The Jibhi CHAI team enjoyed hosting the graduation for seventeen women who have become community health workers at our Jibhi Clinic on Saturday 17 March 2007.The event was held in the Lady Willingdon Hospital Clinic, Jibhi and was attended by all the women except Manorma who couldnâ€™t come because of a closed road.
Each woman invited two people from their village and it was good to share the graduation with people who will be beneficiaries of the programme. From Lady Willingdon Hospital Manali Dr. Philip Alexander (medical superintendent), Dr. George Verghese, (director rural programmes) and Dr. Anna Alexander came to the event as well as Rajinder Chauhan from the local NGO SAHARA which coordinates the activities of many of the health workers.
Dr. Jeph Mathias, Jibhi team leader, welcomed guests and acknowledged financial support which has made this programme possible, notably from My Himachal, the New Zealand High Commission in Delhi and Mr Payson Stevens from Ghyagi. He went on to thank LWH Manali for continuing human resource and logistic support and the entire Jibhi team for their commitment to the programme. Dr George Verghese gave an overview of the history of the Jibhi clinic from the days of walking around hills with bags of medications and clinics on a sheet of plastic run on the roadside. Rajinder talked about a wider vision of health and Dr. Philip Alexander about the relationship of the Jibhi clinic to the Manali hospital and the possibilities for the future. The speeches were interspersed with songs and health role plays by the Jibhi team. Finally Drs Alexander and Verghese presented certificates.
The function was followed by lunch in the courtyard during which time guests were able to look at training materials which we had used for teaching, a slide show of our teaching or just inspect the Jibhi clinic. After lunch Mr. Shivkant Gupta from LWH Manali outlined the use of forms for stock management and how to re-order medicines. Some health workers stayed the night at our clinic and others went to friends and relatives, returning on Sunday for an entire morning session looking through the medical kits and becoming familiar with the packaging and use of every item in the kit.
Over the next month the health workers will introduce themselves to their local schools, mahila mandils (women groups), panchayats and any health professionals in their areas. They will also do a village census. The health workers were delighted with the announcement that the NZ High Commission donation will support a stipend for them. This allows them to spend time on wider community work. The Jibhi team will visit every village over the next month as part of the support and relationship building that is integral to this type of work.
It was an excellent event and enjoyable weekend which felt like a beginning of a new and wider phase of our work rather than the culmination of health worker training.
Dr. Jeph Mathias