Artika Datta's blog, India April 2019

By Artika Datta, Advanced Specialist Dietitian

A lifelong passion for learning and the desire to enhance my knowledge have helped me to remain self- motivated. After completing BSc. Honours in Nutrition and Msc. in Dietetics from Kings College London, I was very fortunate to get my first job as a dietitian in Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Since 2006 I have worked in a variety of areas such as Diabetes, Head and Neck and Upper GI Oncology. My current areas of specialty are Home Enteral feeding and Motor Neurone Disease. Working with patients with life limiting illnesses has helped me to learn the qualities of being grateful and compassionate and not taking things such as my health and well-being for granted.

Witnessing poverty and disparity was something that I grew up with in the first 21 years of my life in India. My parents and especially my grandmother taught me to be a kind person and to show generosity towards others who were less fortunate than me. However, I only truly appreciated this from my father in law and mother in law who devoted their precious time and resources helping people from disadvantaged communities through their work with Rama Foundation.

Having an understanding of the issues of malnutrition and the impact of under-nutrition in children and adults in rural India inspired me to encourage other dietitians from Addenbrookes Hospital to volunteer their time and skills to help improve the nutritional status of these children. I am extremely passionate about the role of nutrition in palliative care and the importance of it in improving the quality of lives of people with life-limiting illnesses. As a trustee of Rama Foundation, I have volunteered in Ganga Prem Hospice (in Rishikesh) giving dietary advice to patients and providing teaching sessions for the staff. My passion to continue making small contributions to the lives of patients and children from disadvantaged communities motivated me to undertake these forthcoming projects in Ganga Prem Hospice and Government School Number 8 in Rishikesh.

To make our forthcoming trip to India worthwhile, a lot of time has been spent in planning and organisation including several meetings to design our projects including talks and presentations. We have formulated a timetable to enable us to complete our objectives efficiently and communicating our ideas with the school and the hospice in Rishikesh. My colleagues and I are very grateful to the Cambridge Global Health Partnerships at Addenbrookes for supporting us financially.

I am really looking forward to spending time with the school children in Rishikesh. My 10 year old son, Yush, has also volunteered to help the dietitians with translation and to help with other activities. I am most looking forward to working with my son and watch him interact with the school children and supporting the dietitians.

Follow Artika's personal reflections about her trip to India on @ArtikaDatta.