Health First – Caring for Rural Poor

HERD Foundation regularly organizes health camps in rural areas where it has been proactively working with tribal and rural populations. The objective is not simply providing health services but also creating locales where entire communities are sensitized to the dire importance of staying healthy. Camps draw out sick and infirm men, women, children and elderly in need of medical help. These camps have the benign presence of generous doctors who offer their services wholeheartedly.

The good doctors are instrumental in demonstrating to the associated medical team staffers how health issues may be dealt with rural communities in an empathetic and interactive manner. Camps are usually well attended as a result of pre-publicity that is done to mobilize patients, whose names, and follow-up details are duly registered. The camp activities usually also include sharing information about preventive measures and awareness on issues of health and hygiene.

As a well-known NGO in these parts run by Dr Amol Deshmukh, HERD Foundation recently organized two special, almost-free medical heath check-up camps for tribal people at Pauni in Ramtek Tehsil and for townspeople of Saoner. Held on January 10 and 12 respectively the camps had 180 patients at Pauni and 175 patients at Saoner to benefit from the care provided by the medical team. Each and every patient was given a personal health card; their details recorded and were offered counseling on the need to stay fit.

The health camps were for the benefit of rural and tribal populations living in Saoner town and Pench forest areas. They were intimated about the health camp through distribution of leaflets giving relevant information and by word of mouth publicity. The camps held from 10:00 AM until 02:00 PM extended well over the stipulated time as patients kept arriving steadily. A token fee of Rs 10 at Pauni and Rs 20 at Saoner was charged for offering a range of services.

As patients lined up before meeting the specialist doctors, they were taken care of by a medical team that recorded their history and basic profile – blood pressure, weight, physical examination by stethoscope and so on were all recorded in their health card file. Medicines were also prescribed and provided to patients who were diagnosed and were advised with due follow up to their ailments with HERD Foundation doctors visiting Pauni and Saoner.

The Pauni camp was monitored by Dr Amol Deshmukh and Dr Suchika Gupta Deshmukh – both co-founders of HERD Foundation. Dr Anuprita Bhadage and Dr Hemlata Kashyap, doctors devoted to Pauni Tribal clinic attended to the patients. In time Dr Suchika Gupta also undertook diagnosis and counseling for the benefit of the tribal patients. The range of afflictions included blood pressure, infections, skin disorders, diabetes, asthma, orthopedic injuries, abdominal pain, back pain and seasonal disorders.

The Saoner camp with a focus on orthopedics had the benefit of the presence of Dr Kuldeep Deshpande, orthopedic doctor from Sancheti Hospital, Pune who offered his services in the camp. Along with him Dr Sushma Gupta, Dr Kanchan as general physicians were examining and prescribing treatments to the patients. Dr Suchika Gupta present at the camp keenly observed the activities of the medical camp. Of the total number of 175 patients visiting the Saoner health camp 60% were for orthopedics, 25% for skin ailments and nearly 15% for general and pediatrics.

Dr Amol Deshmukh has been organizing these health camps under the auspices of “Doctor Aaple Daari” or “Doctor At Your Doorstep” consistently over the past three years, benefitting countless poor villagers in the region. HERD Foundation promotes such health camps with the aim to provide healthcare and awareness on fitness by rural populations. Follow ups are important to maintain quality of health camps and they also help to retain the faith of the people on the diligent treatments.

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HERD Foundation Celebrates Kite Flying Festivities For Makar Sankranti

January 14 is celebrated as Makar Sankranti Festival each year all over India. It is said to be one of the most ancient of Hindu festivals. Devoted to the Sun God the day heralds the change of seasons and welcomes the soon-to-come spring time. The festival is associated with communities cutting across the country who all follow diverse traditions with great enthusiasm. The one tradition in common above all, all over, is that of flying kites!!

HERD Foundation HR unit had the staff celebrating the kite flying festivities with great fanfare. Members were invited to go up on the office terrace to enjoy flying of colourful kites.  Soon everyone was busy drawing strings on the paper kites and attempting to get them up in the air to adorn the sky. Colourful kites were to waft amid music and cheers from the staff members.

