Is there a F.A.I.R way to approach Public Health?

By- Anjali Mediboina,

Fourth Year Student, ASRAM

“…for the world to be a better place, we all need to learn to be F.A.I.R. with ourselves, with all those around us.” -Ramit Singh Chimni

In August, I had the opportunity to be on the organising team for “A F.A.I.R. Space at AMSA India”, an online project for medical students, inspired by Eight Goals One Foundation’s (8one) The F.A.I.R. Project[1]. We had 20 participants apply the F.A.I.R. method of thinking to various premises related to WASH, i.e. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Sustainable Development Goal-6).

The F.A.I.R. methodology is a four-step thought process which aims to help an individual arrive at a conclusion that is both fair, and benefits all. The steps are: 

  • F: Fact-finding and Familiarising: Gathering and analysing adequate amounts of data to form an initial stance
  • A: Advocating for the Alternative Viewpoints: Identifying and understanding the perspective of  all the relevant stakeholders and then advocating for their viewpoints to compare it with one’s own initial stance.
  • I : Introspecting and Interrogating Yourself: Validating, re- validating and self-criticising the information gathered through ‘F’ and ‘A’.
  • R: Reasoning and Rationalising: Making sure that all of these steps contribute to a conclusion that is reasonable and rational[1].

Watching the participants (referred to as Changemakers) explore various topics, ranging from Green Menstruation to the Shipping Industry, from a F.A.I.R. point of view was extremely interesting. It forced us to see beyond what we were taught.

For example, Green Menstruation- I’m sure you’ve all been seeing and hearing about this movement for more environmentally-friendly menstrual products and various influencers promote the usage of menstrual cups on social media. While it is a good idea (the waste generated by sanitary napkins is insane), have you ever thought about whether it would be equitable for all? 

Or, take the example of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (also a premise explored in our project). We all know how much India’s hygiene standards have improved since SBA was introduced. One of the goals achieved was the construction of latrines in various areas, which was a great initiative taken by the government, no doubt. But have you ever thought about whether these latrines are being used or not? And if they are, whether they are being maintained hygienically or not? 

These were points that were brought up by our Changemakers during the “A- Advocating for the Alternate Viewpoint” session, and they blew my mind- I hadn’t even considered these things until then. 

To quote Ramit Singh Chimni, one of the founders for Eight Goals One Foundation (8one), in his TEDx talk, The Fairness Paradigm[3]:

“…right from their childhoods, and from all of your childhoods, you’ve been taught right and wrong. You’ve been taught good vs. evil. What you’ve not been taught, unfortunately, well enough and with as much vigour, how to determine right and wrong for yourselves.”

Which is true. Especially with social media, we are exposed to so many thoughts and opinions, that we come to conclusions about an issue without even thinking or trying to find out more. This is where applying the F.A.I.R. methodology comes into play; it ensures that despite our preconceived notions and biases, we come to a rational conclusion where all aspects of a problem are considered. 

So, what if this method was applied while analysing, criticising and formulating Health Policies?

Imagine if the Government had taken the initiative to market its Suvidha pads[4] (which are biodegradable sanitary napkins available at only 1/- per pad), in the same way Swachh Bharat was marketed- as a public movement and with celebrity ambassadors.

Imagine if the Government had ensured the adoption and proper construction of twin-pit latrines[5].

Imagine if there was strict enforcement of rules and regulations on the shipping industry- such that safer vessels are constructed and better quality fuels are used. 

And so on and so forth.

I will admit, no policy or law will be free of loopholes. However, the extent of loss incurred by those loopholes can always be reduced if the proper countermeasures are in place. And these countermeasures can definitely be thought of if one thinks in a F.A.I.R. way about all dimensions of a problem. 

Learn more about Eight Goals One Foundation (8one) and The F.A.I.R. Project here.

Watch our Changemakers talk about W.A.S.H. related topics here.

References:

  1. [Internet]. Eight Goals One Foundation (8one) 8onefoundation.org 2020 [cited 12 September 2021]. Available from: http://www.8onefoundation.org/img/FAIRPROJECTBROCHURE.pdf
  2. Talk Point: What measures are needed to ensure that every Indian school has trained teachers by 2019? [Internet]. ThePrint. 2017 [cited 13 September 2021]. Available from: https://www.google.com/amp/s/theprint.in/talk-point/measures-needed-ensure-every-indian-school-trained-teachers-2019/8671/%3famp
  3. Chimni R. The Fairness Paradigm [Internet]. Ted.com. 2018 [cited 12 September 2021]. Available from: https://www.ted.com/talks/ramit_singh_chimni_the_fairness_paradigm_jan_2019
  4. Sanitary Napkins available for Rs. 1/- per pad at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras [Internet]. Pib.gov.in. 2020 [cited 12 September 2021]. Available from: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1632082
  5. Sadanand N. The Swachh Bharat Mission has built toilets, but failed to get people to use them [Internet]. Scroll.in. 2019 [cited 12 September 2021]. Available from: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.scroll.in/article/939096/the-swachh-bharat-mission-has-built-toilets-but-failed-to-get-people-to-use-them

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