Trained MPWs have reached out to 120 villages in 4 districts till date with basic healthcare
India CSR News Network
PUNE: Hospitals and doctors are not to be found in the neighbourhood in rural areas as easily as one finds them in urban and semi-urban areas. Often the nearest healthcare facility is several kilometres away in case of remote villages. This is where the mobile clinic run by Jankidevi Bajaj Gram Vikas Sanstha (JBGVS) comes into picture. This dispensary on wheels has roamed the remote hills and plains of Pune district for over 10 years, preventing and curing myriad illnesses. The trained local multi-purpose workers (MPWs) also play a vital role in this flagship healthcare program.
The mobile clinic of JBGVS has covered 74 villages across Khed and Maval talukas of Pune since June 2006. Currently, the van visits 13 villages in Khed taluka every week, which are in need of the services provided. The van includes a doctor and nurse (who are paid a small honorarium) and the staff driver-cum-helper. At present Dr Rajashree Birajdar and Ms Manisha Kamble have been appointed on the mobile clinic. Over the past 10 years nearly 1,25,000 patients have been treated this way. The role of trained MPWs is a seamless continuation of the work of mobile clinic.
Taking inspiration from the late Dr Ms Banoo Coyaji’s Vadu project from the 1970s, JBGVS trained health workers under a World Bank assisted project in 1990. They were periodically trained by medical experts from KEM Hospital, Pune; Search – the NGO from Gadchiroli and Dr S M Akolkar, GM – Industrial Health, Bajaj Auto. In some cases, they worked in association with other NGOs like Sewadham Trust, Pune. In 2013, the health workers were provided further training and better honorarium and are since called as MPWs. Over the years, MPWs have covered the entire populations of 120 villages across Pune, Aurangabad, Wardha and Udham Singh Nagar.
Commenting on the objectives of these twin initiatives, V B Sohoni, Secretary, JBGVS said, “The primary aim of such projects is to help solve the basic health issues of the poor villagers in interior areas at low cost at their door-step and to develop local volunteers for on-going work.”
The day starts when the mobile clinic moves out of JBGVS headquarters in Akurdi near Pune at 8.45 am. The doctor and the nurse at picked up on the way before going to the villages. A time table has been set for the entire week so that all the concerned villages are regularly covered. First aid, basic medicines and health check-up instruments pertaining to blood pressure, blood sugar, pulse and eyes are available in the van, catering to all villagers including women and children. A nominal fee of Rs 5-10 is charged to the patients. Critical cases and expecting mothers are recommended to be shifted to the nearest primary health centre (PHC) or hospital. Awareness is also created about preventive healthcare, hygiene and sanitation.
Dilip Nanijkar, the driver-cum-helper, while narrating his experiences, said, “Over the years I have learnt to assist the doctor in tasks like dressing of wounds and facilitating steam inhalation, apart from my responsibilities of driving and vehicle maintenance. The van also serves as an ambulance whenever we come across an accident on the road.”
The MPWs have been trained by expert doctors and given kits that include first aid including common medicines pertaining to cough, cold and headache and some basic instruments to measure health parametres. In several cases, they have been trained to assist doctors during child birth. They focus on creating awareness on issues like nutrition, use of locally available produce, vaccination and hygiene, including through participation in various social events. They also help in escorting patients to the mobile clinic and the regular health camps organized by JBGVS. Various health initiatives of the government are also implemented. A link worker presides over 5-6 MPWs and monthly reporting is done to Ms Sangeeta Walke, Project Organizer, JBGVS and other women field officers. At present 79 MPWs work across various JBGVS project areas.
All these activities have helped the villagers and particularly women to eradicate malnourishment and illness. In many project villages almost 100% deliveries now happen in hospitals due to the awareness created. Many untimely deaths have been prevented with proper healthcare and guidance. Once again there is an increased awareness among villagers about health issues after having got disconnected with their erstwhile healthy lifestyles over time.
MPWs have not only maintained up-to-date records of the village health situation (particularly women and children) and contributed to development, but also have developed their own personality, identify and self-esteem through this noble work. In several cases, MPWs after gaining meaningful experience with JBGVS have procured jobs as aanganwadi workers/Asha or have been elected as gram panchayat members and even as sarpanch. Aspiring village youth, especially girls often eagerly apply for vacant MPW positions. Just like MPWs, all concerned field staff of JBGVS enjoys excellent rapport with the villagers.