Wondering why the tradition of flying kites is associated with Sankranti, soon many thoughts began floating around. Some had been taught traditionally that since winters brought in the cold along with illness, the sun offered relief. While it is common to lounge in the warmth of the winter sun to be rid of the chill and disease causing germs, kite flying added a new dimension to enjoying the sun. In fact the act of flying kites is said to be a more proactive way of enjoying the sun.

A yet more symbolic reason on offer is that flying kites up in the high skies is to reach up to the heavens on Makar Sankranti day to offer obeisance and thankfulness to the gods. It is also seen to be a signal to help awaken the Gods who as per mythology go to sleep for six months. Makar Sankranti is the day they wake up and the blue skies are dotted with colourful kites to welcome them.

Taking these reasons with a pinch of salt, the fact remains that all across the country kites fly high on this day. Regarded as the first big festival of the calendar year, (the Hindu New Year is in March on Gudi Padwa day), young and old people participate with great fervor for this annual ritual. Preparations for the celebrations begin days in advance to stock up kites, strings and all other needed paraphernalia.

Makar Sankranti festival is celebrated with great joy by rich and poor alike. The festival marks the onset of spring and thereafter summer after the cold winter which makes it’s a harbinger of good times ahead. The festival in particular gets everyone out in the sun offering health benefits and enjoying special treats prepares especially for the day. The sun offers medicinal support, exposing people with good doses of Vitamin D.

HERD Foundation staff enjoyed the day amid gaiety, laughter and music in the sun, enjoying fun, special fare and togetherness in a spirit of bonhomie offered by the Human Resources unit. Special thanks are due to Nisha Mishra, HR Manager and Latika Vadher, HR Executive for contributing to the success of the event.

Health Care in Rural India

 

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Access to healthcare is a right that all of us need as a fundamental right. However, despite the grand developments in our country healthcare in rural areas cuts a sorry figure all across the nation. It is appalling that rural regions as yet remain deprived of necessary medical facilities, often infrastructure and medical staff as also non-availability of medicines.  Medical support is clearly denied to nearly 60% of the rural population in India.

Nearly 700 million people in rural areas continue to live in deprivation of basic healthcare and medical relief.  The situation is more deplorable because the fact is that government extension plans, processes and service schemes are in place but actual delivery is missing. This is a major dysfunctional gap that makes the picture very grim indeed.  It’s a caring philanthropy through charities and non-governmental agencies that offers some succor to the rural residents cut away from modern medical benefits.

HERD Foundation has been organizing health camps in rural regions since the past three years. Offering practices and procedures in the isolated forest areas of Central India the Foundation has ensure healthcare delivery in deprived corners of the region. Starting with assistance by organizing mobile health camps we have successfully set up an effective outpost clinic that is affiliated to a partner hospital for referrals. A dedicated medical team serves the predominantly tribal people settled in the parts offering primary health care.

HERD Foundation is well aware that the country accounts for the largest number of maternity deaths. Medical fraternity knows for sure that in the rural areas maternal health care is very poor. Our approaches therefore include education camps where we instruct on the basics of mother and child care. Our health care modules include essential aspects in nutrition, hygiene, antenatal care and access to proper medical care.

Often due to non-availability of public health care rural residents have to scout for doctors and hospitals in urban centers. The travel and transport are an additional burden on beleaguered families. It is for this reason that HERD Foundation camps are flooded with patients since despite the token fee it is access to medications that is a big draw.   Also because running to city based doctors is expensive the presence of a near-free health camp is a huge welcome relief.

HERD Foundation also works on teaching with regard to control and spread of diseases to reduce the rates of sick people. Again lack of health facilities has us paying special attention to the needs in rural areas. Taking on key challenges that include low quality of care, poor accountability, lack of awareness, and limited access to facilities we assist by providing access to referrals to like-minded hospitals.

