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Suhrid foundation started its operation in 2012 with health care of tribal people as the primary objective. Since none of us were stationed at Vikramgadh, we had to drive the health care by periodic camp. During the camp, we could address some issues and some issues needed a follow up. We did maintain the records and used to go back for the following camp. We could hardly find 5% of the expected patients. Additionally, we did not even have the feedback about the medication given to them.
Having seen these limitations, we decided to focus on schools kids, since their teachers are extremely responsible in terms of tracking the health of each kid, following the instructions and giving the timely feedback. We extended it to enrichment of mid day meal with vegetables, eggs, jaggery etc. We also improved their personal hygiene in various ways in training kids and also their parents. We conduct 2 camps per year for the each schools. We have separate ophthalmic camps as well. Kids needing advanced treatment are brought to Mumbai for the treatment and follow-up is done through teachers and parents in some cases.
As per the adults are concerned, it was very evident that unless we are stationed there, it would be difficult to address the health related issues. Since our doctors practice at Mumbai, it was not possible for them to work at the village during the weekdays. Our founder member, Ms Sushmita Tembe, who was the senior-most matron at Ahmedabad civil hospital, retired this year and decided to utilize her vast experience for the benefit of the tribals around the Vikramgadh. During the last seven to eight years of our association, we did lot of community related work viz reconstructing dams, de-silting river, cleaning the wells, infrastructure development for the school, tree plantations, and guiding tribals to work towards improving their livelihood. Kaspada was in the forefront where these activities were carried out because of a better connect with the people. We decided to conduct a survey to establish the real need of the health center. The typical issues highlighted by them were:
- Health problems are very much there! These problems worsen during the rainy season.
- Pediatric problems are very high due to inadequate knowledge of the parents.
- Travel to Vikramgadh is difficult, which makes them bear the illness for some time. Follow up is even more difficult.
- Medical expenses are very high (from their standard) at Vikramgadh. Even if the doctor charges less for the consultancy, medicine charges are high, when clubbed with travel costs, it becomes deterrent.
- They need to align with timing of the hospital, which is not possible all the time while being busy with their time-critical work in farms.
- For any emergency, they don’t have any means of primary aid.
The villagers assured us of full support, if we decide to have our own center there. They unanimously proposed us to use their big community center (which was not in good shape to start with). We had to spend towards the repair, painting, building a washroom, etc in addition to other planned expenses towards medical equipments and furniture. We got lot of support and encouragement from the villagers in the entire process of setting up this center. We have decided to hire a local girl, who would assist Ms Sushmita, as nursing support. It is decided that the clinic would be open for 6 days a week from 9 to 4pm. We deliberately decided not give them the consulting and medicine free to ensure so that they dont undervalue the importance of it. We charge minimal Rs 25 for consulting and medicines for three days.
This clinic was launched on 26th Jan 2020 and is functioning very well. We would provide more details of its progress in the subsequent reports. We have laid down following objectives at this stage for this initiative.
- Provide very cheap health care to the tribals
- Train local girls in nursing – so that they can provide primary healthcare support in their own hamlets, if required
- Build up a team of paramedics in all the ten villages, where we support the schools
- Conduct medical camps for the villagers wherein specialists would provide their service
- Educate tribal ladies about health care, hygiene, nutrition
- Making this as a base – expand this model in other remote villages by setting up similar centers
This is one of the biggest milestones for Suhrid Foundation – taking our commitment to the region one level up.