1st August edition of Times Of India, Chandigarh published a detailed report about our Health Immunization efforts:
A complete detailed report was published with photgraph!
Click here to see it as file!
Health Mela in the Rural Kullu Valley
At 9,000 feet elevation, and a three-hour hike from the paved road, the village of Sajwaar did not expect to find itself the host of a health mela. But a unique collaboration recently brought child healthcare not only to Sajwaar but also to a number of other remote villages in the Seraj/Upper Banjar Valley of Kullu, HP during July 2006.
Volunteer doctors and staff from Lady Willingdon Hospital/ LWH, Manali (www.manalihospital.com) working with the local NGO SAHARA, and villagers from the Khadagarh Panchayat (Seraj Valley/Upper Banjar), all joined forces to bring villages a
“Health Mela.” The event was funded by “My Himachal“, a non-profit group of Himachalis from around the world (www.myhimachal.com). “Projects like the Health Mela are the beginning of our efforts to help improve conditions in Himachal’s rural areas. Our goals also include working for the environment and steps towards sustainable livelihoods. As Himachali NRIs, we want to connect to our rural folks and to encourage others to come forward and be part of the effort.” says Avnish Katoch, My Himachal General Secretary, who is based in the USA.
The mela not only provided free vaccines (for MMR/measles, mumps, Rubella and Hepatitis B) but also a festive atmosphere for wider health promotion in the remote villages. Nutritional surveys of the children were carried out along with weight and height measurements. Cooking demonstrations using soy flour mixed in with atta for chapatis and a Super Porridge were shown to parents for their pre-schoolers for enhanced nutrition. De-worming and micronutrient supplementation with Vitamin A and Zinc were also provided to the children. BCG/TB scars were examined so that a list could be compiled
for Government health workers to follow up under national immunization programme.
Payson R. Stevens, an American scientist and artist, who has been an advisor to the Great Himalayan National Park and SAHARA, initially conceived the immunization project. He and his Indian wife, the writer Kamla Kapur, who live part of the year in the Seraj Valley, began working last year with Lady Willingdon to help bring immunizations to the children in a few villages in their panchayat. “Other villages asked to be included and coincidentally I was invited to help found “My Himachal” at the beginning of this year. With a growing network of people wanting to help, additional funds were raised.
We all worked together to expand the project into the Health Mela concept, which made it a lot more interesting,” says Payson.
Drs. Kaaren and Jeph Mathias, a doctor couple from New Zealand, volunteered to run Lady Willingdon’s Jibhi Clinic and help expand medical outreach in the area with staff. Padam Singh, from the local village of Jalora, is working with the doctors and SAHARA to coordinate the childcare outreach and logistics during the summer months.
With the help of SAHARA’s Kala Jatha street theater group, skits were developed using humor and music to promote health messages. Games were organized by the SAHARA group with prizes of toothpaste or toothbrushes for
the youngsters to encourage dental hygiene
“We realized that the best way to reach the remote villages was to hike up to them. It’s usually pretty difficult for a mother to bring a few children down to our Jibhi clinic,” said Dr. Kaaren Mathias. “Our village surveys are finding that over 70% of the children under 12 years are suffering from significant malnutrition. Hopefully, the Health Mela will raise awareness
about the need for better diet and child health issues.”
The Health Mela also visited the villages of Jibhi, Solhanu, Shoja, and Hirub. A total of 280 children were vaccinated during July. Follow-up exams and vaccinations will be given during August and September.
For more info on My Himachal: