Female Health Intervention
Bhikamkor faces many health challenges, which are compounded by the lack of adequate health resources and education. The village only has a small, understaffed clinic without a female doctor, and only very serious health conditions are considered cause to travel to cities for treatment. Menstrual health is still a taboo topic in the community, with insufficient access to hygienic sanitary products and menstrual education. Villages in rural Rajasthan such as Bhikamkor have been found to have a prevalence of anemia of over 70%. Anemia impairs the blood’s capacity to deliver sufficient oxygen to meet the body’s needs, having a number of detrimental effects, and can even permanently affect cognitive development in children. However anemia is also highly preventable and treatable, the key issue remains the lack of awareness and understanding of the disease. IPHD conducted needs assessments in 2015 and 2016, surveying the state of health and healthcare in the village.
Women’s Health Outreach Team
To combat low health literacy, IPHD created the Women’s Health Outreach Team in February of 2017, hiring four women from the village and training them on a variety of health topics over the course of three months. This team meets with women of the village, collects health information, leads focus groups on health topics, and assists ill community members in receiving medical attention. The health topics discussed include hygiene, wound care, malaria, nutrition, anemia, oral health, menstrual hygiene, pregnancy, and family planning.
The Outreach Team
Anju is passionate about improving women’s lives in Bhikamkor, advocating for improved female health, education, and autonomy. She is an elected member of the panchayate (local government) and works closely with the serpanche (mayor). She is thirty-one years old, has a daughter and a son, and enjoys dancing and doing henna in her free time. She is natural-born leader, and avid learner, and consistent problem-solver. When working in the field, Anju steps up as a leader and guarantees that each session runs smoothly. Her love of working with and for women helps the team in making a difference in the community.
Sharmili is the most dedicated member this team could ask for, always arriving to work on time, enthusiastic, and prepared. Her life has not been easy, as her husband is unable to work due to mental illness, her family relying on support from relatives to survive. This position gave her the opportunity to improve her situation, and Sharmili takes pride in providing for her family. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and spending time with her children. She hopes that this project continues indefinitely and says she wants to hold this job for the rest of her life.
Kamla loves being a working woman and contributing to the community. She joined this project because she loves meeting with people and wants everyone to be healthy. On top of her duties on the Health Outreach Team, she cooks for the local primary school. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her two children and husband and watching television. While she was unable to complete school as a child, her hard work will enable both her daughter and son to complete their education. Her ten-year-old daughter, Neetu, is her mom’s biggest supporter, assisting Kamla in learning how to read and write. Whenever the team faces a problem, you can count on Kamla to push the group onward.
Bharti’s incredible oratory skills make even the most complex health topics approachable to woman of all educational backgrounds. She loves spending time with her three children, two sons and one daughter, and all of her friends. Her husband works as a medical assistant in a city three hundred kilometers away, and this supported her interest in health. She enjoys being a part of this project because it involves her two favorite activities: meeting people and socializing.
Female Health Clinic
One male physician serves the community, but cultural barriers prevent women from discussing concerns with a male provider. IPHD is in the process of opening a weekly women’s clinic in the village. Once the clinic is open, the outreach team and the clinic staff will work hand in hand, with the outreach workers referring sick women to the clinic, the doctor and nurse diagnosing and treating the women, and the outreach workers then following up with the patient to make sure she is taking any prescribed medicine and following the doctor’s advice.
In 2016, IPHD conducted a needs assessment of women’s health in Bhikamkor. The results from this study were used to design the Health Outreach Team and begin the Female Health Clinic. The organisation conducted menstrual health workshops in the village and distributed reusable sanitary pads. Menstrual health will continue to be a key focus for IPHD in future health programs.
In 2015, IPHD conducted a thorough needs assessment; interviewing and surveying about health in the village. Some of the main issues we discovered were an extremely high prevalence of anemia and poor dental care. Initial health workshops have been carried out as well as a health fair in which villagers were able to access free check-ups, dental supplies and nutrients.