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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Nutrition Awareness Camp for Tribal Populations

 

The Tribal Clinic set up by HERD Foundation at Pauni undertakes regular health awareness programmes as part of its mandated activities to create healthier communities settled here. We systematically take on health camps to popularize preventive measures by organizing health awareness programs on issues related to health and hygiene. While last fortnight we undertook educating about diarrhea, this fortnight focused on nutritional awareness. Our team has been working for past three years in the region and the surrounding villages are familiar with the scheduled programmes of which they are informed in advance.

It is largely women patients who get involved as they are well acquainted with the medical team and they become willing participants in these awareness programmes. Such events teach them to take better care of their children and families. The tribal women are appropriate messengers to carry back the lessons to implement them in their daily lives. It leads them to take informed care of children, aging parents, and community members. These health camps are organized at the Tribal Clinic and last week the nutrition awareness camp drew nearly 60 women to the event.

Information about events gets circulated well in advance and the nutritive recipe competition was publicized to bring in more participants to the health awareness camp. The camp was organized for the benefit of the community women to coincide with the medical team’s health examination scheduled visit to the Tribal Clinic. It is when the team goes out for providing medical assistance thrice a week to this location, that they also plan and conduct activities to ensure inclusive reach for need of health awareness programs for the benefit of the people living here.

On September 8, 2017 the camp was organized with the aim to improve the nutritional status of the populations and especially targeted the tribal families. The food-preparation based nutrition approach was undertaken to create nutrition awareness to enhance consumption of nutritionally rich fruits, vegetables and ingredients. The team members made a comprehensive presentation to promote and emphasize on the importance of dietary variety in order to improve the nutritional quality of their diet and to increase knowledge and education on food preparation.

The team successfully created an environment in which the women became engrossed in learning how to add sufficient variety in their eating habits through locally available, affordable fruits, vegetables and ingredients that would add to their nutritional intake. This kind of participatory nutrition education for the women actually helped in inspiring them to learn new ways for consumption of nutritionally rich food.

Knowledge about alternate food preparation was shared prolifically. The nutrition-rich food competition announced earlier had the women bring in dishes they had prepared. Prizes were given after tasting and judging of dishes. This was done to encourage them to prepare innovative nutritious food in their households that will increase consumption of new recipes. The tribal women felt benefitted in being imparted necessary knowledge and skills to prepare and consume nutrition rich foods that they would add to their diet.

It turned out to be a wonderful effort by the medical team to raise awareness as well as to promote strategies for achieving nutrition security and enhance diversified food habits among these tribal families. These communities after all suffer from micronutrient malnutrition and the team assisted in offering solutions to address the problems. It was a wonderful participatory gathering that taught them to understand the need to learn about importance of nutrition and know of recipes using seasonal vegetables, fruits and condiments.

HERD Foundation hopes the nutrition awareness programme at the community level will promote increased consumption of nutrient rich foods. The health camp attracted the rural poor and disadvantaged women living here. The activities and advice provided by the team were to improve their awareness and skills in cooking to benefit their healthy eating habits. We know the team will be successful in bridging this critical knowledge link to educate home makers – mostly women to take better care of themselves, their children and families.