Helping community health in the Himalayas

Posted in Charitable Trust on Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

The Village Ways Charitable Trust has been very active in the Saryu Valley in recent years, especially in a programme of Women’s Health Awareness. Phase II in the Upper Saryu has just concluded with the publication of an impact study, reporting very positive effects.
Phase III recently commenced with a ‘needs assessment’ in 25 remote villages of the adjacent Pindar Valley, centred on Dhur village, where Village Ways has a delightful guesthouse . The project is gaining  momentum through a highly motivated team of ‘Master trainers’, local women who have volunteered as Peer Health Educators (PHEs) and the Village Health Committees that are headed by the elected Pradhans. This phase will positively impact on some 7,000 people.  The work would not have been possible without the generous support of Goodearth and by the collaboration of Business for Social Responsibility's HerProject and the Village Ways Charitable Trust.

The 12 Master Trainers have been given tablet computers (and, of course, training on how to use them). We believe this hugely versatile tool can assist them and increase their efficiency throughout the health project. The app we are considering is mWater. It is easy to design the tool, deploy surveys, collect data and perform analysis. The project is being ably handled by the on ground coordinators of the Trust, Mahesh and Deepa.

Meanwhile, the Trust has organised health camps, with the support of the District Department of Health and volunteer specialist doctors. The most recent camp was held in Supi, based at the Trust’s Supi Community Centre in February, where a primary health care clinic has been operating for three years. People enthusiastically walked from villages from across the breadth of the valley to seek specialist medical advice.

All the laboratory officials and doctors volunteered their time and expertise. Present at the camp were Dr Mishra (GP), Dr Lal (pathologist) and Dr Jai (ophthalmologist). Managing Trustee Ratnamala Kapur’s daughter Shabnam volunteered her time, taking blood-pressures of all patients before they went in to see the doctor. 26 people requiring cataract treatment were detected and referred to the local hospital. Two young boys were found to have fractures and were immediately taken to the nearest hospital. The eye doctor found a number of ladies complaining that they couldn’t view near objects. Their eyes were tested and glasses were immediately provided. The joy was evident as they proclaimed that threading a needle and removing stones from lentils were now going to be easy tasks!

Also present were doctor Fiona, the daughter of a Village Ways Director, from the UK, with her two girls (Murron 11 and Isla 9). The girls provided training to the local school children in nutrition and handwashing, which was great fun and appreciated by the pupils. They also arranged a fun Skype conversation for the children to their own primary school in the UK.
Keith and Mehak

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