Piramal Swasthya to expand Project ASARA to reach tribals

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VISHAKHAPATNAM: Piramal Swasthya, an initiative under the aegis of Piramal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Piramal Group, announced the expansion of its Project ASARA in the hard-to-reach tribal areas of Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

To help transform the health parameters of Visakhapatnam, a focus on the tribal belt (which constitutes about 60% of the area) is imperative.

The prevalence of malnutrition and nutritional anaemia, among the tribal groups in the remote inaccessible regions of Araku, makes it important to supplement the efforts of the Government. ASARA 2.0 will amplify the success and the impact of ASARA 1.0.

Started in 2011, project ASARA focused on the tribal populations of Araku valley in Andhra Pradesh, covering the 45,000-plus population in 181 habitations. The project aimed to combat the region’s tribal healthcare challenges and deliver primary healthcare to inaccessible tribal belts.

Mobile health workers travel to remote habitations and serve pregnant women. In addition, specialist doctor consultations are facilitated through telemedicine centres. The current programme is an expansion of this successfully implemented model.

The four prime components of this project are:

Outreach Facility: A four-wheeler drops Auxillary Nurse Midwives to the nearest motor-friendly road. The ANMs travel on bikes to a point from where they ‘hike’ to reach the habitation. The farthest such habitation, Nanda, is 36 kilometres away from the base.

Trained Paramedic field staff: Once in the habitation, the ANM identifies every pregnant woman and every neonate. The pregnant women are registered after conducting basic tests as part of the initial examination. Pregnant women are also provided with counselling on healthy practices to be followed during their pregnancy. This is followed up by an appointment for consultation with a specialist at our Telemedicine Centre.

Tele-Health Centre: The next day, a four-wheeler is sent to pick up all pregnant women registered and gets them to the Tele-Health Centre where a staff nurse collects a detailed history. This is followed by a consultation with an expert gynaecologist, who is based out of Hyderabad and connected virtually with the help of conferencing technology. Free medication, along with nutrition supplement, is also provided to the expectant mother at our Tele-Health Centre and she is then dropped back to her habitation.

Referral Services: When a woman is in labour, our ANM picks her up (the woman reaches the motor-friendly road on a paalki) and shifts her to a Government health facility for a safe delivery. Our ANMs support these women and children through their pregnancy, child birth and neonatal period while keeping the Government machinery in the loop.

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