Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India

by Rural Health Care Foundation
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Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India
Set Up A New Rural Healthcare Centre, India

Primary care, the cornerstone of any healthcare system, plays a crucial role during any crisis. During this COVID-19 pandemic, their role has been significant, especially when the services have been aimed at under-served communities.

The rural poor, being deprived of some of the most basic amenities and facilities, have been vulnerable to the infection. While vaccinations are being carried out across the country, its reach has been slow within the highly populated remote rural areas. All our rural centres are in such areas of West Bengal. Most of these regions don’t have hospitals nearby for any patient with a severe case of COVID. Since our efforts have always been focused on maximizing the impact, we have been serving over 40 villages through each of our units. Thus, considering our reach of care, as well as the continuing risk of a 3rd wave, we have initiated vaccination drives for our rural communities. Villagers who are unvaccinated are being administered with the life-saving inoculation to keep them safe from the severe effects of the virus.

Despite the continuous challenges, the determination of socially conscious organisations has been firm—a trait that has helped the underprivileged during the peak of the pandemic and are now helping us secure vaccine vials for the communities. The support we have received with the vials have helped us administer over 1000 first doses and we are in the process of inoculating more people.

The attitude of these rural communities’ towards vaccinations has been delightfully surprising. During the beginning of the pandemic, they either had a strong (and often irrational) fear of the infection or complete disregard for the safety measures and preventions. By now, however, most have a far better understanding of COVID and there is little to no vaccine hesitancy among them. Most are eager to receive the vaccine.

At present, we are looking to secure more vials and are seeking funding for the expenses we incur to carry out the drive.

 

For over a decade we have been serving the rural poor with a focus on bringing improvement to their health and even now, during this unprecedented and unpredictable outbreak, our efforts have been aimed at their welfare. To know that our work has been countering the pandemic is gratifying but we have to continue our work to protect the communities.

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The COVID-19 crisis has been immensely difficult for the underprivileged communities. While the risk of infection has been concerning, the lockdown’s effect on their income has troubled them the most. It is hard to care about one’s health when they are worried about their next meal.

Sanaka’s family went through this ordeal during the 2020 lockdown. As a 50 year old woman living in rural West Bengal, hardships are not new to her. The pandemic, however, put her and her family through extreme and unprecedented financial difficulties.

Sanaka’s husband, the sole earning member of the family, is a van puller. They didn't have much savings but his earnings had always been just about enough for the family to afford the necessities, including basic medical care. Then the pandemic hit India. Once the lockdown was declared, he could no longer transport passengers. They completely lost their income.

Such was the state of the family that Sanaka couldn’t even seek medical care. She had started developing issues in her eyes but didn’t have the means to seek treatment. Their financial distress didn’t end after the lockdown. Many were still in fear of the virus. Her husband didn’t have many passengers and they were barely making enough to make ends meet. Her health was suffering severely. Then she found out about our healthcare centre in Patuli village of Purba Bardhaman district.

Her very first visit to our clinic proved useful. Affordable care allowed her to continue the treatment. Her health started improving and she started feeling better.

At present, Sanaka’s family is yet again struggling with their earnings. The lockdown, called to fight the devastating second wave of COVID, has yet again affected their livelihood.  Our centres, however, are continuing to help the patients from poor and low-income backgrounds access high-quality care. 

Primary care has always been crucial for the wellbeing of any community but the COVID-19 pandemic has made the role of affordability evident in helping the disadvantaged groups seek treatment.

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At the end of December our healthcare centre in Jamtala was visited by this wonderful and persevering centenarian. Monoara travelled about 4kms on a chilly winter morning to see our General Physician. She needed a check-up and medications.

With a century of difficulties, Monoara has certainly been through a lot. Like many women in the rural regions, she had to struggle against patriarchy, poverty and other social evils. It is probably this strength within her that we saw when she walked into our clinic, accompanied by a family member and supported only by her cane.

Our centre in Jamtala was set up four and a half years ago. Before that, the area didn’t have a proper medical facility. To think that Monoara, and other elderly patients like her, didn’t have access to medical care and had to travel long distances only to see a doctor is so very concerning. There are still many villages without medical services. The elderly residents there find it hard to get the most basic care that is often needed at a mature age.

Monoara lived most of life without a healthcare facility near her home but we are glad and grateful to have been able to make it easy for her to see a doctor now. Her visit inspired us to continue our work with even greater zeal and be thankful to have the support of our donors and funding partners whose contribution help us continue our mission.

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There are always challenges in making high-quality healthcare accessible and available to the poor rural communities in low-cost. The COVID-19 outbreak, however, has been especially difficult and has demanded extraordinary measures.

The lockdown in India directly affected our operations and even after we strived to bring back normalcy in our services, we realized the underprivileged communities either lacked in the understanding of life saving preventive measures or completely ignored them. Thus, in these past months, we have been combining quality treatment with COVID prevention awareness. We have incorporated several preventive measures within our operations. Screens have been put up to shield the patients as well as our team. Masks and gloves have been made mandatory for all staff members along with daily temperature checks. Patients, too, get their temperature checked and we have sanitizers as well as handwashing areas set up for them.

After observing an aversion to masks among our communities, for their own safety we have made proper face covering mandatory for seeking treatment. We have also distributed masks among them.

The underprivileged and rural communities are especially vulnerable during any crisis and currently we are witnessing an increase in coronavirus cases in the rural areas. The critical need for primary care, however, is still clearly evident.

Despite the restrictions in railway services in India—an important and often main method of transportation for rural residents—we have noticed a considerably high patient count. Since restarting our services post-lockdown, we have treated over 35,700 patients.

Basic primary medical care is crucial to improving and maintaining ones health so, now more than ever, we have to continue our work with even greater vigour. The outbreak has been relentless in its effect on the poor but we, too, are persistent in our efforts.

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The last few months have been as unprecedented for us as they have been uncertain. Even before the COVID-19 crisis hit the most critical point, it was obvious that many were at risk of contracting the virus and even succumbing to it.

Our communities, whose poverty stricken lives often prevent them from having strong health, were at risk too. Even though our focus is on primary care, it was time to spread awareness about the preventive measures that could keep them safe. The lack of proper educational opportunities in remote rural areas meant that we had to teach them the different measures of hygiene while also encouraging the communities to stick to them.

Our solution was educating our patients and giving them the means to practice it.

While our team members spoke about the hand-washing techniques and the importance of social distancing, we also handed out soaps to our patients and their accompanying family members. We spoke to them about the outbreak and explained that the methods could shield them as well as others in their communities.

Our efforts in maintaining the quality of care for our poor patients has always rewarded us with community members having greater faith in modern medicine. This time the faith helped them listen to us and understand the advice.

With the simple but effective tools of protection our communities now have much greater degree of safety from the virus.

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Organization Information

Rural Health Care Foundation

Location: Kolkata, West Bengal - India
Website:
Rural Health Care Foundation
Anant Nevatia
Project Leader:
Anant Nevatia
Rural Health Care Foundation
Kolkata, West Bengal India

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