There are very many ways in which we hope to extend the range of our services. We hope to include simple technologies like for instance mobile connectivity to cater to the needs of the villagers.  By improving communication we may create systems that allow for additional outreach. We are hoping that mobile phones may in the near future offer extensive reach across the demography. This point was recently brought home to us and we will explore the possibilities.

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Need to Bridge Skill-Gaps for Rural Income Generation Activities

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The rural area around Nagpur where HERD Foundation works needs to be developed to rejuvenate its dwindling economy. Much needs to be undertaken for poverty alleviation and creation of suitable livelihood options. Comprising of tribal populations subsisting primarily on agriculture it has never appeared more important than now to create avenues for income generation. Aside from agriculture the region remains sadly bereft of any traditional skills or rural enterprises that may augment living conditions.

HERD Foundation is exploring approaches to generate fresh perspectives through people’s participation in planning their resurgence. Our initial steps in these directions have led us to probe a variety of opportune ideas. However for lack of any traditional expertise that usually offers a way out, we are left high and dry with this aboriginal population who are largely forest dwelling inhabitants. Having given up their nomadic existence both men and a segment of women simply carry on by tilling the land to make ends meet.

HERD Foundation is of the view that we need to create pathways for appropriating skills that could offer a way out. But bridging the skill deficiency gap is a huge challenge. The majority of house bound women although interested in investing their time for income generating activities remain confounded by the lack of opportunities. Many of these women are members of self-help groups but their activities are restricted to pooling bits of their money for sharing small loans to tide over economic adversity.

They have never ever attempted at using their funds for productive purposes. However with limited access to opportunities for skill building it appears an uphill task to offer them access to sustainable livelihoods. One of the reasons for this is lack of access to any sort of skill training. Relying largely on agriculture and farm based livelihood opportunities, a greater majority remain unemployed. This unskilled or untrained mass of women can be taught to imbibe certain skills for prospective enterprises.

HERD Foundation looks at these gaps in abilities as an opportunity to set up training programs in appropriate skills that may help them set up suitable ventures. Through purposeful examination we intend to establish fitting vocational training that could lead to sustainable forms of employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship. However we are well aware that any skill building program would have to be a long term project to make it viable and workable.

This then means that skill building trainings would have to be targeted towards turning rural unskilled women to be befittingly trained to be work-ready and employable. By the end of such trainings they ought to be effectively ready to be linked with self-employment opportunities. Through these skills building programs interested women could take on enterprises that have the possibility of fruition. One can even think of adopting an ‘Employer-Payer’ model in which an external entrepreneur supports training-needs by mobilizing and training the women who later become ready to be absorbed in any given enterprise.

However the most important factor here would be the interest and proficiency of the rural women in becoming an intrinsic part of the efforts. They need to be made aware of the importance of their skills, outlook, attitude and focus for continued improvement and development. HERD Foundation is looking ahead to take on tasks for appropriate skill-building and livelihood creation for employability and entrepreneurship through interventions and partnerships with government and corporate agencies who share similar futuristic plans.

Spread the Circle of Organic Farming

Most of us are aware of the hubbub in the wake of the disquieting news of DDT being found in human milk. Four decades back when this information first hit out that human breast milk was contaminated with the pesticide DDT, it had created a furore across the world. Strict restrictions on its use lowered DDT concentrations in human milk.

The pesticide DDT was used since 1940s to control typhus and agricultural pests. However the harmful effects led to a strict ban on its use after the 1970’s. But we still remain riddled with concerns over its existence in the environment for causing irreversible health problems. Similarly conventional farming too remains troubled with the continued use of chemicals in agriculture that affect health of people eating chemical laden food.

Several countries are safely transitioning back to organic methods of farming to obtain healthy produce. Organic farming reverts back to traditional approaches in farming to cultivate food without using fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, chemicals or genetically modified organisms. Organic farming ensures crops do not harbor harmful residues of toxic chemicals. It deploys methods of farming that are sustainable and in sync with nature.

