Fourteen years ago in Birwadi, India, just over one hundred miles southeast of Mumbai and about fifty miles from the Arabian Sea, Ambalika Tanak’s grandmother suffered a heart attack. Only her doctors didn’t know it. The 72-year-old woman’s symptoms were ambiguous, and the local hospital didn’t have the equipment to properly diagnose her. They mistakenly thought she was having an asthma attack. So she didn’t get the treatment she needed.
Even in Maharashtra, the most industrialized state in India, small towns like Birwadi, with a population of just over seven thousand, have fewer resources for treating complex medical conditions than those in Mumbai, nearly a five-hour drive away. When her grandmother’s condition worsened, Tanak’s parents decided to transfer her to Mumbai.