Banner Picture: Health Check up campaign held in August 2016
Health intervention through curative and preventive services can alleviate living conditions.
According to National Health Mission 2013 survey, Government of India, Uttar Pradesh has infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate and sex ratio that are all significantly more adverse than that of overall country. Poverty aggravates social conditions perpetuating the cycle of disempowerment. Health intervention through curative and preventive services can alleviate the living conditions within the social and economic context.
Lack of health awareness and adequate preventive measures in the decades gone by has resulted in severe disease burden on the surrounding villages. They require medical intervention on ongoing basis through primary health care services.
Sanjivan Hospital, our vehicle for curative services made a modest beginning with a small dispensary in 1954. Dr. R.A. Kale, with the help of Social Welfare Board and the State Government established an eight-bed hospital in 1955. The hospital is located near the village of Sarai Mohana and provides medical services free of cost to a combined population of over a hundred thousand people from surrounding villages. In addition, owing to its long history and compassionate approach, patients come from as far as Bihar, M.P., Rajasthan and other regional states. A team of two Doctors assisted by permanent nursing staff and temporary resources has been treating as many as 30,000 outpatients a year. The communities are treated for Tuberculosis, asthma, heart diseases, ENT problems, skin diseases, gynecological problems and others. The hospital is equipped with pathological laboratory, X-ray unit, dispensary and an ambulance.
Under this program, about 700 patients have been treated every year including for the resistant types of Tuberculosis.
Despite Tuberculosis (TB) having been banished from most states, Uttar Pradesh continues to have a worrying incidence. Indoor pollution, tobacco usage, smoking and high incidence of diabetes are compounded by low levels of immunity leading to TB. Thanks to its proximity to some of the worst affected villages, Sanjivan Hospital is able to address the issue through government approved programmes. The hospital is an approved center for the DOTS program (Directly Observed Treatment, Short Course) for treatment of Tuberculosis. Under this program, about 700 patients have been treated every year including for the resistant types of MDR-TB and XDR-TB.
According to WHO, vaccination stimulates the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease. This is especially relevant when affected population live in economic and social contexts prone to a higher disease burden. Through the hospital, children upto the age of 5 are vaccinated. Regular campaigns on awareness of vaccination and outreach sponsored by other hospitals like Ramakrishna Mission or BHU as well as corporate entities are conducted.
While curative intervention may address current issues, only preventive measures especially at a young age can forestall the rise of diseases in the first place. It is more so as the young generation needs sound health to capitalize on the educational and livelihood opportunities. Our preventive health services are centred around the rural school. At Achyut Patwardan School (APS), health initiative takes two forms:
While curative intervention may address current issues, only preventive measures especially at a young age can forestall the rise of diseases in the first place.
interventions that address acute deficiencies that may contribute to learning difficulties
A study in March 2017 at the school showed that Vitamin A deficiency (proxy being Bitot’s spots) was significantly higher than the recommendation of WHO. Working with our rural hospital, Vitamin A supplementation was immediately begun at the school for all the children. We are monitoring the data to track improvement.
An immediate treatment with Iron folic acid and diet supplementation with egg and milk was started.
Nutritional deficiency resulting in anemia is common among the children in the adjoining villages due to undernourishment. In October 2016, this was subsequently confirmed among APS students through blood tests with incidence as high as 90%. An immediate treatment with Iron folic acid and diet supplementation with egg and milk was started. Data measured just 2 months later showed substantial improvement among all age and gender groups.
In Feb 2017, we conducted an eye test for 275 students in APS that revealed a number of students having uncorrected visual defects. The school through donors arranged for spectacles for the students who showed acute issues. One to one consultation was done with parents on the necessity of regular usage of spectacles.
creating health awareness among children and their parents
The areas contiguous to the school are exposed to serious risks due to poor delivery of Government health services, congestion, pollution, lack of cleanliness, open defecation and lack of awareness above all. APS and our rural hospital have spearheaded a range of initiatives to address the situation.
In December 2016, the school launched a cleanliness awareness campaign that involved a series of meetings, seminars and presentations that involved the children along with their parents. The focus was on three areas: avoidance of open defecation, hand washing and risks from water ponds.
Leading Doctors from Delhi University spent 2 months from Jan 2017 with the APS children and the community educating on various aspects relating to health. The focus was on maternal health, usage of napkins and cleanliness.
In August 2016, we tied up with Seeds Asia’s Climate School initiative to educate villagers on disaster risk management amidst the flooding in Varanasi. This was followed later by a town watching exercise and fire safety training for community.