HERD Organic Farms undertakes organic farming and we realize that soil fertility improves dramatically as does productivity over time. We have been making use of natural manure that is produced at the farm by organic practices of composting and production of green manure that makes the soil more productive and fertile. Farm manager Anil Khare states: “Soil treated with organic fertilizers hosts billions of useful bacteria that are useful in breaking down plant residues and livestock wastes into useful soil nutrients to improve soil binding.”

We have also discovered that organic farming establishes biodiversity and that our methodologies have ensured development of a resilient bio-diverse landscape. These natural practices have helped in minimizing erosion of agricultural biodiversity and enhanced species richness and abundance. With absolutely no chemical usage in the farms the landscape has become rich with organic flora and fauna like pollinators and pest pillagers!

In fact organic practices have also prevented water contamination. Since we do not allow water to get exposed to any kind of toxins the soil remains rich in organic matter with salubrious moisture content. It is further a matter of deep satisfaction that ground water retention and infiltration is toxic free. Healthy soil acts like a sponge to keep vegetation well moisturized with unsoiled recharged underground water.

Last but not the least organic farming diminishes conventional energy use by minimizing agricultural chemical needs and addresses the issue of emissions and global warming by repossessing carbon in the soil. Good practices like reduced tillage, crop rotation, nitrogen fixing legumes and so on maximize the carbon concentration in soil. We all know that the more organic carbon stored in soil the more mitigation ability of agriculture against climate change.

Organic farming is truly a win-win situation. Aside from it improving soil binding and reducing runoff, the soil remains nutrient rich resulting in increased soil density causing less runoff. Organic farming also boosts bacteria that help plants fix nitrogen and help utilize and convert these nutrients before they get an opportunity to run-off. With so many benefits why then is organic farming taking so much time to be adopted by all. The fact is that many farmers remain apprehensive about adopting it due to high production costs. Add to this the burden of competing with low prices of conventional produce.

HERD Organic Farms contends with this issue but remains resolute to stand for sustainable organic farming. Even though the yield may be low we know that long term profitability and environmental benefits are in store. Upcoming studies portend that desired yields will come in good time. It is for this reason that we need to extend the circle of influence for promoting organic farming and bring conventional farmers into the fold. To this end HERD Foundation remains committed.

 

 

Good Start – Good Deeds

How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.

‘As one lamp lights another, nor grows less, So nobleness enkindleth nobleness.’ Basic Life Support (BLS) is a vision to which Dr Suchika Deshmukh connects to and contributes consistently for its realization. Adhering to this universal vision, it is her belief and credo that the vision can only be affirmed by undertaking continuous, positive steps for BLS training. It is her chosen area of affirmation for her country, for which she takes proactive stance through her words, feelings and actions.

Putting together all positive energy to connect the people who value human lives, she is the driving force behind HERD Foundation for sharing and enlarging the scope of BLS. Never one to lose an opportunity to extend her mission she puts together all like-minded individuals and agencies to actively participate in widening the BLS training programmes. She works on the simple idea that every person must know how to save a human life. And so the New Year begins on a high note of learning to do good deeds for the benefit of other human beings.

Her commitment to the cause comes from an inner conviction that she needs to spread the message that every person can save a human life. Basic life support or BLS comprises of primary level medical care that can be used for victims of life-threatening injuries until they can be given full medical care at a hospital. BLS can be provided by trained medical personnel, including emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and by ‘qualified’ bystanders. BLS training therefore aims at educating the first responders.

HERD Foundation, through the efforts of Dr Suchika Deshmukh, has brought BLS and ACLS Training to Nagpur city in a big way since 2015. Under her guidance NKPSIMS and Lata Mangeshkar Hospital have set up the International Training Centre that is accredited by American Heart Association. Tuesday, January 2, 2018 saw a record of sorts through the combined efforts of Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) when as many as 3,000 persons including 300 hearing and speech impaired schoolchildren were trained in basic life support (BLS) or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at Suresh Bhat auditorium.

