enough to survive her high-risk pregnancy as a teenager, but I know many girls and babies I met in the villages won’t be,” she says. During her two years as a medical officer in the district of Syangja, Ranjit found that sexually transmitted diseases, unsafe abortions, repeated and high-risk pregnancies and malnutrition were rampant because women were unaware of prevention, never sought medical help or were denied access to services. Ranjit seeks to deepen her understanding of a population-based approach to health so that she can help prevent the occurrence of disease. She hopes to work with the Nepalese government and international agencies, conducting programs that will educate women about their reproductive health and their health rights. 26: Number of family members in the joint family household in which Ranjit grew up