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Friday, October 3, 2014

CHANGEMAKERS HEALTH - Frontline fighters in good health crusade

Across India, battles are being fought and won to deliver efficient healthcare. Here's a look at some steps taken by people and NGOs who've won a Social Impact Award
Building trust and boosting tribal development

Bangalore: Thirty-four years ago, some doctors and activists trekked deep into the forests of Karnataka's BR Hills in Yelandur Taluk, 180km from Bangalore, to reach medical help to tribal set tlements.

They found only old people and leprosy-affected children. The rest had fled in fear of the disease. The team led by Dr Sudarshan stayed back and ensured the tribals overcame their fear and approached them for help. This formed the genesis of Karuna Trust, winner of the TOI Social Impact Awards for 2012. Today , the trust has transformed foul-smelling primary health centres (PHCs) into pleasant facilities."It implemented a PPP model leveraging government investment in public health infrastructure complementing it with a not-for-profit, competent management team," said Sudarshan, honorary secretary of the trust. As many as 13 Karuna Trust managed PHCs in Karnataka were granted ISO 9001:2008 certification.

Innovations like repositioning of family planning, distributing birthing kits and baby warmers helped reduce maternal and infant deaths. Sudarshan says "the challenges and changing dynamics in the sector have made us stronger and helped us stay grounded."

Sudarshan launched Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK), a movement for integrated tribal development. An eight-bed hospital was started in BR Hills. Realizing that healthcare alone was not enough, VGKK formed the Karuna Trust in 1986 to provide education and help marginalized people. TNN

Boon of flood-proof handpumps

Bahraich: Every year, floods put people here to the test. They struggle for food and water. Food packets are para-dropped as the Ghaghra burst its banks. But safe drinking water is a challenge easier met because of flood-proof hand pumps installed at many places in the district.

These are normal pumps installed in 2010-11 by the local administration on concrete by the local administration on concrete platforms using NREGA funds. The 2.5-3.75-metre platforms ensure the hand-pumps don't go under water easily. This serves two purposes -guaran tee safe drinking water and serve as permanent structures that help people find a place to toehold when everything else floats.

Former DM Rigzin Sampleal led the project that proved effective in the 2011 floods and thereafter. It bagged the 2011 TOI Social Impact Award. Ghaghra's fury engulfed the city this year too. Once again, the hand-pumps came in handy .A visit to marooned Gangapurva village in Mahasi tehsil proved the point. Of its 10 flood-proof hand-pumps, seven were working.

"This year flood water swelled to over two meters in places. One hand-pump went under.Two others were partially inundated. The rest seven worked as usual," said Ghan Shyam, subdivisional magistrate, Mahasi. Some of these 1,000 hand-pumps were installed in villages along motorable roads. People in the interior villages waded through the submerged link roads to fetch safe drinking water.

"Team work helped. A villager sug gested the idea, which the administra tion implemented with help from headmen and officers," says Sampheal, now posted as special secretary to UP CM Akhilesh Yadav .

The Elevated Flood-Proof Bahraich Model hand-pumps are installed two to four meters above ground. When the river breaches, people come on boats to fetch water from these pumps.Today , it's recommended by the National Disaster Management Authority and replicated by several districts on pilot basis. TNN

The silent observer that helped save many a girl child

Kolhapur: In June, Kolhapur's sex ratio crossed 900, an adverse number that a unique technological initiative, painstakingly implemented, corrected in five years.

In 2008, then Kolhapur collector Laxmikant Deshmukh got ultrasound machines in the city to fix a device that recorded sonography images and linked them to an online portal, `save the baby girl'. An awareness drive was launched, doctors asked to fill in details of each pregnancy case they received.Within three years, the drive instilled fear among families wanting to check a fetus's sex.In 2011, Deshmukh won the TOI Social Impact award for the initiative. Two years later, the state scrapped the model, and asked doctors to file online details on sonography machine use. By then, the award had given the model national recognition, which encouraged the city's medical fraternity to embrace it.

"The award boosted the morale of the administration and those in the project. Other states approached the Kolhapur administration for details and implemented it," says Deshmukh. The silent observer model was replicated in Rajasthan, Goa, MP and it got implemented in 200 districts across the country . Kolhapur's medical fraternity still uses it, despite annual maintenance cost ranging between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh. "Kolhapur had become notorious after the 2001 Census, when sex ratio dropped to 829. The silent observer device changed everything," said Ajit Patil, senior Kolhapur gynaecologist. TNN

Changing the face of ambulance services

When it bagged the TOI Social Impact award in 2012, Ziqitza was already a superstar in the country's emergency medical aid sector.Its ambulance services operated locally in Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab and Orissa. Mobile medical units brought healthcare to the less accessible regions of J&K, Kerala and Jharkhand, working with states and corporate entities. Ambulances were equipped with life support, paramedics, resuscitation kits, oxygen cylinders and defibrillators. Free clinics, staffed by a medical team, conducted awareness programmes. Two years on, 1,200 Zi qitza ambulances operate across 18 states, providing medical care to about "3.2 million, delivering over 8,000 babies on board", says co-founder and CEO Sweta Mangal.The organization continues to grow.

"When we started in 2004, the (ambulance) industry didn't exist," says Mangal. "We were one of a few organized players." The team, which included her, Shaffi Mather, Naresh Jain, Ravi Krishna and Manish Sancheti, worked closely with the government to ensure standards were established. "Earlier, anybody could buy a vehicle, put a stretcher inside and call themselves an ambulance service." There was no accredited course for paramedics, and dialling 102 (ambulance service number) often connected you to the cremation grounds. TNN Its services proved invaluable when Cyclone Phailin hit Orissa last year. Ambulances transported the injured and also food. "Everything else was shut but we were on high alert. A baby was born in an ambulance, he was named Phailin," recalls Mangal. The organisation made it to the Limca Book of Records last year, for their free, first-aid responder training workshops. Over 5,000 participants were trained in a year, across school and colleges in Punjab. TNN







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