Health Workers – Wellbeing for All
Amrita SeRVe works in the most backward communities comprising 200 to 1500 people. A single household can include 4 to 14 members from several generations. Primary occupations are agriculture and daily labor. Commonly households own less than two acres of farmland, which may just be enough to feed the family. Most of the women are tied to household duties and seasonal work in the field. In India, the women are considered to be the center of family life and therefore they hold the key to bring about positive change.
Following are some indications of what the people of a disadvantaged community face in their daily lives:
– Isolation from the health care system
– Many obstacles to complete secondary education
– Malnutrition due to monotonous diet
– Difficulty in getting sufficient income to feed the family and sending children to school
The main problems experienced in the area of health include maternal and child mortality, water borne diseases, diarrhea, skin diseases, diabetes, hypertension, anemia, acute respiratory infections, and many other conditions.
More than 70 health workers have been trained by Amrita SeRVe to meet the health needs of the villagers. The requirements to become an Amrita SeRVe health worker are basic schooling accomplished up to 8th standard, and they must be living in the same or neighboring village. Only local women are chosen for the job. That way, the health worker is always available for and present within the community. Female health workers are able to reach out better to pregnant women and adolescent girls.
Essentially, the health workers along with village coordinators are the link between the villagers and professional health care. They refer people to their local Primary Health Center (PHC) if needed. PHCs are a public government health service. In some cases, the health workers will accompany people in need to the PHC. By building a relationship with the local medical staff, such as the PHC doctors, nurses, and midwives, they help in organizing pregnant woman monitoring, immunization and medical camps.
Health workers are mainly trained in giving awareness classes and learn how to spread knowledge effectively. When performing daily home visits to monitor family health, they also give awareness on important health and sanitation topics. At least twice a month, health workers meet with self-help groups to provide awareness to their members who then spread the good practices and set an example for the whole village.
Also, health workers visit government schools to meet the children and conduct health awareness sessions. There they also teach personal hygiene, and practice cleanliness actively with small and older children which incorporates hand washing, trimming of nails, bathing, and washing own clothes.
In order to address the deficits arising from malnutrition, the health workers initiate, promote and monitor kitchen gardens.
Health workers also assist in availing government schemes like pensions, health insurance, and social security. For example, there are several schemes by the central government specifically for mother and child care. They are also facilitating Aadhar card applications and bank account openings, which have recently become an essential part of government scheme applications. To the most part, the villagers are unaware of the large variety of benefits that many of them are entitled to.
Finally, health workers are empowering women and children through daily yoga and meditation classes. It is part of Amrita SeRVe’s vision to reach beyond health – enriching all aspects of village life through promoting basic positive lifestyle habits to aiming at wellbeing for all.