The day-long workshop was inaugurated by the city mayor Nanda Jichkar, who termed the BLS training endeavour as Social Learning module with immense importance and opportunity to save lives. A team of specialists led by Dr Meenakshi Girish, Dr Pravin Dahake and Dr Rajkumar Kiratkar trained the participants in CPR. Dr Girish explained the basics of the technique with the help of a video presentation and mannequins. Director of HERD Foundation and LSTS Dr Suchika Deshmukh underlined the importance of the technique.

The team provided the training in which participants were encouraged to continue to practice the technique and use it when needed. Present on this occasion were Dr Vinky Rughvani, member Maharashtra Medical Council, Dr R.G. Patil, Dr Sanjay Marathe, Dr Girish Charde. Dr Kritish Balpande, Dr Vasant Khalatkar, Dr Jayant Upadhye, Dr Uday Bodhankar and Dr Avinash Gawande from Government Medical College and Hospital were also present.

Studies reveal that only 50-55% affected victims get proper medical attention. Also, lack of first-responder support turn out fatalities in nearly 90% cases. Lack of CPR care has victims dying when studies clearly underline that during first few minutes if proper CPR is given chances of survival improve dramatically. CPR provided to victims early on increases the time available for experts to provide ALS care and save patients. BLS skills are therefore much needed and can be provided to non-medics too, to save human lives. It is Dr Suchika Deshmukh’s vision that everyone must be taught to be proficient in BLS skills.

2018 – Ring in the New Year

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Images Courtesy Google 

Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow. The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true”. Let 2018 be the year to inspire people to good health, good cheer and serenity. It is optimum physical fitness and vigour that can best be described as a precursor to all good things that one can work on to achieve. So let this be the year to bring on well-being, fitness, and inner tranquility that may help us enjoy the best of everything else this year.

HERD Foundation wishes good health to be the focal message for the year ahead. Let us begin the New Year with single mindedness towards making physical fitness a year round target. We can devote ourselves to this end by making good choices through diet, activity, and healthy routines to augment these overarching undertakings that will change our lives for the better.

All you would need to do is to build up reserves of your immense will power to prioritize yourself and your good health above everything else. It is very much possible to do this since the human body is so designed as to respond to health care at any age and at any point in time. Good physical care changes and revs up the body to gain the benefits of healthy eating, exercise, and proper care to make necessary alterations right down to our cells.

Alongside, let mindful serenity become the signature tune for 2018. Read books, enjoy music and at every opportunity relax in Mother Nature’s arms. Enjoy the kind of physical activity that suits you. Enjoy simple strolling down the street. Put away the digital devices for some time and enjoy the company of fellow beings around you. Sing your heart out – whether in the shower or a karaoke.

What you need to in-build inside your psyche is to feel good!  Research suggests that any form of movement or activity of any kind is essential for human well-being. Studies also say that people feel happiest when they are up and about and moving around compared to when they remain seated or remain still. So take up opportunities to get off that chair and move around.

As the year begins resolve to make yourself a better person – physically. Do the simple things that will lay the foundation in place for a rock solid support to your resolve. Here are tips that will help you to promote self-care and good health.

  • Mark out January each year to get a complete profile of your health status. It is important to know where you stand and to get a first-hand account of your medical condition – inside out. New Year is the time to focus on your health. Find the time to do this and maintain your health all year long.
  • Drink more water and less of other kind of drinks. You will feel energized and positive. It is essential to stay hydrated and many of us forget that water is the best drink around. Water levels are critical and staying hydrated will have drastic effects on your overall health.
  • Make it a point to sleep better. Lack of sleep is an underlying reason for health problems. From stress and anxiety to weight gain and low immunity – more problems erupt for lack of proper sleep. Resolve to plan out a strict sleep schedule and stick to it. Eat early dinners. Put away devices. Shut off the TV. Certain bodily functions occur only when the body is asleep that keep our health in good order.
  • Practice good mindful eating habits. Improve your diet patterns and eat healthy foods. Stick to your scheduled hours and eat authentic food. Mindful eating is to learn what to eat when you are hungry, and to know when to stop when you are full.

So let this New Year be the year when you transform yourself to become a new you.